English "-ly" adverbs: From subject orientation to conversion

Thumbnail Image





Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Adam Mickiewicz University

Title alternative


Unlike subject-orientation in English ‘-ly’ adverbs, subject-relatedness does not conflate two syntactic functions in one and the same form: subject-related ‘-ly’ adverbs are predicative elements in the clause and do not function as adverbials. Therefore, the morphological make-up of subject-related ‘-ly’ adverbs does not match the syntactic function and the categorial meaning usually associated with the adverbial suffix ‘-ly’. In subject-relatedness, the association of the predicative function with the ‘-ly’ suffix differs from that of the well-known set of ‘-ly’ adjectives where the suffix is the present-day form of Old English ‘-līc’. Subject-relatedness raises the question of how these ‘-ly’ adverbs should be classified and the implications of this classification on their place in the system of word-classes. Specifically, it raises the question of the place of this morphological, syntactic and semantic behaviour with respect to word-class membership. In this respect, the paper explores the interpretation of subject-related ‘-ly’ words in frameworks where adjectives and adverbs are considered one and the same word-class and also where they are considered separate ones. The interpretation of subject-related ‘-ly’ words as belonging to the categorial space between adjective and adverb is relevant especially in respect of the morphosyntactic processes described in the literature for similar cases: although the profile of subject-related ‘-ly’ words appears to meet the conditions of conversion, they do not become lexicalized, as in lexical conversion, and cannot be traced back to a syntactic process, as in syntactic conversion.



This paper was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (research project FFI2012-39688).


subject orientation, subject-relatedness, conversion, ‘-ly’ adverbs


Studia Anglica Posnaniensia, 2014 vol. 49.1, pp. 77-102



Title Alternative

Rights Creative Commons

Creative Commons License

Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego