It rained the whole week except on Sunday.

In this question is the word 'whole' an adverb? Or since the word 'week' is a noun, will it become a determiner?

4 Answers 4


Since whole modifies the noun week, it is an adjective (but see below about determiners). Here are other sentences with an adjective modifying week:

It rained all of last week except on Sunday.

It rained twice during that unpleasant week.

Adverbs modify anything other than a noun: a verb, an adjective, a preposition, another adverb, or a whole clause or sentence.

A determiner is an adjective that specifies something about which instance or instances the noun refers to: a new instance not previously talked about (as indicated by a), an instance previously talked about (as indicated by the), the number of instances, the concept in general rather than any specific instance, etc. In your sentence, whole specifies how much of the instance is referred to, so it's usually considered a determiner.

Some people don't count determiners as adjectives. I don't think it matters as long as you understand the difference between specifying which instance of the noun (as in "last week", "the whole week", and "that unpleasant week") and providing additional information about the instance ("that unpleasant week"). If you're asking in preparation for taking an exam, though, you should find out whether the author of the exam counts determiners as adjectives or not. If you're not sure, then bet that they consider them separate parts of speech.

  • Doesn't adverb answer questions on duration - how long?
    – sailaja
    Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 4:51
  • @sailaja Yes, indicating duration is one function of adverbs. In your sentence, the whole week is a noun phrase that functions as an adverb. Here is another answer about this special use of nouns as adverbs to indicate duration.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 14:54

It rained the whole(entire) week except on Sunday

In the sentence whole modifies week which is a noun. So it is a an Adjective. It is not an adverb.An adverb usually does not modify a noun or a pronoun.It may modify a noun phrase or sometimes a whole sentence.

  • 1
    Believe it or not, there are one or two examples of an adverb modifying a noun, and of course adverbs can modify noun phrases.
    – BillJ
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 15:30
  • @BillJ.I believe you and have modified my answer. Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 15:38

Yes it can be an adverb - just not in your example sentence.

An adverb is a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb. In your example, it is modifying the noun "week".

For it to be an adverb, there would need to be another adjective or verb used, for example:

  • It's a whole new ballgame.
  • That's a whole other story.
  • 1
    I'm inclined to say that "whole" is modifying not the adjectives but the whole NPs and is thus an adjective.
    – BillJ
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 15:26
  • I agree with you, @BillJ, but nonetheless "whole" can be an adverb - see the example in my answer.
    – user131144
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 23:41

The word "whole" is certainly used as an adverb. However, there are situations that this word is not acceptable as an adverb.

  • "Whole" as an adverb? Surely not.
    – BillJ
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 16:41
  • 2
    @BillJ At least one dictionary lists adverb forms, e.g. "swallow something whole." However, this answer suggests, without any explanation or examples, that it's commonly an adverb, and I think that's wrong.
    – TypeIA
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 17:20
  • @TypeIA In "He swallowed the pie whole", I'd say that "whole" is an adjective functioning as an object complement referring to "pie".
    – BillJ
    Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 6:33

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