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He could earn twice his present salary at the new job.

Twice two is four.

Merriam-Webster says ‘twice’ followed by a noun is an adverb. In this case, is the noun still called a noun or something else?

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2  
If you mean salary, yes, it's still a noun. –  Barrie England Jan 22 '13 at 13:16
    
I think twice should be called an adjective in these use (as opposed to uses such as the postman always rings twice), but dictionaries seem to disagree. –  Peter Shor Jan 22 '13 at 14:09
    
What about "the postman always rings twice the amount other people ring"? –  David Schwartz Jan 22 '13 at 15:12
    
What about "we had requests for twice as much money as we received"? What verb does "twice" modify there? –  Peter Shor Jan 22 '13 at 15:50

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The word twice is a numeral Quantifier; it's called an adverb in dictionaries because "adverb" is the traditional wastebasket category -- if you don't know what the hell it's doing there, call it an adverb.

Quantifiers can be moved around like adverbs, though there are special rules for that (Quantifier-Float}, and they are Determiners like articles, so they can modify nouns, too.

This particular kind of numeral quantifier (once, twice, thrice, four times, ... n times) indicates the number of occurrences of some event, and by metaphoric extension, the multiplicative size (note multiplicative times in the construction) of any standard measure NP.

In the sentence

  • He will earn twice his present salary.

twice quantifies the Noun Phrase

  • twice his present salary
    which means 'an amount which equals two times the amount of his present salary'

which is the direct object of He will earn.

Executive Summary: Don't pay any attention to "Parts of Speech"; there's a lot more going on.

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1) The word twice is always an adverb.

twice |twʌɪs| adverb

two times; on two occasions: the earl married twice | the tablets should be taken twice a day. • double in degree or quantity: I'm twice your age | an engine twice as big as the original.

2)salary and two in the sentences above always are nouns. You can't twist it and call it something else.

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1  
So adverbs can modify nouns? –  Peter Shor Jan 22 '13 at 14:11
    
@PeterShor: No. twice doesn't modify salary here. "[He] [earned twice] [his present salary] ..." –  David Schwartz Jan 22 '13 at 15:10
3  
@David: Yes it does. You wouldn't say "He could earn his present salary twice". If "twice" modified "earn", that would mean the same thing as "earn twice his present salary". And the position of "twice" in the sentence "We will pay you twice your present salary" is one which an adverb modifying "pay" is very uncomfortable taking. Consider *"We will fine you twice $100; on the third offence, the fine is raised to $500. –  Peter Shor Jan 22 '13 at 15:45
1  
According to John Lawler, calling twice an adverb seems to indicate one's analytical skills are in some way connected with a wastebasket. Mind you, I'm surprised he uses the terms 'adverbs' and 'nouns' in what one assumes is a generally recognised way in his second paragraph. –  Edwin Ashworth Jan 22 '13 at 16:42
1  
It's not at all clear whether twice is what the OP is actually asking about. He asks 'is the noun still called a noun or something else?' I answered that in my comment. –  Barrie England Jan 22 '13 at 17:56

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