Many English nouns and noun phrases can be used as adverbs. They are called "adverbial objectives". From the standpoint of word order, an adverbial objective is put as if it were an objective of a verb, but actually it works as an adverbial modifier of the verb. This sort of constructs comes from an Old English grammar rule that allowed ti use accusative cases of nouns as adverbs. For example, let's take an Old English sentence "He eode ham"[=He went home]. From the view of current English the word "ham" [home] would be treated as an adverb but it was the accusative of the noun "ham" in Old English. In current English this sort of noun phrase uses is prominent especially in the case the noun phrases means "time/duration", "space/direction/distance", "measure/degree", "manner" and others.

[1.] Did you see him this morning?
[2.] What time shall we go?
[3.] She is thirty years old.
[4.] I'd like to start Wednesday, the first jury day. ["the first jury day" is appositive to "Wednesday"]
[5.] Please tell me what day you are free.
[6.] The parcel arrived last week.
[7.] They prayed all night in the cathedral.
[8.] They walked two hours.
Some other examples of noun phrases of this use:
every day, next week, next Monday, the day after tomorrow, one of these days, one day, any day in this week, etc.

[1.] Today I came a different way. ["Today" is a TIME ad. ob.]
[2.] Elms stood either side of the street.
[3.] Let's go some place.
[4.] He lives next door.
[5.] She'll come home soon.
[6.] Come this way, please!
[7.] We wandered north and north.
[8.] We walked ten miles.

[1.] She was thirty years old.
[2.] The bottles was about three quarters full.
[3.] They stood up together *** high in the sea.
[4.] He stands head and shoulders above his fellow.
[5.] Her skin was snow white.
[6.] It was pitch dark inside the room.
[7.] Stars are diamond bright and there is no dew.
[8.] The sea went mountains high.

[1.] I should not mind a bit.
[2.] She blamed herself no end.
[3.] She used to laugh a good/great deal.

[1.] Don't look at me that way.
[2.] He speaks good English
[3.] He came full speed.
[4.] He stood there sailor-fashon.
[5.] She run upstairs two steps at a time.
[6.] They walked barefoot.
[7.] Our ship sailed first thing in the morning.

Noun Couplets
[1.] Bind him hand and foot.
[2.] He smote them hip and thigh.
[3.] We all got to go sometime reason or no reason.
[4.] Let's fight tooth and nail.
[5.] They discussed the matter heart to heart.
Some other examples of couplets: day after day, year after year, face to face.

The Superlative and the Comparative
[1.] My father liked this hat the best.
[2.] He runs the faster.
[3.] She couldn't know which she liked the better.
[4.] I don't know whose eyes would be the widest open.

[1.] She visited the States twice a year.
[2.] He paid $ 20 a pair for my shoes.

To my guess, these collocations are so common that most of native speakers could acquire them even without knowing the concept of "adverbial objectives". And (therefore?) many of grammar books currently available don't mention this, and dictionaries give a definition to a noun used as an adverbial adverb as an adverb separately from the definition as a noun. As for the complex adverbial objectives, they are explained as simple idiomatic phrases without giving any grammatical explanation. Accordingly, in teaching English as a second language too, the concept of "adverbial objectives" is rarely taught at the beginner's stages in school at least in Japan. So many of English learners in Japan (including me) learned theses expressions one by one without knowing the mechanism why native speakers use nouns as adverbs. I sometimes feel it might be better to let students know the concept of "adverbial objectives" at an earlier stage of English learning and it could be helpful for them to learn this kind of noun usage more efficiently. But I'm not sure. I would like to hear opinions from English teachers (especially those who teach English to ESL students) about this.

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Comments  (Page 2) 
As to the sentence what's the matter...?

If you say "what's the matter", it wouldn't matter to you. It matters to me.

Yes, you're right, I'd better wind up by this.
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I'd better wind up by this.

Hurm ... that's a pity. As you said "I have a little question before I go into your question", I have expected to hear some opinion of your own in detail.


Many, perhaps most, ESL students learn "intuitively". Repeat, repeat, repeat. Memorize, memorize memorize. Try the best you can at any point to communicate what you want to say.

Not only are "advervial objectives" irrelevant to such learners, but so are "nouns" and "verbs" to some extent. All of this terminological machinery is used to talk about language, not to use language.

Very few learners inquire into the structure of language as deeply as you. I'm afraid you are an exception. Because you are so exceptional in this way, let's not assume that what would have helped you in learning English is necessarily what would help the "average" learner!

Like you, I find discussions of such ideas as "adverbial objectives" quite interesting and informative. But with ESL students, especially at the beginning levels, I'm afraid I would worry that such discussions would be more likely to impede progress than to enhance it! Emotion: smile

Hello Jim

Thank you for the comment. I really appreciate your kindness. I'm not sure I am exceptional but it is true my brain doesn't fit to learning languages. When I was in school, I liked mathematics very much but not English. In those days I believed there should be some rule common with other things behind anything in the world. So even in English class, I asked my teacher the reason why English people say so when I was taught some new phrase I couldn't reasonably accept with my language senses (that had cultivated mostly through the Japanese language, though). I believe I was a student really hated my English teachers. As you said, memorizing through repeated practice would be the best way to learn a language as far as the learner has still a brain flexible enough to accept anything without trying to understand it through reasons, but I wonder if that kind of language education could be applicable to the people who are already grown up enough to view things through the knowledge they have already acquired.

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I wonder if that kind of language education could be applicable to the people who are already grown up enough to view things through the knowledge they have already acquired.

I often wonder the same thing! Yet I've come to believe that learning to use a (foreign) language is often a matter of submitting to the irrational. Emotion: smile
thank i got a test thursday on this. u saved me
I am an English grammar instructor. Your explanation is excellent as is your reference to the history of the form. However, you have a few errors technically in your examples. Although my Japanese is not strong, I had the pleasure of studying with a Japanese friend who teaches Japanese to American businessmen. We therefore explored both languages from the grammar of each. I hope my corrections can be of benefit for you and perhaps you can share with me the structure in Japanese which accomplishes the same point. I thank you for your lovely explanation as it has helped me to clarify my instruction to my students.

In English we rarely refer to noun phrases. We break them down further and therefore the example She is thirty years old would be analyzed by my students as follows: thirty modifies (describes) years, and is called an adverbial objective modifier, and its part of speech is an adjective. The word years is used as an adverbial objective and its part of speech is a noun. The whole phrase is used to modify 'is'. That is what you were saying, but we do not include the modifiers as part of the noun. Does my explanation make sense?

The adverbial objective has not been inj public schools for years, largely because the value of understanding grammar has not been recognized. In private schooling however it has continued to be thoroughly taught. The adverbial objective is not taught immediately. However, in teaching older students in ESL knowing this helps. The issue is how it is taught.

In grammar classes , this type of analysis is called parsing. It looks like this:

thirty adverbial objective modifier adjective
years adverbial objective noun
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