English is one of the world’s most flexible languages. In many languages the adverbs must be in a specific place in a sentence. But notice how many places we can place the adverb only:
Only Judy can kiss Alehandro on Saturday nights.
Judy only can kiss Alehandro on Saturday nights.
Judy can only kiss Alehandro on Saturday nights.
Judy can kiss only Alehandro on Saturday nights.
Judy can kiss Alehandro only on Saturday nights.
Judy can kiss Alehandro on Saturday nights only.
Trees with Adverbs
As you have seen, the upper-right box usually will be a verb.
If there is an adverb before the verb in the sentence, then place it before the verb.
Let’s make a tree for the following example: Our kangaroo quickly delivered the birthday gifts.
Let’s change the position of the adverb. We will have the sentence read this way: Our kangaroo delivered the birthday gifts quickly.
Quickly still refers to delivered, even though it appears in a different place in the sentence. The tree thus reads like this:
Small Group Activity
Name the part of speech for each word. Then draw a tree for each sentence.
- Scruffy now can eat his food from the dog bowl.
- Xandra really likes to run in the evening.
- Chickens sometimes enjoy British novels.
Use these if your teacher wants you to color the trees:
Verbs: light green
Adverbs: dark green
Most professional writers avoid splitting verbs with adverbs. They feel it reduces the verb’s strength. But there is nothing grammatically wrong with splitting verbs.
Scruffy can now eat his food from the dog bowl.
Scruffy now can eat his food from the dog bowl.
Many grammar books also teach that you must not put words between to and its verb. However, there is nothing wrong with doing that.
They were going to boldly go where humankind had never gone before.
Small Group Activity
As a group, discuss the difference in meaning between the two sentences below. Then see if your meanings differ from those in other groups.
Xandra really likes to run in the evening.
Xandra likes to really run in the evening.
Individual or Small Group Activity
Complete the exercise: Hungary