She returned from spiritual retreat "vividly" (OR FULL OF LIFE)

Is alive a postpositive adjective?

If I want to say: She returned from spiritual retreat "ALIVELY" (refering to FULL OF LIFE). Is "ALIVELY" (incorrect) an adverb? since I can't find a way to turn the adjective ALIVE into an adverb, and I can't find the adverb "ALIVELY" as such.

  • Your example doesn't include the word "alive."
    – alphabet
    Commented Feb 23 at 2:06
  • 3
    You will need to go to some trouble to make "alive" mean "full of life" instead of "not dead". It would be clearer to just use the phrase "full of life".
    – Peter
    Commented Feb 23 at 4:39
  • Just more alive or energized would get your point across without made-up words. Commented Feb 23 at 5:08
  • Alive can mean "marked by alertness" or "marked by much life, activity", but generally this is only in fixed expressions ("came alive", "alive with X"), and I absolutely agree that "not dead" is the normal meaning in most contexts with people ("functional", "switched on" for machines).
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 23 at 8:49
  • Alively would be an adverb if it existed, but it doesn't. You don't need an adverb here; you are not describing the manner in which she returned, but the state she was in at the time. Alive on its own won't do, since it would just indicate that she wasn't dead, but you could say vividly alive. Commented Feb 23 at 8:53

4 Answers 4


Postpositive adjectives are part of noun phrases: the president elect, any students absent, etc.

Adjectives can generally be used either as attributive modifiers (alive doesn't allow this except when it has a modifier like half), postpositives, or predicatively (both of the latter are allowed by alive):

*The alive organism moved around. [not allowed]

Even a half alive virus contributes to the biosphere. [attributive]

The only thing alive in this room is that machine. [postpositive]

He looks alive and healthy, tanned as a shiny penny, trim as a trout. [predicative]

  • 1
    I had initially thought he just meant that she returned alive, but apparently not. :)
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 23 at 4:12

You probably mean that she returned revived:

give new life or energy to (Vocabulary.com)

or invigorated

made or become fresh in spirits or vigor (M-W)


The idiomatic expression is "feeling alive":

She returned from the retreat feeling alive.

It would be understood to mean fev's (re)invigorated or revived.


A subject-orientated secondary predicate [according to some grammarians] (arguably depictive, arguably resultative) is probably what you're seeking. But

  • She returned from her spiritual retreat alive

doesn't work for two reasons, the first being that the default sense of 'alive' is 'not dead' here, as remarked by Peter.

But the fact that

  • He appeared at last out of the jungle[,] alive

sounds far less natural than

  • He appeared at last out of the jungle, alive and kicking

shows that not all such constructions work equally well.

  • She returned from her spiritual retreat vivacious

doesn't sound at all natural, whereas

  • She returned from her spiritual retreat refreshed and revitalised

sounds fine.

  • She returned from her spiritual retreat full of vim and vigour

is equally idiomatic, slightly less formal.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.