While answering to this question here, very interesting discussion took place with CopperKettle.

It's absolutely right that adverbs modify many things, but nouns/pronouns.

But then, expressions such as...

Almost everyone would agree to this...


Hardly anyone would do that...

are quite common.

What do natives say about this? Are there any special cases wherein adverbs modify nouns/pronouns?

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    Prof. John Lawler once said (on ELU), "if you don't know what the hell it's doing there, call it an adverb", with this hint "'adverb' is the traditional wastebasket category". Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 12:04
  • An adverb can modify indefinite pronouns. almost, hardly, nearly are examples of such adverbs which can modify pronouns. Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 15:47
  • I think there is a presumption that almost (and other words like hardly) is always an adverb, I guess because that's how practically all dictionaries list it, however it is clearly used as an adjective and preposition as well. See: english.stackexchange.com/questions/517410/… Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 3:34

3 Answers 3


Many people say that by definition a word that modifies a noun or a pronoun is an adjective, which is why there's an ample debate on the subject among English native speakers. Some argue that since an adverb modifies a noun or a pronoun it automatically becomes an adjective.

Yet, others assert that adverbs can modify pronouns:

Definition of an adverb modifying a pronoun:

An adverb which precedes a pronoun and modifies the pronoun.

Examples of adverbs modifying pronouns:

adverb (bold), pronoun (italicized)

Almost everybody came in the end. Note: almost; nearly; hardly; about, etc., can be used in this way

And others agree that:

Sometimes adverbs modify pronouns: Almost everyone gave something. Nearly all of them came. Naturally, some will argue that these words are adjectives. Of course, they function as adjectives in these sentences. Yet they are quite unlike adjectives in other uses.

However, in my language it is unanimously accepted that an adverb, as a dependent and inflexible part of speech, always acts as a determiner to the: verb, verb phrase, adjective, another adverb, interjection, noun that denotes actions, states or properties, pronoun and numeral.

This said, I can't contradict any of the English native speakers but can only picture the way other people see the subject.


Very truly yours.
The influence is unquestionably hers.
This can't be exclusively mine.
The likeness is unmistakably his.

I'm going to put it in the nicest way possible on the chance it might help me to avoid further downvotes on this answer of mine, o ye cavemen ... I mean, nice generous people ...

I agree with the OP that adverbs can absolutely modify pronouns. There's absolutely no reason why they shouldn't.

The OP suggests I should put it in "a smarter way." Okay, here goes:

Harmony is very smart. Which is why it always takes precedence. Once it has established itself, being smart and all, a bunch of nerds rush in to make up some rules that profess to reflect this harmony, but it never really works. Harmony is pure. Rules are often stifling and oppressive. Nerds are hardly ever smart.

O Reader! Bruder! You're smart. You're not a nerd. Please don't down vote this answer! Smart people should stick together!

I'm not quite certain what this modifying business is all about, because I don't even know what an adverb or a pronoun is, and why should I, it's beneath me. But, being smart, I don't admit to it. I pretend it's not beneath me. As the poet said, I'm sufficiently proud about knowing something to be occasionally modest about my not knowing everything. Or something to that effect.

I'm also quite drunk right now. I have a nasty cold, but I'm smart, which is why I'm drinking good cognac instead of taking stupid disgusting pills. It may not be as healthy, but it sure as hell is a lot more enjoyable.

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    @MaulikV: Harmony comes first. Then nerds rush in and make rules that are supposed to reflect the harmony, but will oftentimes stifle it instead. I'm not quite certain what this modifying business is all about, but in my not so humble opinion, anything can modify anything.
    – Ricky
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 11:30
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    lol, it's not like that. You have a valid point, just to be put in a smarter way. Being a native, you must be better at it. My idea is to having this included in the answer.
    – Maulik V
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 11:35
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    "Anything can modify anything" belongs in the same pantheon as FumbleFingers' Perfect Truism. I christen it Ricky's Arrogance Principle. Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 13:24
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    OK I can remove the fluff from this answer and get to one single word without any harm to the content: "Yes". I think it would really pay if you mention why "*very people" is incorrect (in the quantification sense; the correct version being "many people") while "almost everyone" isn't. But then again, these must be beneath you so I guess just have a fun day.
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 19:12
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    I'm tempted to blow away about 75% of this answer in the name of removing fluff, but I'd appreciate it a great deal if you'd remove this temptation yourself. Maundering on about how drunk, smart, nerdy, or harmonious you or the reader may be just isn't relevant. Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 9:22

Yes, an adverb can modify a noun, according to wikipedia here and here.

An adverb is a word that modifies a verb, adjective, another adverb, determiner, noun phrase, clause, preposition, or sentence.


adnominal adverbs and adverbials, such as (over) there in the noun phrase the man (over) there

=== EDIT ===

However, other sources including external links on the latter article contradict it, and so does wikitionary. From the usage cases, however, it seems that such a usage is permitted.

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