Can adverbs be used to modify nouns?

Questions from teachers about English grammar and usage

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Can adverbs be used to modify nouns?

Unread post by woodsli » Thu Jun 18, 2015 12:06 am

Recently, I'm puzzled by the usage of the adverb "home" in this sentence: "He did some shopping on his way home." After i toured round some Chinese grammar forums on the internet, they all say here "home" is used as an attributive modifying "way", and other adverbs such as "here" "there" "now" "then" can also be used in this way, but I still doubt about it. Hope some native speakers would give me some help.

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Re: Can adverbs be used to modify nouns?

Unread post by RosalindaPerez » Sat Nov 14, 2015 3:34 pm

Seeing that there have been 1,502 views but no replies yet to your post dated June 18, 2015, I would like to try to answer your question though I'm not a native speaker of English.

Adverbs cannot be used to modify nouns as these can only be used to modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. In your example sentence "He did some shopping on his way home," "He" is the subject, "did" is the verb, "some shopping" is your direct object, and "on his way home" is an adverbial. The word "home" itself may be a noun but is used as an adverb as it answers the question "where?" (i.e. on his way where? home)

An attributive is an adjective or a noun that precedes a noun and describes or expresses a characteristic of the noun. (examples: new home or capable assistant)

Therefore, in your sentence, although "home" functions as an adverb, in a sense it could also be an attributive as it describes what kind of "way" it is: a way "home." Overlapping functions may be at play here.

I don't know if the above explanation helps, if it doesn't, maybe it can serve as a springboard for further discussion of this subject. :)

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Re: Can adverbs be used to modify nouns?

Unread post by Susan » Sat Nov 14, 2015 4:18 pm

thanks Rosalinda

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