I don't think there are such adverbs in English that officially indicate the speaker's emotional/mental state, personality, etc.

"Could you please let me join your group?" doesn't convey the intensity of desperation in writing. We would have to hear people request, beg, etc. to know exactly what they mean by please in such a request. I heard that some foreign languages have adverbs that specifically nitpick a desperately pleading speaker.

(Judgmental warning) With many women, I notice the frequent use of the word completely, especially for adjectives not subject to completion, or for verbs that already denote completion.

  • I was completely pissed that he was 2 minutes late.
  • That movie was completely stupid.
  • I'm avoiding that class because I hear it's completely difficult.
  • That pig completely finished all the leftover food.

From experience and as I've been told, this over-usage of "completely" denotes someone who has very high, unrealistic, and unfair expectations. I believe the usage is acceptable, though not the best choice of adverb in many cases; but the choice and frequency just ought to say something about the speaker.

I think English adverbs modify only verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs, but not the speaker. I just have that yearning for adverbs to also be able to depict the speaker's psyche.

  • 1
    I think you're missing out on the use of adverbs: He thought contemplatively. He yearned wistfully, he wandered hopelessly, he cried viciously, he snarled contemptuously, he begged plaintively, he pleaded desperately.
    – Jim
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 4:55
  • He schemed malevolently, he greedily plotted, he cried hysterically, he sang joyfully, he lovingly held her, he gaxed contentedly... Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 5:53
  • How did I miss out on the use of adverbs when I specifically mentioned that it answers the question of how to verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs? Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 15:00

1 Answer 1


Interesting question.

Many adverbial constructions convey attitude. Examples from Leech and Svartvik (3/2002) include:

It's *quite* warm today.
She's *entirely* satisfied.
+ *fairly*

It's *rather* cold today.
She's *completely/utterly* dissatisfied.
+ *rather* + *a bit* + *a little*

'absolutely' intensifies meaning.

'in a sense', and 'in a way' convey scepticism or reserve.

If a boss asks a secretary whether he or she minds typing a letter, the intended meaning is an order which is being modified to convey courtesy and respect (although some might say a status game is being played). A lot depends on the intonation.

Don't forget the use of embolalia (er...um...and unnecessary filler words, like 'like' in phrases such as 'he was like duh!') which convey the speaker's state.

Think also of the moods of verbs - for example, take the Soviet joke, 'I wish I were in Paris again!' 'But you've never been to Paris' 'I know - it's just that I wished I was in Paris last week.'

'May I suggest...' and 'Allow me to suggest...' are both examples of tactful interjections.

  • It seems like "regretably" or "fortunately" reflects the speaker's view of an incident, which would influence their state of mind. Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 18:33

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