I thought I knew what an adverb was: anything ending in “-ly”, which describes a verb (happily, sadly, strangely). But there’s so much more to it, as I learnt from my 9 year old daughter’s homework at the weekend. She had to include “Time Adverbials” in her piece about how the school canteen works. Thank goodness for search engines. I now know more about adverbs relating to time than I used to. l learnt last year (when she was 8) that “yesterday”, “today” and “tomorrow” are all adverbs. Was that true when I was at school? I don’t remember learning that.
In the interests of sharing what I learnt over the weekend, from reading through the homework of someone under 10 years old, there are three types of “Time Adverbial”: when (“yesterday”, “in 2015”, “later”) how long (“all day”, “since 2015”, “from May to December”) and frequency (“usually”, “sometimes”, “seldom”).
When I was a teenager my father read something about comic uses of adverbs, for example: “Have you been to Norfolk?” she asked, flatly. Or: “I haven’t read that big book by Victor Hugo”, said Les miserably. We made up our own examples for months afterwards. My brother was asking about them at Christmas. A few more came to mind but it’s over 30 years since I set my mind to them. “I regret to tell you that your account is overdrawn”, said the bank manager, incredibly (ink-red-ibly). “And what would you like for dessert?” she asked, sweetly. “Something with lemon on top, and a pastry base”, he said, tartly.
“I like to write about a different word every seven days”, he said weakly. We’re dealing with homophones here of course, which my daughter was asking about before school this morning, but that’s another story.
After drafting this piece I got rather carried away with the comic uses of adverbs and wrote this piece, which contains dozens of them.