What is part of speech of "evening" in sentences below?

1. She meets her friends every evening.
2. She met her friends yesterday evening.

I find that evening is only a noun or a adjective instead of a adverb from Collins.

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    Why do you not think that "noun" is the answer? – AndyT May 22 '18 at 10:09
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    @AndyT Probably because idiot entries like the one in Oxford Dictionaries Online, say it is an adverb in such sentences. (See the entry below the noun one. And then weep/laugh) The best thing the OP could learn here is not to trust dictionaries on parts of speech. – Araucaria May 22 '18 at 13:23
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    @mahmudkoya No, they aren't. They are noun phrases! :) It's never a good idea to use a dictionary for parts of speech!. – Araucaria May 22 '18 at 13:24
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    @Araucaria Ah yes. I keyed in my comment earlier, but only just got around to sending it, without spotting you answer. Btw, I don't think many people realise that NPs can be modifiers in clause structure, e.g. "Ed arrives this evening". – BillJ May 22 '18 at 15:32
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    Mahmud, the OP asked what part of speech "evening" belongs to. It's a noun, not an adverb. – BillJ May 23 '18 at 9:14

Unfortunately, dictionaries are not very good at grammar (that's not what they're meant to be good at!). The Collins entry is correct; the word evening is a noun in each case here. However, Oxford Dictionaries Online classify evening as an adverb in phrases such as every evening (if following the link, scroll down to the 'adverb' definition and examples). The Oxford online entry, unfortunately, is incorrect.

Some dictionaries confuse the grammatical relations of a word, or a phrase it occurs in, with its part of speech. Here the word evening is a noun functioning as Head of a noun phrase. This noun phrase is an Adjunct (or Modifier) - it's an extra piece of information added onto the sentence. Some people call Adjuncts Adverbials (it is important to remember that an adverbial is not an adverb!!!). Bad dictionary entries tend to call every word that occurs in an Adjunct an adverb. This is not a good thing to do. It isn't accurate and it doesn't help learners.

We can see that every evening is a noun phrase, and evening a noun, for several reasons:

1. We can use it as a Subject, or Object

  • Every evening is special here.
  • I hated every evening.

2. Every is a determinative which only occurs in noun phrases

  • Every dog
  • *Every beautifully (ungrammatical - every with adverb)

3. We can use the plural form of evening in similar phrases

  • We went there every evening
  • We went there some evenings

Nouns inflect for number and are singular and plural. English adverbs don't inflect for number and cannot be singular or plural.

4. We can use an adjective to modify evening

  • We went there every quiet evening
  • *We went there every quietly evening (ungrammatical - adverb as modifier of evening)

We use adjectives to modify nouns. We have to use adverbs to modify adverbs. We cannot use adjectives:

  • She danced extremely beautifully
  • *She danced extreme beautifully (ungrammatical - adjective modifying adverb)

In short then, evening is a noun, not an adverb when it occurs in phrases such as every evening. The other thing to learn here is that we shouldn't rely on dictionaries for accurate grammar information!

  • Thanks for your time and answer. I read it slowly. So can I say that the noun phrase "every evening" in my example is as an adverbial? – Big Shield May 22 '18 at 14:35
  • @BigShield You're welcome. Yes, that's right (I don't personally like the term Adverbial! I prefer Adjunct, but that's just me). – Araucaria May 22 '18 at 14:36
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    +1 Nice one! I prefer adjunct too -- I think we agreed on that over on SE Linguistics some time ago. – BillJ May 22 '18 at 15:35

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