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Does in bulk modify buy as in we buy loads of toilet paper or does it elaborate on the number of toilet papers we buy? Is one way of seeing it less wrong than the other?

Based on my intuition, I am leaning towards 'in bulk' behaving as an adverb, but to explain it in analytical terms I cannot.

What metric does one use to accurately the grammatical function of such words, or words/phrases in general?

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In your sentence, "in bulk" is a sentence adverb. It could also function as an adjective, for example, in "The next item on the list is toilet paper in bulk."

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In bulk is an adverbial phrase modifying buy. It doesn't specify a number of items, just that you buy a lot, usually to get them more cheaply.

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