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Selections from Alice in Wonderland # 1
Analysis Key with a Focus on the Logic of Adverbs

     These sentences were suggested by Stephanie McGuirk in response to a KISS-List request for more exercises on adverbs. In looking at them, I realized that they can be used for several different objectives. First, of course, students can simply be asked to identify the adverbs in the passage and, ideally, draw a line to the word or phrase that each modifies.
     This first objective leads into the second. In a sentence such as "She was close behind it," the word close can be considered as an adverb that modifies "behind it," and "behind it" can be explained as a predicate adjective. Textbooks rarely explain that adverbs can modify phrases (and/or subordinate clauses). Our example, however, also illustrates another rarely discussed principle, a principle that is well illustrated by these sentences, alternative explanations
     Thus a third objective might be to focus on alternatives. In "She was close behind it," "close" can be explained as the predicate adverb, and the prepositional phrase can be explained as modifying "close." In addition, some people will see "behind it" as a predicate adjective," while others see it as an adverb to "was." The notes (below) explain a number of possible alternative explanations, and there are probably more in these sentences.
     Still another objective for using this passage might be the logic of adverbs and adverbial phrases. As the notes below indicate, most of the adverbs and adverbial prepositional phrases in these sentences express logical relationships of time, space (place), degree, and manner. The logic expressed through syntax can be an important focus of KISS. Currently, most of the instructional material on that involves clauses, but it may be a good idea to introduce younger students to the importance of adding details of space, time, degree, and manner into their own writing by using adverbs and adverbial prepositional phrases. [For more on the KISS Approach to Logic, click here.]
     Note, by the way, that as with the question of what words and phrases modify, not everyone is going to agree about the logical implications of every adverb and prepositional phrase. Total agreement should not be our objective. Indeed, our objective should be just the opposite. In exploring questions such as these, students will discover for themselves that most, if not all people do in fact agree about the logical implications of many words or phrases. But it is also important, perhaps even more important, that students discover that not everyone always agrees. The grammar textbooks usually suggest that there is always one "right" answer. The idea that there is always one such right answer may be, for both students and teachers, one of the most frustrating things about studying grammar. (Those "right" answers do not always make sense to them.) 
     Some of the notes below are identical to those on the primary analysis key for these sentences. I have simply copied them here for those people who want to print this document instead of following links on-line.

     For, you see, so [of Degree to "many"] many out-of-the-way things had happened

lately [of Time to "had happened"] that Alice had begun to think (DO) that very [of

Degree to "few"] few things indeed [#1] were really [#2] impossible (PA).

     {Before her} [of Place to "was"] was another long passage, and the White Rabbit

was still [of Time to "was"] {in sight} [of Place to "was"], hurrying {down it} [of Place to

"hurrying"]. There was not [#3] a moment (PA) to be lost: away [of Place to "went"]

went Alice {like the wind} [#4] , and was just [of Degree to "in time"] {in time} [#5] to

hear it say, as it turned a corner (DO), "Oh [Inj], my ears and whiskers, how [of

Degree to "late] late [#6] it's getting!" She was close [#7] {behind it} [of Place to "close"]

when she turned the corner (DO), but the Rabbit was no [of Negation to "longer"]

longer [of Time to "to be seen"] to be seen.

     Soon [of Time to "fell"] her eye fell {on a little glass box} [of Place to "fell"] that was

lying {under the table} [of Place to "was lying"]: she opened it (DO), and found {in

it} [of Place to "found"] a very [of Degree to "small"] small cake (DO), {on which} [of

Place to "were marked"] the words "EAT ME (DO)" were beautifully [of Manner

{How?) to "were marked"] marked {in currants} [of Manner (How?) to "were marked"].

     She ate a little bit [NuA], and said anxiously [of Manner (How?) to "said"] {to herself}

[#8], "Which way? Which way?" (DO) holding her hand {on the top} [of Place to

"holding"] {of her head} [Adj. to "top"] to feel which way [NuA] it was growing, and

she was quite [of Degree to "surprised"] surprised (P) to find that she remained the

same size [#9]: to be sure, this is generally [of Degree to "is"] what happens when

one eats cake (DO), but Alice had got so [of Degree to "much"] much [of Degree

to "had got"] {into the way} [of Place [#10] to "had got"] {of expecting nothing} [Adj. to

"way"] {but out-of-the-way things} [Adj. to "nothing"] to happen, that it seemed

quite [of Degree [#11]] dull (PA) and stupid (PA) for life to go on {in the common

way} [of Manner  to "go on"] .

      So [of Result to "set"] she set to work, and very [of Degree to "soon"] soon [of Time

to "finished"] finished off the cake (DO).

1. Although "indeed" can be considered an adverb here, it probably has more of the force of an interjection.
2. If forced to choose, some people will see "really" as modifying "were," and others will see it as modifying "impossible."
3. "Not" is almost always an adverb. Here it can be explained as negating "was" or "a" or both. People who see it as modifying "was" will see it as part of the verb phrase, and those who opt for "a" will see it as part of the noun phrase "not a moment."
4. Some people will see the "like the wind" phrase as adverbial to "went," whereas others will see it as describing Alice.
5. This "in time" phrase can be explained as an adverb to "was," but some people will see it functioning as a predicate adjective to "Alice."
6. Some grammarians will probably consider "late" to be an adverb, and others will claim that it
functions as a predicate adjective. Although I incline toward the predicate adjective, I certainly
would not tell a student who sees it as an adverb that she or he is wrong.
7. See the previous note. Note also that "close" can also be considered an adverb to the following "behind it," and "behind it" can be considered as an adverb of place to "was."
8.  The phrase "to herself" could be considered an adverb to "said," but it also clearly functions as
an indirect object.
9. "The same size" states how, more than it does what she remained. Thus I would consider "size"
to be a noun used as an adverb. [This is another of those questions about which grammarians will
probably disagree. Some might consider it to be a direct object, but I'd suggest that the question
itself is not that important, so I would accept either answer.
10. This is, of course, a figurative sense of space, but we use spatial terms figuratively all the time. (Think of the political "left" and "right.")
11. Some people will see this "quite" as modifying "seemed," and others will see it as modifying the predicate adjectives "dull" and "stupid."