Dumbledore gave his wand a little flick as if he was trying to get a fly off the end and a long golden ribbon flew out of it, which rose high above the tables and twisted itself snake-like into words.

From Harry Potter

If it's an adjective, should it be "in a snake-like way"? Why does an adjective came out out of the blue?


1 Answer 1


You're right, it's an adverb because it is describing the manner of the main verb, 'twisted'. The ribbon [noun] twisted [verb] in a 'snake-like' manner.

There's normally no need to qualify an adverb by saying something like "in an [x] way/manner". When you recognise an adverb and the verb it modifies it is normally clear what kind of adverb it is (of degree, frequency, manner etc).

An alternative way to describe this twisting action would have been to use 'snake' as a verb (eg "the ribbon snaked into the air").

  • Why can't it be an adjective referring to "itself" (i.e. "a long golden ribbon")?
    – BillJ
    Commented Jan 20 at 10:23
  • @BillJ Adjectives describe nouns, adverbs describe verbs. Twisted, in this context, is a verb - it is the action of the ribbon magically turning in the air. The ribbon itself isn't 'snake-like', otherwise it would say "the golden, snake-like ribbon twisted into the air". It is the action; the way it moves, which is why the adverb only appears after it begins to move.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Jan 20 at 17:30
  • So, in, for example "The thieves left empty-handed" and "They served the coffee blindfolded", how would you treat "empty-handed" and "blindfolded"?
    – BillJ
    Commented Jan 21 at 8:24
  • @BillJ Strawman. You tell me how a golden ribbon is like a snake while stationary.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Jan 21 at 9:07
  • Just answer my question. Are "empty-handed" and "blindfolded" adverbs, or what?
    – BillJ
    Commented Jan 21 at 9:10

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