According to most pages about it on the internet, adverbs just modify the verb and not additional information. Although, I have heard many different replies on this matter and still don't know which one is right. In an instance like, "I played at the park again." at the park would modify played and again would modify played, right? Also, in a sentence like, "I played quickly again." Quickly would modify played and again would modify played, right?

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    The relatively uncommon sequence I played quickly again would normally be understood to mean that I'd previously played quickly, then did the same thing again later. But the more likely sequence I quickly played again wouldn't normally be understood to have any implications for how quickly I played (previously or subsequently) - just that there wasn't much delay before I played again. Effectively, it's the position of again that dictates exactly what quickly modifies, – FumbleFingers Mar 31 '17 at 19:44
  • It might help if you see that each 'again' showed up away from the verb it modified, and there's a reason for it. Read 'I (played at the park) and I did that again. 'I (played that song very fast) again, as my tutor asked.' Again modifies more than the single verb, it modifies the verb phrase. – Yosef Baskin Mar 31 '17 at 20:00
  • Is this the case with all adverbs such as, "I never eat pickles." with never modifying eat pickles and, "I went into the movies slowly." with slowly modifying went into the movies? – Jim Mar 31 '17 at 20:17
  • The traditional view is that 'extremely' is an adverb in 'He drove extremely slowly ... in his extremely fast car.' and 'actually' is an adverb in 'Actually, Albany is the capital of New York State.' – Edwin Ashworth Mar 31 '17 at 21:23
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    Just because an adverb modifies a verb, does not mean that everything that modifies a verb is therefore an adverb! Also, adverbs can modify adjectives too (among others). E.g. a "really sick patient". "really" is an adverb that modifies "sick". – Flater May 31 '17 at 13:56

1) Yes, "at the park" and "again" are both modifiers of "played." The former is an adverbial prepositional phrase, and the latter is a simple adverb.

2) In this case, you are once more correct in your thinking. Both adverbs modify "played," though this is not a phrasing one would often use; a smoother way of saying the same thing would be "Again, I played quickly."

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    Okay, but would again modify played or played at the park? – Jim Mar 31 '17 at 23:43
  • @Jim: Is a "tall green man" a green man that is tall, or a tall man that is green? That's basically what you're asking. Both "at the park" and "again" modify "played". 1 + 2 = 2 + 1. – Flater May 31 '17 at 13:58
  • I disagree. @Jim has a point about the distinction. Imagine that on Monday you played at school, on Tuesday you played in the forest, on Wednesday you played at the park, and on Thursday you played at the park again. Here "again" is very much connected to "at the park". But if on Monday you planted flowers at the park, on Tuesday you mowed grass at the park, on Wednesday you played at the park, and on Thursday you played at the park again, now we are modifying the playing only. – Daniel Austin Jul 31 '17 at 5:57

In this case the adverb modifies the prepositional phrase, due to its placement. Were the adverb to precede the verb, it would modify the verb.

When there are multiple eligible principals to modify, placement is paramount.


English adverbs don't modify verbs (with the possible exception of degree adverbs). One reasonably well worked out scheme characterizing English adverbs is McCawley's, where clause adverbs are distinguished by the type of constituent they modify. See chapter 19 pp. 666- of his The Syntactic Phenomena of English, some of which is available on line: SPHE.

I think again is a modifier like only and too which, also following McCawley, have a scope and a focus. The scope is a constituent establishing a basis for a contrast, and the focus is an item contrasted which is contained somewhere within the modified constituent.

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