Opinion Adverbs

Express truth or belief about a situation

climber
 

 

Opinion Adverbs vs. Modals Verbs

ADVERBS FOR OPINION

An adverb can be used to express what the speaker believes to be true about a situation.

Maybe, he will reach the top. (uncertain)  

He will definitely reach the top. (certain)

Possibly, he'll descend the same day. (certainty)

No doubt, he'll return before dark. (certainty, necessity)

He apparently has super-human strength.  (inference)
 

MODALS

A modal before the verb may be used to express a similar meaning.

He might reach the top of the mountain. (uncertain)

He will reach the top. (certain)

He may descend the same day. (uncertain)

He must return before dark. (necessity)

He must have super-human strength. (inference)

 

Also see Will / Might and Should/ Must 
Also known as Modal Adjuncts / Epistemic Stance Adverbials. See Grammar Notes.

 

 

 

 

 

Opinion Adverbs

Expressed as Prepositional Phrases

 

 

 

Opinion Adverbs vs. Prepositional Phrases

ADVERBS

Opinion adverbs (or prepositional phrases) express a wide range of opinion: certainty, reality, sources, limitations and precision of the situation.

CERTAINTY & DOUBT

Undoubtedly, he'll reach the top of the mountain.  (a sure guess)
certainly, decidedly, undoubtedly, definitely, most likely, very likely, quite likely, of course,
Perhaps, he'll reach the top of the mountain. 
probably, maybe, I guess, I think, I doubt, unlikely 

ACTUALITY AND REALITY

He actually climbed it by himself.  (factual, widely accepted)
Actually, he climbed it by himself. 
actually, truly,really,

VIEWPOINT OR PERSPECTIVE

Professionally, he's pretty amazing. (limiting it to my opinion)
officially, professionally, legally, morally, ethically, healthwise
 

SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE

Apparently, he climbed it in world-record time.  (second-hand information)
Younger climbers, reputedly, are less strategic climbers.
evidently, apparently, reportedly, reputedly

LIMITATION / GENRALIZATION

He mostly climbed it by himself.  (had some assistance)
Typically, younger climbers are stronger climbers.
mainly, typically, generally, largely 

IMPRECISION / APPROXIMATION

Rougly, he climbed it in four hours.  (about) 
about, roughly, so to speak, kind of, sort of

PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES

An adverb expressing opinion regarding the truth value of the situation may occur with an -ly suffix, in prepositional phrase or as both (truthfully, in truth). 

CERTAINTY & DOUBT

Without a doubt, he'll reach the top of the mountain.  (a sure guess) certainly, decidedly, undoubtedly, definitely, most likely, very likely, quite likely, of course,
With luck, he'll reach the top of the mountain. 
With luck, without a doubt 

ACTUALITY AND REALITY

In fact, he climbed it by himself.  (factual, widely accepted)
In other words, he did what no one had done before. 
in fact, in actual fact, in truth 

VIEWPOINT OR PERSPECTIVE

From my view, he's pretty amazing. (limiting it to my opinion)
from my perspective, in my view, in my opinion,

SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE

According to them, younger climbers are less strategic climbers.
according to  X
 

LIMITATION / GENRALIZATION

For the most part, he climbed it by himself.  (had some assistance)
On the whole, younger climbers are stronger.
in most cases, in general, for the most part, on the whole 

IMPRECISION / APPROXIMATION

In a way, he had help from others.  He sort of cheated by taking a helicopter down. 
in a way,

 

(Biber 10.1.1 764 854) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opinion Adverb

List

 

 

 

Opinion Adverb List  (just a few)

CERTAINTY & DOUBT ACTUALITY & REALITY VIEWPOINT

assuredly / certainly

in fact

from my perspective

decidedly / definitely

really

in his view

necessarily / surely

actually

in our opinion

obviously / most likely

truly / truthfully / in truth

from a linguistic point of view

undoubtedly / undeniably

in actual fact

with respect to the law

very likely / probably

I mean

regarding the law

conceivably / maybe

that is to say

officially  (domain)

perhaps, possibly

in other words

economically

I guess / I doubt

 

legally / morally

unlikely

 

weatherwise (-wise adv)

expressing degree of certainty   

making things clear  

limiting the knowledge domain

 

 

 

Opinion Adverb List  (continued)

SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE LIMITATION (GENERALIZING) IMPRECISION

evidently

in most cases

about

apparently

mainly

around

reportedly

typically

roughly

reputedly

generally / in general

so to speak

according to X

largely

kind of

 

for the most part

sort of

 

on the whole

in a way

 

in part

 

mentioning second-hand knowledge 

generalizing

roughly speaking 

 

"softening and correcting" — I think, I feel, I guess, apparently, so to speak, more of less, well, really , I'm afraid, I suppose, rather, actually I mean (Swan 157.16)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opinion Adverb

Sentence Position

 

 

 

Initial vs. Mid-Sentence Position

INITIAL SENTENCE POSITION

Most opinion words can be place before the clause or sentence (separated by a comma.)  Prepositional phrases are usually placed before the clause.

In truth, we don't know how long the climb will take.

Actually, we don't know how long the climb will take. /
*Really, …   (?  sounds awkward)

Probably, the climb will take five hours.

In our opinion, the climb will take five hours.

In fact, the climb will take five hours.

In fact, the climb will take five hours.

*About, the climb will take five hours. (Use "Roughly, ")
 

MID SENTENCE POSITION

Words ending in -ly are usually placed after an auxiliary verb if there is one and before the main verb. Prepositional phrases are usually set off with commas if placed mid-sentence.

We truly don't know how long the climb will take.

We don't really know how long the climb will take. /
We don't know really how long the climb will take.

The climb will probably take five hours.

The climb, in our opinion, will take five hours.

The climb, in fact, will take five hours.

The climb will take five hours.

  They expect the climb to take about five hours.

 

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

Terms Used

 

 

 

Various Resources

QUIRK / BIBER HUDDLESTON / SWAN

Quirk, Randolph and Sidney Greenbaum. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (1989) refer to these words as style disjuncts: "Style disjuncts convey the speaker's comment on the style and form of what he is saying, defining in some way under what conditions he is speaking as the 'authority' for the utterance. (8.123-33)

style disjunct:
(a)  modality and manner (e.g.: truthfully bluntly, if I may say so)
(b)  respect (e.g.: in broad terms, personally)

content disjunct:
(a) degree of conditions for truth of content (e.g.: really, certainly, if he'd listened)
(b) value judgement of content (e.g.: understandably, wisely, to everyone's surprise)

 

Huddleston and Pullum, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language,  refer to these structures as clause adjuncts.  (Huddleston 765-7)

modal adjuncts  "Adverbs such as necessarily, probably, possibly, surely belong among the quite diverse set of forms expressing modal meaning…" 
a.) He can / may stay until six. 
b.) He possibly will stay until six.    (8 §16)

domain adjuncts "Adjuncts of this kind restrict the domain to which the rest of the clause applies…"
Economically, the country is in sharp decline.   (8 §15) 

Biber, et al. Longman Grammar Of Spoken And Written English, 1999, refer to these words as epistemic stance adverbs. (Biber 10.3)

Stance adverbs "have the primary function of commenting on the content or style of a clause…"  They fall into three categories:

epistemic — It was, definitely, a waste of time. (personal belief, "truth or value of the proposition, commenting on: certainty, reality, sources, limitations and precision of the proposition.")
attitude —  Fortunately, it was completed on time. (expresses the speaker's attitude tor ward of evaluation of the situation) 
style
—  Frankly, it was a waste of time. (commenting on the style or form of the utterance, clarifying  how the speaker is speaking, how the utterance should be understood)
 

Swan, Michael. Practical English Usage, 2009, refers to these words as discourse markers:showing one's attitude to what one is saying; making things clear; generalising
— No doubt,
he reached the top of the mountain. "showing one's attitude to what one is saying" (157.18)
— He actually reached the top of the mountain. "making things clear" (157.15)
— On the whole
, he had an easy climb up the mountain.  "generalizing" (157.12)
— Maybe
I'm right and maybe I'm wrong "certainty" (21.4)
 

 

Resources

 

 

 

 

 

Practice

A Personal Challenge

Mountain climber
 

 

Read the Context

Jack Shields is an extreme ice climber.  I guess he is the most adventurous person I know. He does about twenty-five to thirty climbs a year.  In fact, he is currently attempting to climb the Jungfrau in Interlaken, Switzerland. According to ice climbers, this is one of the most difficult mountain faces to climb. Apparently, that is why Jack wants to do it.  He might be able to climb the south face, but it is unlikely that he can climb the north face wall. 

In terms of the weather, the conditions should be perfect. There is a train that runs half-way up the mountain. But Jack doesn't plan to take it because that's sort of cheating. According to other climbers, the upper section is where most accidents occur. The view atop the Jungfrau on a clear day is undeniably one of the most beautiful in the world.

 

 

 

 

Add the opinion adverb or expression to the sentence.

  1. Edit the sentence in the textbox.
  2. Compare your edit with the feedback.

 

1.
Jack Shields is an extreme ice climber.  I guess he is the most adventurous person I know. 
ADD: probably  (mid-sentence position)


2.
He does about twenty-five to thirty climbs a year.
ADD: roughly speaking  (initial-sentence position)


3.
In fact, he is currently attempting to climb the Jungfrau in Interlaken, Switzerland
ADD: as a matter of fact (initial-sentence position)


4.
According to ice climbers, this is one of the most difficult mountain faces to climb. 
ADD: reportedly  (mid-sentence position)


5.
Apparently, that is why Jack wants to do it.  
ADD: obviously  (mid-sentence position)


6.
He might be able to climb the south face, but it is unlikely that he can climb the north face wall.
ADD: I doubt  (mid-sentence position)


7.
In terms of the weather, the conditions should be perfect. 
ADD: weatherwise  (final-sentence position)


8.
There is a train that runs half-way up the mountain. But Jack doesn't plan to take it because that's sort of cheating. (mid-sentence position)
ADD: in a way


9.
According to other climbers, the upper section is where most accidents occur.
ADD: evidently  (initial-sentence position)


10.
The view atop the Jungfrau on a clear day is undeniably one of the most beautiful in the world. 
ADD: without a doubt (initial-sentence position)


 

Wikipedia contributors. "Jungfrau." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 6 Jan. 2012. Web. 14 Jan. 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jungfrau#Climbing_routes

 

 

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