Can we use adverbs before pronouns?

As we know adverbs are normally used to modify 'other adverbs' , 'verbs', and 'adjectives'. e.g (I'm feeling a lot better today.)

I consider 'a lot' and 'much' as adverbs and 'more' as pronoun in the following. Is my analysis OK?

I earn a lot more than my sister does.

I have a lot more in common with my friends than my family.

I can't stand much more of this.

I eat a lot less than I used to.

  • “A lot” is a noun phrase and “more” can be either a determinative, as here, or an adverb. In your examples “a lot more” is an NP in which the determinative “more” is functioning as a “fused determiner-head”, i.e. the functions of determiner and head are fused together into the single word “more” (cf. “a lot more money”). The same kind of analysis applies to “a lot less”. – BillJ Oct 28 '16 at 9:43
  • In all of my sentences ' a lo' considered non phrase? But in oxford dictionary there is something different from what you was saying. :(( – Mickey Mouse Oct 28 '16 at 10:53
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    Dictionaries are okay for meanings, but for grammar they are generally useless. It’s important to distinguish word category and function. In “a lot more”, “a lot” is a noun phrase (that’s its category) and its function is that of 'pre-head modifier' to the fused determiner-head “more” (meaning more x, where x is a noun, e.g. "more money"). So the whole thing “A lot more” is just as much a noun phrase as the non-fused “a lot more money” – BillJ Oct 28 '16 at 11:38
  • -1 for asking the same thing, several times, on ELL and then asking it here with no explanation as to why the ELL answers weren't satisfactory. – Alan Carmack Oct 28 '16 at 13:40
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    @Rathony Many grammarians feel the same way as me about dictionaries, viz. they are fine for meanings but not for syntax. It's crucial to grasp the difference between 'category' (noun, verb, adjective etc.) and function (subject, object, determiner, modifier etc.). In "I like him a lot", "a lot" is an NP (note that it has the article "the") functioning as an adjunct of degree. And in "I earn a lot more than ...", it's still an NP but this time its function is that of pre-head modifier to the fused determiner-head “more". There is nothing new in any of the terms I have used. – BillJ Oct 28 '16 at 15:41

Whether an adverb can modify a noun (pronoun) or not has been debated and there is no firm conclusion. For example,

Almost (or Nearly) everybody came.

Some argue that here almost or nearly are adjectives modifying the pronoun everybody. Some also argue that they are adverbs modifying everybody. But, others argue they are adverbs that modify the determiner every rather than the pronoun everybody. Just because everybody is a one word doesn't mean they can't modify every. English parts of speech are not very clear cut and there could be more arguments based on how you analyze the parts of speech. Your examples:

I earn a lot more money than my sister does.

I have a lot more things in common with my friends than my family.

I can't stand much more things of this.

I eat a lot less things / food than I used to.

As you can see, if you insert appropriate words after the determiner more and less, they are not pronouns any more. They are determiners (adjectives). Also, you need to note that more and less could function as adverbs. Therefore, it is very hard to say they modify (pro)nouns.

  • Thanks for your great help. I really appreciate your help. How about the role of ' a lot' and 'much' in all sentences? Could please kindly help me? – Mickey Mouse Oct 28 '16 at 10:31
  • @MickeyMouse You can safely consider "a lot" and "much" as an adverb. – user140086 Oct 28 '16 at 10:32
  • Thanks how about the @BillJ comment? he stated quite different idea. – Mickey Mouse Oct 28 '16 at 10:52
  • @MickeyMouse He is basically saying the same thing with different terms. Don't worry too much about part of speech. It is as confusing as it gets. – user140086 Oct 28 '16 at 10:53

You shouldn't consider a lot and much as Adverbs. They're actually a different part of speech -- Quantifier -- which wasn't discovered until after Donatus specified the Eight Parts of Speech, around the Fourth Century. So you're not playing with a full deck.

Quantifiers are a type of Determiner, like articles; they indicate amounts and have very special syntax. Treating them like adverbs just makes more problems. Like the presuppositions underlying this question.

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