In the grammar book I am using, subjuncts are defined as playing a subordinate role in a sentence. One of these uses, as given in the book, is to express a point of view:

"Morally, he should resign."

On the following page the book gives this example for a disjunct:

"Frankly, John should never have done it."

Style disjuncts express the conditions under which the listener/reader is to interpret the sentence. My question is borne out of a confusion: how do I distinguish between these two examples? They seem very similar to me.

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    From Wikipedia: In linguistics, a disjunct is a type of adverbial adjunct that expresses information that is not considered essential to the sentence it appears in, but which is considered to be the speaker's or writer's attitude towards, or descriptive statement of, the propositional content of the sentence, "expressing, for example, the speaker's degree of truthfulness or his manner of speaking." In your first example I'd say the adverb is an "essential" qualifier, but in the second it just tells us the speaker's attitude. May 31, 2018 at 13:37

1 Answer 1


[1] Morally, he should resign.

[2] Frankly, John should never have done it.

In [1] the adverb “morally” is a domain adjunct, the kind that restricts the domain to which the rest of the clause applies. The property of being obliged to resign is ascribed to the referent of "him" only with respect to some moral issue; in other respects he may be fine at his official duties.

By contrast, in [2] “frankly” is a speech act-related adjunct. The adverb “frankly” describes my speech act; the sentence can be glossed approximately as “I tell you frankly that John should never have done it”. The adverb doesn’t mediate the way in which the proposition relates to truth. The proposition that John should never have done it is presented as a fact. Even if I’m not actually speaking frankly, the residue would not be false.

  • Thanks for the reply. Your clarification is very helpful. Jun 5, 2018 at 9:28

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