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Stylistic function of adverbs
Adverbs gain a special stylistic value due to their polysemy. This can be illustrated by the adverb NOW:
In scientific prose NOW serves as a means of logical connection of statements. It can be substituted by connective phrases (then, so, in the present manual, later on) thus helping the scientist to arrange his ideas clearly and precisely.
In a literary text NOW functions as the time-adverbial (modifier), creating the time-background of narration, indicating the present moment, period, stating clearly the time of the action going on. The adverb THEN is frequently employed to show the sequence of events.
NOW in E. Hemingway's novel "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and THEN in E. Hemingway's short story "In Another Country" are regarded as key words organizing the complex combination and interrelation of the past, present and future events in the lives of the protagonists.
Adverbs NOW, BEFORE, AFTER are made conspicuous in American press when reference is made to the events of 9/11 (September 11, 2001). They help to underline the depth of national tragedy.
The stylistic power of adverbs is also connected with various transpositions:
Adverb of location EVERYWHERE can be transposed into the class of nouns and serve as the poetic equivalent of the author's overwhelming feeling of sadness and dejection:
The stupid heart that will not learn
The everywhere of grief (G. Baker).
Demonstrative pronouns THIS / THAT are frequently transposed into adverbs in informal communication in order to intensify the degree of some quality expressed by an adjective: Is it that funny? (= so, very); Don't be that silly!
Adjectives can be used as intensifiers — instead of adverbs modifying the following adjectives. In conversational informal English such use conveys spontaneity: real nice (= really nice); He was dead drunk (= absolutely drunk); He is pretty tall (= quite tall).
Some adjectives and adverbs are used interchangeably without involving a difference in meaning, but the adjective form tends to be more informal, e.g.: He drove slow/slowly for the next mile; She buys her clothes cheap/ cheaply.
Time adverbial JUST in spoken English is used in requests to make them sound more polite, less direct: Could I just borrow your pen for a second? Can I just ask you something?
Adverb ABSOLUTELY is transposed into the class of interjections and jS used instead of the yes-answer to yes-no questions: — Did you like the performance? —Absolutely.
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