It is likely to rain.

Here likely is a predicate adjective with to rain as the complement (correct me if I'm wrong).

Who took the cookie? It was likely Bob.

Is likely also a predicate adjective here, or is it an adverb modifying was? It certainly seems like the case if one were to substitute probably in its stead, but I'm not certain.

  • It's an adverb. Also it's an adverb in Likely it was Bob. Adverbs can go in many different places. Of course, it means the same thing in either case, so there is no benefit to knowing that one usage is adjectival and the other is adverbial. Apr 14, 2020 at 21:33
  • @JohnLawler Thanks for the prompt answer. In It is likely to rain. why is it wrong to argue that likely is an adverb modifying is?
    – Joe
    Apr 15, 2020 at 17:38
  • Because likely is the predicate adjective in that sentence. And nothing ever modifies is; it's always an auxiliary verb, and adverbs modify main verbs or verb phrases or clauses. Apr 15, 2020 at 18:51
  • @JohnLawler Your second statement applies to It is likely to rain and not It is likely Bob, right?
    – Joe
    Apr 15, 2020 at 19:13
  • Right. It is likely to rain is A-Raising of For it to rain is likely, and likely has the same role in both sentences. Apr 15, 2020 at 21:50


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