The adverb is the least numerous and the least independent of all the notional parts of speech; it has a great number of semantically weakened words intermediary between notional and functional words; this is why its notional part of speech status was doubted for a long time: the first grammarians listed adverbs among the particles (H. Sweet, O. Jespersen).
The adverb is separated into a special part of speech because of the following facts:
1. Meaning: they express the properties of actions (to walk quickly), or the properties of other properties (very quick), or the properties of the situations in which the processes occur (to walk again).
4. Combinability: bilateral combinability with verbs, adjectives, adverbs, less regularly with adlinks: e.g. He was hard asleep.
5. Function: Adverbial modifiers.
Traditionally, adverbs are divided on the basis of their general semantics into qualitative, quantitative, and circumstantial. The qualitative adverbs denote the inherent qualities of actions and other qualities; most of them are derived from qualitative adjectives, e.g.: bitterly, hard, beautifully, well, etc. The quantitative adverbs show quantity measure; genuine quantitative adverbs are usually derived from numerals, e.g.: twice, three times, tenfold, manifold, etc. The circumstantial adverbs denote mainly the circumstances of time and place (they can also be defined as “orientative”), e.g.: today, here, when, far, ashore, abroad, often, etc.
According to the meaning adverbs fall under three subclasses:
1. Qualitative adverbs usually modify verbs.Adverbs like: badly, quickly, slowly, steadily, comparatively may be referred to this type of adverbs. They denote the quality of actions: Ex: Clay collapsed on the sand beside Cathie, a wet arm playfully snatching her towel away. I want to go home, she said determinedly.
The Qualitative adverbs are derived from the adjectives by the help of productive adverb forming suffix -ly. Like adjectives the qualitative adverbs have distinctions of degree. These adverbs can both precede and follow the verbs.
2. Quantitative adverbs show the degree, measure, quantity of an action and state. To this subclass adverbs like very, rather, too, nearly, greatly, fully, hardly, quite, utterly may be referred. Ex. She had told herself before that it would be foolish to fall in love with Rob. And she had finally done it. Her gaze trailed around the room again, stopping at the partially opened double doors that led into the parlour. Some part of her was walking with him because of that strange, intimate look they had exchanged - a look that Cathie would rather forget, but warmth was too fresh. J. Daiby.
If the combinability of the qualitative adverbs is bound with verbs only the combinability of the quantitative adverbs are more extensive: they can modify verbs, the words of category of state, adjectives, adverbs, numerals and nouns.
3. Circumstantial adverbs serve to denote in most cases local and temporal circumstances attending an action. Accordingly they are divided into two groups:
a) adverbs of time and frequency /today, tomorrow, often, again, twice .../.
b) adverbs of place and direction: upstairs, behind, in front of, ... Ex. They stood outside the door, giving me directions. Now and then they deliberately refused to jump up and find himself something to do when the unpleasant sensations clutched at him. She waited in front of the window and when he came down he thrust a small dark blue box into her hands. L.Wright
Thus, circumstancial adverbs denote the time and place the action took place. Therefore unlike the previous subclasses the circumstantial adverbs can occupy any position in the sentence. Some circumstantial adverbs can have the degrees of comparison: often, late, near and so on. Special attention should be given to the fact that some circumstancial adverbs may be preceded by prepositions: from now on, up to now, from there and so on.
Adverbs (qualitative adverbs, predominantly) distinguish the category of comparison and have five morphological forms: one positive, two comparative (direct and reverse) and two superlative (direct and reverse), e.g.: bitterly – more bitterly, less bitterly – most bitterly, least bitterly.
In accordance with their morphological composition, adverbs are divided into simple, derived and composite phrasal (a little bit, far enough). There are few simple adverbs, most of them are of a functional or semi-functional character, e.g.: more, very, there, then, here, etc. The characteristic adverbial word-building affixes are the following: simply, clockwise, backward, ahead, etc. The most productive derivational model of adverbs is the one with the suffix ‘-ly’. It is so highly productive that practically every adjective has its adverbial counterpart, e.g.: simple - simply, soft – softly, etc.; some linguists, for example, A. I. Smirnitsky, consider them to be not adverbs but specific forms of adjectives.
The other structural types are compound adverbs, e.g.: sometimes, downstairs, etc., and stable adverbial phrases or composite phrasal adverbs, e.g.: upside down, at least, a great deal of, from time to time, etc.
Some adverbs of weakened pronominal semantics are connected by fluctuant (positional) conversion with functional words; for example, some adverbs are positionally interchangeable with prepositions and conjunctions, e.g.: before, since, after, besides, instead, etc. Cf.: We haven’t met since 1996. – We haven’t met since we passed our final exams. - We met in 1996, and haven’t seen each other ever since.
Adverbs should not be confused with adverb-like elements, which are interchangeable with prepositions (and sometimes prefixes) and when placed after the verb form a semantic blend with it, e.g.: to give – to give up, to give in, to give away, etc.; to go down the hill - to download, to downplay - to sit down, to bring down, to bend down, etc. These functional words make a special set of particles; they are intermediary between the word and the morpheme and can be called “postpositives”.