Adverbs of place, among other adverbs of the nature mentioned in the question, confuse me. Saying that "wherever" is an adverb when "wherever" functions both as the representation of the place and also as the quality of the place's ambiguity seems improper. "I'm going wherever." "I'm going that way." "I'm going to London." The only difference I can see is that "to" is used to modify the verb "going" in any such sentences as the latter, while, in using adverbs, one does not make this addition for lack of specificity. "I'm going north." In this case, north is a real, concrete course--a thing, not a quality--and yet is considered adverbial. Why is this? Is the sentence "I'm going to the north" nounal? If so, how is there a semantic distinction which justifies the distinction of the words form?

An example of this which does not use an adverb of place is in the sentence "I'm going bankrupt." "Bankrupt," in the form 'bankruptcy,' is a fathomable thing, it is also a quality of what one is "going," thus, by this rule which I am questioning, is considered adverbial in nature. "Bankrupt" is not in any of its forms defined as an adverb. It is merely for the fact that it is a quality of a state that one is actuating by way of verb that it is considered adverbial when, simultaneously, it is nounal, representative of a thing that one is going--but it is foremost considered adverbial. Why?

  • When an adverb is used like this, I think it's called a determiner.
    – Barmar
    Jan 1, 2016 at 22:42
  • When you say going bankrupt, it's a shortened form of going to bankruptcy or going to become bankrupt. bankrupt is an adjective. The same thing with going mad.
    – Barmar
    Jan 1, 2016 at 22:43
  • @Barmar Bankrupt is an adjective, undoubtedly - as in a bankrupt musician. You can also say The musician is bankrupt (still an adjective). But suppose you say the musician is a bankrupt? It is certainly used in that format.
    – WS2
    Jan 1, 2016 at 23:31
  • The pro-form "do so" cannot replace a verb without also replacing the verb's complements. "Bankrupt" is apparently a complement of "go", not an adverb, since we cannot say *"Judy went bankrupt, and I did so solvent."
    – Greg Lee
    Jan 1, 2016 at 23:36

1 Answer 1


A basic distinction in grammar is that between complement and modifier. A complement completes the meaning; a modifier modifies it. Adverbs are modifiers. What follows "go" in your examples is not a modifier and so cannot be an adverb. Instead, these phrases following "go" are complements of "go" that tell where a thing goes.

Just because a phrase may refer to a place, and adverbs can refer to places, that does not make every phrase that refers to a place an adverb. You're confusing grammar with meaning.

  • Are you saying that 'here' is a complement and a modifier respectively in 'John is here' and 'John slept here'? Jan 1, 2016 at 23:01
  • Meaning necessitates grammar; grammar may be complicated to whatever degree by syntactic choice. Grammar without meaning has no function; grammar without function no purpose or capacity to be effected. I don't understand your answer. Wherever is an adverb of place. The example that I gave of "bankrupt" shows how I think that adverbs of place are a corruption of grammar. I think a new distinction needs be made. Jan 1, 2016 at 23:03
  • @EdwinAshworth, yes, "here" is an adverb in "John slept here". In "John is here", the function of "here" is not obvious; I think it's a verb phrase, or predicate -- it's neither an adverb nor a complement.
    – Greg Lee
    Jan 1, 2016 at 23:17
  • @Andreievich, Yes, I suppose grammar would not be useful without meaning. I need both pretzels and beer, but that doesn't mean I can't tell them apart.
    – Greg Lee
    Jan 1, 2016 at 23:29
  • I agree. I've long held that 'here' etc in 'John is here' does not fit into any of the classical word classes, and, other than 'locative/directional ('came here') particle', has no home in more modern classifications. Jan 2, 2016 at 11:35

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