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I have loved the circus ever since I was a child.

Is ever modifying since, was or loved.

The word ever is listed in most dictionaries as an adverb. I describe word functions as narrowly as possible, and the function of adverbs is: "an adverb modifies a verb, adjective or another adverb"

The most obvious/ closest modifying relation is to the word since, but that is a conjunction, and conflicts with my definition of the word function.

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    Ever modifies since ('at all times since I was a child'). Apr 20, 2023 at 7:34
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    Adverbs don't always modify verbs, adjectives, or adverbs: "An adverb is a word or an expression that generally modifies a verb, adjective, another adverb, determiner, clause, preposition, or sentence." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adverb Note that since can be adverb, conjunction, or preposition.
    – Stuart F
    Apr 20, 2023 at 8:29
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    'Continuously' would do the same job here, semantically, but 'ever since' seems more cohesive to me. Indeed, many dictionaries have a separate entry for the fixed phrase ever since, an argument for considering it as a single lexeme. / One has to be careful in applying the term 'modifier'. The time constraint on 'continuously' here is 'in the time between my childhood and now'. Certainly, 'I have loved the circus continuously', though stodgy, works; 'I have loved the circus ever' certainly doesn't. Yes, 'The dwarves have ever suspected the elves' would be fine written by Tolkien. Apr 20, 2023 at 9:59
  • "Since" is not a conjunction but a preposition. Here, it is modified by the adverb "ever".
    – BillJ
    Apr 20, 2023 at 10:37
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    Ever since is a fixed phrase, emphasizing the continuous nature of the time span. Neither part needs to "modify" anything, any more than good modifies bye. Apr 20, 2023 at 16:19

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You are correct that ever is modifying "since," or rather the whole clause "since I was a child." It is indeed an adverb.

I describe word functions as narrowly as possible, and the function of adverbs is: "an adverb modifies a verb, adjective or another adverb."

This is why others have not adopted your definition of the word "adverb"; it fails to account for words like "ever" in the sentence you provide.

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  • Well, I tell my students that this is just a word with functional scope. It can influence the meaning of verbs and verb phrases, and clauses. It can also modify a conjunction (since) and by extension the clause it introduces with since. I guess I need to add clause to my definition May 21, 2023 at 12:14
  • It can also modofy a noun phrase: "Ever the man of action, he scaled to wall to rescue the old woman." May 21, 2023 at 12:17

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