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Which option fits best for the followings sentence:

The.........rising numbers of those out of work are adding greatly to the government's problems.

  1. High
  2. Hard
  3. Steeply
  4. Promptly

This question also prompted another related question in my mind about a general grammar guides.

As we know, the word rising is an adjective. I'd like to ask if it is grammatically correct to use another adjective before a gerund + noun phrase.

  1. Rapid rising prices caused chaos.

  2. Rapid developing countries..

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  • I don't think there is any rule regarding this. For instance, we say: It was wonderful seeing you again yesterday and It is wonderful to see you again. Both, in my opinion, are correct.
    – Usernew
    Oct 19, 2015 at 13:53
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    You can use an adjective if it also modifies the noun, but you must use an adverb if you are modifying the gerund. I would use "rapidly" in each of the last two examples. The prices aren't rapid; they are rising rapidly. The countries aren't rapid; they are developing rapidly.
    – chepner
    Oct 19, 2015 at 14:23

1 Answer 1

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Sometimes verbs can turn into adjectives by adding -ing. These are called participles. In this example, rising is a type of adjective called a participle.

Adjectives modify nouns (see these links). Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs (see this). High and hard are adjectives, so they cannot modify the participle (adjective) rising.

From the OED, promptly has these definitions:

  1. With little or no delay; immediately
  2. At exactly a specified time; punctually

The context of the sentence suggests that the problem is worsening over time, and the sentence does not refer to a specific time or instance. So, promptly does not fit the sentence.

The only remaining choice is steeply. Steeply is an adverb, and it can be applied to an ongoing situation.

The steeply rising numbers of those out of work are adding greatly to the government's problems.

In the second example, rapid is an adjective, so it cannot modify rising or developing. Adding -ly turns it into an adverb, and adverbs can modify adjectives. So, rapidly can modify rising or developing. Both of these are correct:

Rapidly rising prices caused chaos.

Rapidly developing countries...

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