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Thesaurus of Descriptive English
Thesaurus of Fluent English Adjectives
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  Thesaurus of Descriptive English >Sample

Thesaurus of
Descriptive English

by Prof. Kev Nair


A snippet from the Introduction

How adverbs work
This is a reference book that can help you find out what verbs or adjectives normally go with a given adverb.

In theory, several adverbs can be thought of as possible modifiers of an adjective or verb, and so in theory, several adverb + adjective or adverb + verb combinations are possible. But mind you, not all of them would be acceptable combinations. That is, native speakers of English wouldn’t consider them all as ‘normal’ and so wouldn’t normally use them all in speech or writing. And they would find it quite odd if, when you speak to them or write to them, you use combinations that they consider unacceptable.

For example, take the adverb extremely. Can you use it to modify useless? That is, is the term extremely useless an acceptable combination? The answer is No. The adverb extremely does not normally occur together with useless. So if you use the combination extremely useless in your speech or writing, you’re likely to sound unEnglish. Then what are the adjectives (and verbs) that can acceptably be modified by the adverb extremely? Just look up the headword extremely in this thesaurus, and you’ll get the answer.

In other words, this book helps you find acceptable adverbs that can go with your adjectives and verbs. That is, this is primarily a book that covers acceptable word combinations of two types: adverb + adjective and adverb + verb. These are combinations that occur quite frequently in speech and writing — more frequently than can be expected to happen by chance. The technical name for word combinations like these is collocations.

Now when you look up an adverb-headword and go through the verbs and adjectives listed under that adverb, here’s one question that can come up your mind: Should I use the adverb before the adjectives /verbs or after them?

At the outset, understand that, in actual practice, this is not a difficult issue at all. First of all, you don’t need to learn by heart what adverbs tend to occur in the initial position (in a clause), what adverbs tend to occur in the medial position (in a clause) and what adverbs tend to occur in the end position (in a clause). Generally speaking, if you know what adverbs tend to collocate – occur together – with a particular adjective or verb, that knowledge as well as your general grounding in grammar and syntax would help you use the adverbs in the appropriate position.

Secondly, as far as the adjectives listed under an adverb-headword are concerned, you should use them all after the adverb concerned. There are only two exceptions worth considering: The adverbs enough and indeed.

The first of these two adverbs, enough, always occur after the adjective concerned.

E.g. bad enough, big enough, deep enough, difficult enough, good enough, hard enough, hot enough, large enough, lucky enough, warm enough, wise enough.

The second adverb, indeed, is... (continued in the book)

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