A task is to reveal and mark all adverbs in a passage. The passage, which is written in English, contains a few Latin phrases, such as apriori, defacto, etc.

Can this sort of Latin phrases, given they are functioning in a sentence as adverbial modifiers, be regarded as adverbs in English?

  • 1
    Defacto can be considered an adverb, or an adjective, depending on the sentence.
    – NVZ
    Jun 24, 2017 at 12:19
  • 1
    Most English dictionaries prefer the spellings a priori and de facto and treat the terms as anglicized to the extent that they need not be italicized as foreign words. (I realize that you don't ask about either of these points in your question.)
    – Sven Yargs
    Jun 24, 2017 at 18:46
  • Much of English is borrowed words. They may have originated as Latin, but they're now English words. You can treat them as any other words.
    – fixer1234
    Jun 24, 2017 at 20:06

1 Answer 1


No, they cannot. Only words have part-of-speech assignments. An adverb is always a single word; a multiple-word phrase can therefore never be an adverb, even when that phrase is modifying a verb or other modifier.

That isn't to say that as a constituent, you can't replace the one with other; for the most part, you can. For example:

  1. He ran faster yesterday.
  2. He ran in a faster manner yesterday.

Grammatically, the two emboldened pieces perform the same role in their respective sentences. However, only the first one is an adverb. The second is a phrase. Here both are phrases:

  1. He graduated with high honors.
  2. He graduated summa cum laude.

No matter the language, neither of those phrases “is” an adverb, but they do both modify the verb.

All that said, your job is to answer the exercise given to you in whatever way they want you to, whether that makes sounds sense or not. Therefore the only way to know the right answer for your test is to ask the person giving the test what they want you to answer. What we say here won’t matter.

  • Is an open compound noun a noun? 'Only words have POS assignments' presupposes that 'word' is well-defined. I think there's a grammarian here (I don't mean JL) who stretches the term well beyond 'orthographic word'. Thoughtco has: << Compound adverbs are sometimes written as one word (e.g., somewhere), sometimes as one hyphenated word (self-consciously), and sometimes as ... Jun 24, 2017 at 20:56
  • two words (inside out). Multi-word adverbs are commonly called adverbial phrases. In the Oxford Modern English Grammar (2011), Bas Aarts notes that "English allows a great variety of compounds" and "not everyone agrees exactly on how to delimit the class of compounds." >> Jun 24, 2017 at 20:56
  • @EdwinAshworth Many adverbs did begin life as multiword adverbial phrases a-fore-times ere their ephemeral hyphens were lost to us: to-day, now-a-days, a-blaze, a-float, a-board, a-fraid, a-like and many an-other be-side-s.
    – tchrist
    Jun 24, 2017 at 21:03
  • What I'm saying is that some authorities class 'ink well' say as a noun. Crystal (IMO) tried to get round this conflict by calling it a lexeme (along with 'kick the bucket' say when it's unitary in meaning), but people seem even to have redefined the term he invented. Jun 24, 2017 at 21:49
  • @tchrist Sorry for misprinting my previous comment. I actually meant to say as follows.That's neither a test nor an exercise.That is a small step within a research (not mine). So I'm afraid including Latin phrases, even those written as single words but comparatively recent residents in English, retaining their original morthological structure, in the class of English adverbs might distort the further analysis results. On reading the answer and the comments, which are informative and helpful, I see more aspects of the problem.
    – O.Raz
    Jun 26, 2017 at 18:37

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