In the following sentence, is the word 'cowardly' an adjective or adverb?

He acted in a cowardly manner.

What I understand is the word cowardly is modifying the verb act. So it should be an adverb. But in the phrase a cowardly manner, the word is used in an adjective or pre-modifier place.

Am I missing something?

  • 2
    I'd say it's an adjective modifying the noun "manner". Just because it has an -ly suffix doesn't mean it's an adverb.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jul 6, 2020 at 7:09

1 Answer 1


He acted in a cowardly manner.

"Cowardly" here is an adjective.

We usually have the structure a + adj + noun, which is the case here.

The base noun of "cowardly" is "coward", which means "a person who's not brave and is too eager to avoid danger".

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