Consider the following sentence:

I ate the sandwich quickly.

The word "quickly" modifies "ate the sandwich."

Should the adverb be placed up front, as in

I quickly ate the sandwich.

would it still be modifying the "ate the sandwich" part?

  • 1
    Yes, but the emphasis changes. The first form could set up that I ate quickly and gave myself indigestion. The second could set up that I rushed through lunch specifically to send out an angry email. Mar 28 '17 at 20:24
  • 1
    "Quickly I ate the sandwich" would sound more poetic.
    – Ricky
    Mar 28 '17 at 20:56
  • I might perceive "I ate the sandwich quickly" as expecting the listener to be expecting that I ate the sandwich, but trying to communicate the fact that it was done quickly, whereas "I quickly ate the sandwich" would be greatly concerned with conveying the information that I did eat the sandwich, where the listener might not have expected that, and also that it was done quickly. Mar 28 '17 at 22:11
  • There is no difference in meaning to speak of. They both mean that the sandwich was devoured in a short space of time. The word "quickly" is a manner adjunct modifying the verb phrase "ate the sandwich". "Eat quickly" and "quickly eat" mean the same.
    – BillJ
    Mar 29 '17 at 6:56

When "quickly" comes before the verb, it is a sentence adverb, and it means that only a small interval of time passed between some past reference time and the event of you eating the sandwich. When "quickly" comes at the end, it is a manner adverb, and it means that the process of eating the sandwich took only a small interval of time.

Although it sounds odd because of the repetition, it would make sense to say "I quickly ate the sandwich quickly." Consider a scenario in which you are in an eating contest, and after the starter's pistol, you need to dash to your table quickly and then grab the sandwich and gulp it down quickly. The first "quickly" modifies the whole sentence, and the second "quickly" modifies the VP.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.