In the sentence:

I don't know very much.

What parts of speech do the words know very much play?

I is clearly the subject, and don’t is a verb/adverb contraction.

Is know an adverb to do?

Very seems like an adjective, but then what is much?

closed as off-topic by David, user240918, Davo, Edwin Ashworth, Scott Dec 29 '17 at 23:52

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • I can't tell what you're asking here: what's a "role of speech"? Do you mean a part of speech or a grammatical role? – tchrist Dec 29 '17 at 17:44
  • I have changed my post to use 'part' consistantly. I was not aware that the word 'role' would be confusing, I definitely meant 'part of speech'. – Brian Dec 29 '17 at 18:05

I don't know very much.

"I" is a pronoun functioning as 'subject'.

"don't" is a verb (auxiliary) functioning as 'predicator'.

"know" is a verb functioning as 'predicator'.

"very" is an adverb function as 'modifier'.

"much" is a determinative functioning as 'determiner-head'.

Note: function = grammatical role.


I is the subject, don’t know is the verb, and very much is the direct object. The verb and direct object together make up the predicate.

  1. I is the first-person-singular personal pronoun in the subject case.

  2. Don’t is negated auxiliary verb, the first part of a multiword verb phrase. It is not marked as a third-person-singular because the subject is in the first person.

  3. Know is the bare infinitive verb, the second part of a multiword verb phrase.

  4. Very is here best considered an intensifier, not a general-purpose adverb: notice how it cannot modify verbs. Some analyses treat it as an adjective (the very idea!) or an adverb, but I prefer intensifier.

  5. Much can in general be an adverb (much better), a determinative / determiner (much trouble), or a pronoun (didn’t each much) especially when used with negated verbs as a sort of negative polarity item (NPI). The last seems to fit best here.

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