Adverbs for Focus

Draw attention to particular information in a clause

Guide speaking
 

 

Focusing on a particular element of a sentence

EMPHASIS IN SPEECH

In speech, a sentence part that receives emphasis has a particular meaning.  Each sentence below differs in meaning depending on the part that is stressed. 

WHO IS COMING?

YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS are coming with us.  (Just you, not the others.) 

WHAT ARE WE DOING?

You and your friends ARE COMING with us. (We are your means of getting there.) 

WITH WHOM?

You and your friends are coming with US. (With us, not anyone else.)

WHY?

You and your friends are comin with us BECAUSE WE HAVE TO CARPOOL(For no other reason!)

EMPHASIS IN WRITING (OR SPEECH)

In writing and speech, we draw attention to a part of a sentence with a focusing adverb. Without the focusing word, the spoken version would require emphasis to make its meaning known.  When we use a focusing adverb, it signals to the reader or listener—this information is important!

BEFORE THE SUBJECT

ONLY you and your friends can go with us.  Modifies the subject (a noun phrase).

BEFORE THE MAIN VERB

You and your friends are ONLY coming with usModifies the verb phrase. 

BEFORE A PREP. PHRASE

You and your friends are coming ONLY with usModifies a prepositional phrase.

BEFORE  A CLAUSE

You and your friends are coming with us ONLY because we have to carpool. Modifies an adverbial clause.

 

 

 

Focus Adverb—Addition and Limitation

ADDITIVE LIMITED LIMITED

also

alone

not only

as well

but

only

too

exactly

precisely

even

exclusively

purely

 

just

simply

 

merely

solely

 

 

 

Focus Adverbs—Partial Limitation, Negative, Choice and Surprise

PARTIAL LIMITATION PARTIAL LIMITATION OTHER

chiefly

in particular

NEGATIVE

especially

predominantly

neither / nor

mainly

primarily

CHOICE

mostly

at least

either

notably

for the most part  mostly

SURPRISE

particularly

by and large  mostly

even

Also see "not only, but also".

(Huddleston 587)  (Swan 24.6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Focusing Adverbs

Their Effect in a Sentence

mobile/cel phone
 

 

With and Without — the focusing-adverb effect

WITHOUT FOCUSING ADVERBS

Typically an adverb modifies another word such as a verb, adjective, another adverb or a prepositional phrase.  Focusing adverbs such as also, just, even, only mainly, mostly, particularly, especially, either or, neither nor, etc. differ because they point to a part of a clause. Focusing adverbs can modify noun phrases, prepositional phrases, verb phrases, adjective phrases and adverbial phrases. Compare the sentences without and with focusing adverbs:

ADDITION

Mobile/cell phones can browse the Internet. They can play music. 

Mobile/cell phones can browse the Internet, and they can play music.  (A conjunction can add a clause.)

 

LIMITATION

My mobile phone cannot make long-distance call.   It makes local calls.

My mobile phone cannot make long-distance call, but it does make local calls. (Auxiliary moved for emphasis.)

PARTIAL LIMITATION

My mobile/cell phone has been very useful. (Adverb modifies adjective.)

My mobile/cell phone can make calls and hold contact numbers. It is for making calls.  

SURPRISE OR EXCEPTION

My cell phone can navigate to an address, and it can show me where the traffic is .

 

CHOICE / NEGATIVE

My mobile phone can browse the Internet, or It can send a text message. 

My mobile phone cannot browse the Internet, and It cannot send a text message. 

WITH FOCUSING ADVERBS

Focusing adverbs can "point to" any part of the sentence, but they most commonly focus on the verb phrase. They may occur next to (before) the phrase they refer to, or they may occur in a clause after. (See Sentence Position .) We can state the sentence without a focusing adverb, but its attention-getting effect will be lost!

FOCUS ON ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Mobile phones can browse the Internet. They can also play music. (also draws focus to the entire verb phrase)

Mobile phones can browse the Internet, and they can also play music.   and… also

Mobile phones can browse the Internet, but they cannot also receive a call.    but… not also 

FOCUS ON LIMITATION

My mobile phone cannot make long-distance call. It can only / just make local calls

My mobile phone cannot make long-distance calls. It is primarily / solely for local call.   

FOCUS ON PARTIAL LIMITATION

My cell phone has especially / particularly been useful.  (truly, especially)  (but not: very)

My cell phone  is mainly / mostly for making calls.  (truly, especially, particularly, above all 

FOCUS ON A SURPRISING OCCURENCE

My cell phone can navigate to an address. It can even show me where the traffic is(surprisingly)

My mobile phone cannot browse the Internet. It cannot even save phone numbers. (sadly)

FOCUS ON CHOICE OR NEGATIVE

My mobile phone can either browse the Internet, or it can send a text message. (choice of one)

My mobile phone can neither browse the Internet nor can it send a text message.  (nothing!) 

 

Related pages: And / In addition  |  Indeed / Even | Splitting Verbs
En-US— cell phone;   En-Br— mobile [phone]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adverbs

Focusing on Parts of a Sentence

flip flops
 

 

Focus on Subject, Verb or Object

SUBJECT– NOUN PHRASE VERB PHRASE OBJECT– NOUN PHRASE

Some focusing adverbs occur initially, drawing focus to the subject.

Most focusing verbs can occur mid-position (1) after the main verb,  (2) after the auxiliary but before the main verb, (3) after a "be" main verb.

Most focusing adverbs can appear after the verb drawing attention to the object or a prepositional phrase. (In place of also, too or as well can be used in final position.


Only
you would wear flip flops to a formal dinner.


You should only wear flip flops to a beach party.


After foot surgery, I could wear only flip flops.

Even I wouldn't wear flip-flops to the White House.  (I am no exception.)

I wouldn't even wear flip-flops to the supermarket. (no exceptions)

I wouldn't wear even flip-flops.  (not shoes and not flip-flops)

Just we wore flip-flops to dinner. (Only we did, not other people.)

We just ate appetizers not dinner.  (only— ate, didn't dance)

We ate just a little bit(only — not much)

*Also I am sending a kiss.  Also, I am sending a kiss. (conj. adverb)

I am also sending a kiss (while mailing these cookies)

I am sending also a kiss [too / as well]. (with these cookies) 

*Really I am sorry.  / Really, I am sorry..  (conj. adverb)

I really am sorry. (no doubt)  / I am really sorry.  (very sorry– adj.)


 

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.
Related page Sentence adverbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just

Other Meanings

 

 

 

Just— other meaings

REALLY ONLY RECENTLY EXACTLY

When just comes before a verb giving a strong opinion (love, adore, hate, can't stand, tolerate, can't put up with), the meaning is often really.  When speaking, the emphasis is on the verb.

Just  can also mean only (a focusing adverb expresses limitation). When speaking, the emphasis is on just.

Just  can also mean recently. When speaking, the emphasis is on the verb — visited, mailed.

Just  can also mean exactly.

We just LOVE Hawaii.  (really — truly)

We just love Hawaii but not Oahu(only)

We have just VISITED Hawaii (recently)

Hawaii is just what we like. (exactly)

We just HATE standing in line at the post office(really — truly)

We just mailed the stamped envelopes. The unstamped ones are still here.  (only)

We just MAILED the stamped envelopes. (recently)

It's just four o'clock. The post office is closed.

This car just takes off!  (In my opinion, it's fast)
 

This car just needs a little gas. (only)

This car has just been serviced. (recently)

It's just the car I want. (exactly)

Related pages: Just / Recently  |  Indeed / Even

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also

Other Functions

 

 

 

Also — other possibly confusing uses

FOCUSING ADVERB CONJUNCTION CONJUNCTIVE ADVERB

Also is commonly used as a focusing adverb to emphasize the addition of information  to what has already been mentioned. 

Also, as a conjunction, is used in place of and… also. (This use is considered informal by some native speakers.)

Also, as a conjunctive adverb or transition word, is used in place of Additionally or Moreover. (This use is considered informal by some native speakers.)

Besides being a phone, it is also a music player.

It's a phone, also a music player.   and also

It's a phone. Also, it's a music player.   Additionally

Along with a new touchscreen, it will also have a keyboard.
 

It will have a touchscreen, also a keyboard.   and also

It will have a touchscreen. Also, it will feature a touch screen

Also is not used to talk about surprising extremes. ( e.g. Everyone helped with the packing — even the dog!   not —also the dog!) — (Swan 189.3) 
Solution - lightbulbPop-Q "Also"

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adverbs for Focus

Sentence Placement

 

 

 

Subject Modifier

FOCUSING ADEVERB SUBJECT AUXILIARY VERB –plain form OBJECT

Also / Only / Even

Mike

 

likes

the new features.

 

Mike

will

use

the new features.

 

Mike

is

enjoying

the new features.

 

Mike

has  been

using

the new features.  

 

 

Verb Modifier

SUBJECT AUXILIARY FOCUSING ADVERB VERB –plain form  

Mike

 

also / mostly / only / even

loves 

the new features.

Mike

can

also / mostly / only / even

use

the new features.

Mike

is

also / mostly / only / even

enjoying

the new features.

Mike

 

also / mostly / only / even

is enjoying  aux. + verb

the new features. 

Mike

has 

also / mostly / only / even

been using

the new features.

Mike

has been

also / mostly / only / even

using

the new features

Mike

is

also / mostly / only / even 

 

here today. 

 

 

Verb Complement Modifier 

SUBJECT VERB FOCUSING ADVERB COMPLEMENT FOCUSING ADVERB

Mike

has been using

mostly / only / even

the new features.

Modifies the object noun

Mike

likes

 

the new features

as well.  Modifies the verb + object.

Mike

will use

 

the new features

too. Modifies the verb + object.

Mike

is

 

here today

 

only / *also!

 

complement – a word, phrase or clause which is necessary in a sentence to complete its meaning

*Used as an afterthought to the sentence; modifies the verb + complement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

Traditional Grammar and Linguistic Description

Advanced

 

 

TRADITIONAL GRAMMAR LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION

Paired conjunctions:   "The same grammatical form should follow each part of the paired conjunctions. " — Azar (Azar 16-3)

Current grammar analyzes words such as also and only as focusing adverbs.  They are distinguished from other adverbs in that they modify a wide range of constituent parts: noun phrase, verb phrase, prepositional phrase, adjective phrase, adverb phrase, or a whole clause. Focusing adverbs can be restrictive or additive, and they can include negation (not only). (Huddleston 6.7.3) 

 

"These adverbs 'point to' one part of a clause." (Swan 24.6)

 

In Quirk & Greenbaum (1985) words such as also and only were called focusing subjuncts with subdivisions: restrictives and additives.  (Biber 8.116)

 

Resources

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice

Tracy Toon Watch

Dick Tracy Watch

 

 

Complete the sentence with a focusing adverb.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.

 

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.
you 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

Facebook Anxiety

 

 

 

Complete the paragraph with focusing adverbs.

  1. Select the options that best complete the paragraph.
  2. Compare your responses by clicking the "check" button.
11–20
         
       
 

anxiety (n.) — the feeling of being very worried about something
depression (n.) — a medical condition that makes you very unhappy and anxious and often prevents you from living a normal life
self-esteem (n.) — the feeling of being satisfied with your own abilities, and that you deserve to be liked or respected