In these sentences, would adverb at the beginning (Never, Basically) modify the verb phrase and adverb at the end (again, everyday)?

I never saw the man again.

I basically ate pizza everyday.

Does never modify saw the man again or would again modify never saw the man?

Does basically modify ate pizza everyday or everyday modify basically ate pizza?

1 Answer 1


Basically, I don't know. I'd classify "basically" as a performative adverb, since it qualifies the appropriateness of my speech act of saying "I ate pizza every day". It means that it is essentially true, though there might be a few exceptional days when I didn't eat pizza, so it modifies the performance of this speech act.

The most natural place for a modifier is immediately before or after the constituent that it modifies. This leads us to "Basically, I ate pizza" or "I ate pizza, basically".

"Every day" modifies either a sentence describing an event or a verb phrase describing an action. It's not clear which. This suggests three different positions for "every day", and of those "I every day ate pizza" is the only one that sounds peculiar. Perhaps "every day" does not actually modify an action, but only an event, and that's why it doesn't come right before a verb phrase.

It seems clear why *"Every day basically I ate pizza" is odd. The position of "every day" implies it modifies the saying of the sentence "I ate pizza", which makes little sense.

I don't know why "basically" can come between subject and verb phrase, "I basically ate pizza every day", however other performative adverbs can also occur in this position: "I frankly don't give a damn" (cf. "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.").

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