eg. He ate the cake quickly, In this sentence 'quickly' modifies 'ate' but they are not close to each other.

  • 1
    Can you give us the source of this statement? As it stands it is useless and misleading as a guide to the placement of adverbs.
    – Shoe
    Sep 18, 2020 at 10:35
  • @Shoe grammarly.com/blog/adverb 'placement of adverb'
    – ketan pendharkar
    Sep 18, 2020 at 10:38
  • 1
    Thanks. After the sentence you cite in your question, Grammarly says: When an adverb is modifying a verb phrase, the most natural place for the adverb is usually the middle of the phrase. If Grammarly replaces the most natural place with the typical place, then we have a more useful statement. But quickly can also start or end the example sentence, depending on what the writer wants to emphasise.
    – Shoe
    Sep 18, 2020 at 10:56
  • 1
    The words are close. They are not next to each other, but the problem with distant adverbs tends to be more, "He ate the cake, which was chocolate with strawberry frosting and chocolate chips, and made by his favorite bakery, down the street, quickly." where you can't easily tell which word the adverb modifies.
    – Mary
    Sep 18, 2020 at 12:59
  • It is close. "Quickly" modifies the VP "ate the cake". It's fine where you have it, and it's equally fine in front position too, as in "We quickly ate the cake". But it's not OK in the middle, as *"We ate quickly the cake" because adverbs should not separate a verb and its object.
    – BillJ
    Sep 18, 2020 at 13:37

1 Answer 1


The adverb is close in that sentence. It is not immediately after, but in warnings against putting adverbs far from the word that they modify, the intent is to warn against lack of clarity, because the adverb can not be connected to the proper word by the reader.

Far means something more like

He ate the cake, which was chocolate with strawberry frosting and chocolate chips rather than the usual vanilla frosting with candy hearts, because it was made by his favorite bakery, down the street, quickly.

  • Yes, but "quickly" modifies the VP "ate the cake", so the adverb is in fact immediately adjacent to the item it modifies.
    – BillJ
    Sep 19, 2020 at 7:07
  • No, the verbal phrase is in fact "ate the cake quickly", consisting of the verb, its object, and the adverb that modifies it.
    – Mary
    Sep 19, 2020 at 14:09
  • What? Of course that's the full VP; that's obvious. But when we show the phrase that is being modified, we show it without its modifier. As I said, the adverb is immediately adjacent to the phrase it modifies.
    – BillJ
    Sep 19, 2020 at 14:17
  • No, "quickly" is not modifying the verbal phrase. We can tell by the way that by your logic, the sentence I have is putting the adverb next to the verbal phrase and is therefore equally correct.
    – Mary
    Sep 19, 2020 at 14:23
  • The VP in full is "ate the cake quickly", with "ate" as predicator, "the cake" as Od, and "quickly" as adjunct.
    – BillJ
    Sep 19, 2020 at 14:32

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