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Hello everybody,

I have a question about a point of English grammar that I have trouble grasping; maybe you specialists could enlighten me.

With certain intransitive verbs, one can form a sentence with either an adjective or an adverb. For example:

The sun shines bright in the sky.
The sun shines brightly in the sky.

or the well known

Hope springs eternal.
Hope springs eternally.

Grammatically, I understand using the adjective instead of the adverb makes the verb transitive, but what I don't quite understand is the difference it makes in the meaning of the sentence, if there is any difference.

I elicit to use this or that form in sentences I say every day because it "feels" more correct, or less awkward, but I'd really like to know formally what form to use and why instead of relying on gut feelings.

Thank you in advance!
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Comments  (Page 2) 
AnonymousWith certain intransitive verbs, one can form a sentence with either an adjective or an adverb.
This post might interest you as well.

Adverb or Adjective

CJ
Alienvoord but if you can't replace it with an "-ly" adverb, then it's presumably an adjective and a linking verb
He's acting silly

*He's acting sadly

I feel bright

*I feel brightly I trust you'll take this in the spirit in which it's intended. My memory is refreshed of a "breakable" 78 rpm disc dating from the previous great depression. One verse ends: But in the mountain tops, far from the eyes of cops, / Oh how the moon shines on the moonshine, so sillily - oh, oh for words!

(obvious nonsense)
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AvangiI trust you'll take this in the spirit in which it's intended.  My memory is refreshed of a "breakable" 78 rpm disc dating from the previous great depression.  One verse ends: But in the mountain tops, far from the eyes of cops, /  Oh how the moon shines on the moonshine, so sillily   -   oh, oh for words!

That's awesome! And shine is not a linking verb, so it follows. And look:

1740-1 RICHARDSONPamela I. xxiv. 67 He sat down, and look'd at me, and..as sillily as such a poor Girl as I.

1864 BROWNING Dram. Pers. Wks. 1896 I. 573/2, I took your arm And sillily smiled.


AvangiThanks for joining us, Giraut. Welcome to English Forums!
Thanks. I'm real glad I found this forum (or realLY glad, seems a-propos Emotion: wink)
Avangi Alienvoord's post and your reply seem to leave us in limbo. There's no question that "He hit the ball hard" describes the action more than it describes the actor. But we surely don't want to accuse him of "hardly hitting the ball" !
I don't think it applies here, as "hardly" doesn't mean "in a hard way" in the second context, and I doubt saying "He hit the ball hardly" to mean "hard" is acceptable - if it is, it sounds if not hypercorrect, at least stuffy.
I don't see how Alienvoord's post leave you in limbo though: the link he posted to the M-W satisfies my own curiosity fully. I didn't know the formal concept of "flat adverbs" in English, although in retrospect, I realize I know how and when to use them of course, like all english speakers, I just didn't know why. In the light of this, my original question creates problems where there aren't any. The examples that troubled me all use adverbs, it's just that some adverbs look like adjectives.
AvangiCalling these "shortened adverbs" adjectives does appear to have it's limitations. I think more needs to be said on this subject. At the very least, it seems fair to say that some of them act adjectivally and some continue to function as adverbs. (How about the passive? "The ball was hit hard." We have to admit that transitive verbs sometimes get into this act.)
Unless I'm missing something subtle (which is entirely possible since I'm not a native english speaker), the flat-adverb explanation makes perfect sense to me, and the declining use of them in modern english explains quite nicely why quotes from authors of the past seem strange today.
If there is a shift of meaning when choosing to use "bright" instead of "brightly" or vice-versa, I would love to know however.
Sometimes we start out with examples which push us in one direction. Then a new set of examples push(es) us in another. I'm not ready to close the book on this.

Amy is usually right on in these matters, although it was coincidental that we both chose the "copular verb" approach. Obviously, neither that nor the "flat adverb" approach suits all cases.

I was just kidding about "hardly hitting the ball," BTW. Sorry about that!

Edit. Did you have a chance to look at the post which CJ referenced?
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Hi all

I think it worth mentioning that so-called "copular verbs" are verbs that can be or often are used as as linking verbs. That does not mean that they are used exclusively as linking verbs.

1. The soup tasted good.
2. I tasted the soup frequently before serving it.

Clearly sentence 1 links the adjective to the subject, whereas sentence 2 describes an activity.

I also don't think that the concept of a "flat adverb" is necessarily in conflict with the ideas in my first post.
Finally, words such as "hard" and "fast" are always used as both adjective and adverb in modern English, so those are irrelevant in this discussion IMHO.
AvangiSometimes we start out with examples which push us in one direction. Then a new set of examples push(es) us in another. I'm not ready to close the book on this. Amy is usually right on in these matters, although it was coincidental that we both chose the "copular verb" approach. Obviously, neither that nor the "flat adverb" approach suits all cases.
To be honest, I couldn't pass as a grammarian if my life depended on it. I don't know how to express this, but my interest in a language doesn't lie so much in the strict application of rules as in "tasting" or "feeling" intimately the true meaning of an expression. This is why I wondered whether "the sun shines bright" and "the sun shines brightly" mean exactly the same thing or not, and if so, how to pick one form or the other, essentially to have a new English language toy to play with.

I must admit the flat adverbs explanation looks to me much more logical and less far-fetched than what I originally thought was a adverb/adjective distinction, with the verb becoming copular and meaning something else.

The Cambridge Grammar of English doesn't say anything about a shift of meaning between sentences with adjectives and adverbs of similar meaning. The Oxford Practical English Usage however has 2 pages of explanation on different forms of adverbs, including including a list of adverbs that change profoundly the meaning of their corresponding adjectives, but nothing like bright/brightly.
AvangiI was just kidding about "hardly hitting the ball," BTW. Sorry about that!
Indeed, that one went right over my head Emotion: wink
AvangiEdit. Did you have a chance to look at the post which CJ referenced?

Yes: the mind boggles doesn't it? Who said English was simple Emotion: smile
Giraut "tasting" or "feeling" intimately the true meaning of an expression. This is why I wondered whether "the sun shines bright" and "the sun shines brightly" mean exactly the same thing or not, and if so, how to pick one form or the other,
I've noticed this recurring theme and have been conveniently ducking it. I don't know of any help that's available. Perhaps someone else does. The task of organizing such information seems daunting, but or course there are those who thrive on daunting tasks. I'd have to take it on a case-by-case basis. From what I've seen thus far, generalizations don't work well in this area.
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Unless I haven't been paying attention, we've missed another category of (adj./adv.)'s.

Words like "doubtless" look deceptively like adjectives. The doubtless man stepped cheerfully off the roof and into space. The hapless man fell off the roof.

Neither "doubtless" nor "doubtlessly" ever functions as an adjective (I think), but either one may be substituted for the adverb "undoubtedly."

I had been thinking that "flat adverbs" typically enjoyed a dual role, serving also as adjectives.

I couldn't resist copying this humerous bit from Alienvoord's M-W link:

flat adverbs A flat adverb is an adverb that has the same form as its related adjective: . . .

Flat adverbs were more abundant and used in greater variety formerly than they are now. They were used then as ordinary adverbs and as intensifiers:

. . . commanding him incontinent to avoid out of his realm and to make no war - Lord Berners, translation of Froissart's Chronicles, 1523 I wish I had such authority!

. . . I was horrid angry, and would not go - Samuel Pepys, diary, 29 May 1667

Well, I guess I'm wrong again! "Doubtless" can be used as an adjective: "The doubtless victory . . . " Never heard it. Sorry.
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