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I am wondering whether especially is always an adverb, specifically when used in this context:

We must be wary of your surroundings, especially in the city.

I do not think that it modifies any verbs, so is this still an adverb in this context?

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  • Even though it can be equated to 'and this is particularly true', it's lumped in the adverb class here. In fact, I'd say 'especially' isn't used to modify a verb as often as in other ways. Jul 19 '19 at 16:43
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    Yes, it's an adverb (a type of focusing modifier), but it's not a modifier of the VP; rather, it's a modifier in the structure of the PP "especially in the city". The comma marks the PP as a supplementary adjunct, a loosely attached expression set off by intonation and by punctuation, presenting supplementary non-integrated information. Supplements don't modify another element but have a semantic 'anchor' that they refer to. Here, the anchor is the entire preceding clause "we must be wary of your surroundings".
    – BillJ
    Jul 19 '19 at 16:48
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    @BillJ, I upvoted your comment and I'll upvote it too if you consider to move it to the answer rubric. Jul 19 '19 at 17:40
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    I agree with the other comments, but this could be read as "must be especially wary of your surroundings in the city", using especially as a simple adverb.
    – Jim Mack
    Jul 19 '19 at 17:53
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    @EdwinAshworth - I'm no expert on the prototypical, but I was taught that the role of adverbs is to modify verbs, adjectives and other adverbs. Is that not the case? grammarly.com/blog/adverb
    – Jim Mack
    Jul 19 '19 at 19:57
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We must be wary of your surroundings, especially in the city.

Yes, "especially" is an adverb (a type of focusing modifier), but it's not a modifier of the VP; rather, it's a modifier in the structure of the PP "especially in the city".

The comma marks the PP as a supplementary adjunct, a loosely attached expression set off by intonation and by punctuation, presenting supplementary non-integrated information.

Supplements don't modify other elements but have a semantic 'anchor' that they refer to. Here, the anchor is the entire preceding clause "we must be wary of your surroundings"

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  • The root cause of ELU’s never-ending stream of questions about paradoxical part-of-speech assignments of particular words is that “regular” people are stuck thinking in old-school dependency grammars not modern constituency grammars: They have no room for phrases in their models! Any deep understanding of grammar requires recognizing how not mere words but entire syntactic constituents are fitted together this or that way in a sentence. Here they too often (wrongly) think that especially X can only be legal when X is just a single word, but that’s just not how grammar works.
    – tchrist
    Jul 20 '19 at 16:19

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