Barrie England’s latest blog post is titled “The Negative Canon: ‘Adjectives Can’t Be Adverbs”.
Barrie says, “An adjective modifies a noun. It can be attributive, as in ‘green grass’, or predicative, as in ‘the grass is green’. An adverb can modify a verb (‘I’ll see you soon’), an adjective (‘It’s very late’), another adverb (‘really quickly’) or it can introduce a whole sentence (‘Thankfully, it’s stopped raining’). So far, so good, but the line between adjectives and adverbs is not as clear as some might like. There are some words that are thought of only as adjectives which have in fact long been adverbs as well, andlong is one of them. Others include slow, plain, quick, good, long, tight, differentand soft. In his poem ‘Memorabilia’, Browning wrote ‘I saw Shelley plain’, and in ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’, Yeats wrote ‘Peace comes dropping slow.’ That is one answer to those who would tell us that You can hear it plain and Go slow should be You can hear it plainly and Go slowly.“