Here is a sentence:

I can barely see a foot in front of me in this fog.

As a standalone sentence, it can't be the answer to the question starting with "What can you..." since "a foot" here is a unit of the length of vision, and so the question it may be the answer to might be "How far can you see in this fog?" Would I be right saying that "barely" in this sentence modifies "can" whereas "a foot" modifies "to see"? If yes, does it mean that it plays the role of an adverb? But can a noun be an adverb? If yes, what type of adverb it is in the above sentence?

P.S. There's a related post on the role of "a foot" in a sentence, but it doesn't seem to meet with my request.

  • 2
    No, of course not, but it can be an adjunct. Noun and adverb are two different word categories (parts of speech), not functions like subject, modifier. complement etc. The NP "a foot in front of me" is direct object of "see". The adverb "barely" is an adjunct -- it modifies the verb phrase.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 19:02

1 Answer 1


Can a noun be an adverb?

A entire phrase can act as an adverb and the whole phrase "a foot in front of me" is doing that (answering how [one job of adverb] far can you see).

A single word cannot, though a lot functions as an adverb in colloquial English, as an example.

I walked a lot yesterday.

A lot of the time I wanted to just quit.

  • "A foot in front of me" is a noun phrase: it is the object of "see".
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 7:11

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