February 14, 2008

Adverbs for my love

A beautiful Valentine's Day to all our readers. For my philosopher partner I managed to find a card which had the words passionately, devotedly, fervently, completely, utterly, and absolutely on the front (with the first person singular pronoun as subject and adore you as the predicate). It seemed ideal. When a grammarian loves you, you should expect adverbs. Lots and lots of adverbs.

Adverbs do have enemies; Stephen King has said (in his On Writing) that "the road to hell is paved with adverbs", and his hostility to them follows in a long tradition. A long tradition of pontificating fools who should shut up and write rather than telling us how (nearly all of them unwittingly use adverbs in the very paragraphs in which they condemn them; on this, see chapter 2 of Ben Yagoda's lovely little book If You Catch An Adjective, Kill It, published in 2006). There were adverbs, daffodils, morning tea, and breakfast in bed this morning. And a kiss, of course. When a grammarian kisses you, you stay kissed.

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at February 14, 2008 07:18 AM