Can ‘I tickled his foot excitedly’ mean I tickled his foot so I made him excited? I want to use ‘interestedly’ instead of ‘interestingly.’

  • Adverbs beg the question: "How did I tickle his foot?
    – Lambie
    May 16, 2021 at 22:36
  • 2
    interestedly is barely "English", so you should probably forget that one. In your context, the two possible adverbial forms are 1) excitedly (the tickler was excited), and 2) excitingly (the person being tickled became excited). May 17, 2021 at 17:15
  • Compare He watched her irritatedly (he was irritated while he watched her), and He watched her irritatingly (she was irritated by him watching her). May 17, 2021 at 17:21
  • It seems to me that with OP's excitedly / excitingly and my own irritatedly / irritatingly, both the adverbial forms definitely modify the relevant verb (tickled or watched). The difference is in how they modify it (in the past participle-based forms, it's the agent / subject who's excited / irritated, whereas with the continuous participle-based forms, it's the patient / object who experiences those emotions). May 18, 2021 at 13:11

2 Answers 2


No, it can't.

The adverb "excitedly" modifies the verb "tickled." Since the subject "I" is who is performing the action, it describes the manner in which the subject "I" performs the action. It certainly doesn't describe the manner in which the owner of the foot responded since the owner of the foot isn't even in the sentence at all, the direct object of the verb being "his foot," not him.

To be clear, if the adverb were to modify how the direct object of the verb responded to the verb's action, it would be the direct object "his foot" being excited, not this him (the owner of "his foot") you refer to in your question but who doesn't actually appear in the sentence itself, just "his foot."

  • 1
    Then, is ‘excitingly’ proper?
    – user136014
    May 16, 2021 at 22:44
  • @Benjamin your last part of the answer is not clear. And in the second paragraph, you mentioned that the owner of the foot is not at all mentioned, I think when the sentence says "his foot", I think the mention is explicitly made. Anyway that is questionable and doubtful, so let's not get there. But please clarify your last paragraph. My point is you said "excitedly" modifies "his foot" (which i believe is wrong) in the last paragraph, but in the previous paragraph you said it modifies "I". May 17, 2021 at 2:05
  • "I tickled him excitedly" does it mean the direct object is responding to "tickling" excitedly? May 17, 2021 at 2:13
  • @Man_From_India - Well, if it's not clear to you, I'm glad you asked 👍. No, I didn't say in the second paragraph that the adverb "excitedly" modifies "his foot." What I said was "if the adverb were to modify how the direct object of the verb responded to the verb's action." I was speaking hypothetically for the sake of discussion to clarify that even if the adverb "excitedly" did, which, again, it doesn't, it would only modify how the direct object "his foot" responded, not modify the direct object "his foot" and definitely not modify the nonexistent object "him." May 17, 2021 at 5:19
  • @Man_From_India - I do appreciate how you may think it saying "his foot" is the foot's owner appearing in the sentence. While it's a mistake to think so, it's an extremely common mistake, one that leads to extremely common grammatical errors, like dangling participles. Now, were "his foot" a synecdoche there, you'd have a leg to stand on, as it were, but it's clearly not. I am truly glad you brought this up, though, since it's such a common mistake to infer that an object modified by a possessive pronoun insinuates that possessive pronoun's antecedent as being the object instead. 👍 May 17, 2021 at 5:19

"Excitedly" is an adverb, modifying tickled. Tickling might be done quickly or slowly, roughly or gently, but not excitedly. Excitedly is how one behaves, not how one makes someone else behave. E.G., "I waited excitedly for his return."

As for ‘interestedly’ instead of ‘interestingly,’ where would you use them? Both are valid adverbs, but certainly not for toe tickling.

  • I just made a sentence to use ‘-edly.’
    – user136014
    May 16, 2021 at 22:20