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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Hello paco. I have a little question before I go into your question. How about a verb?

# That camera cost $400. Is this <$400> an adverbial objective in your definition?

Just I remember reading an interesting paper, in which discussed some historical changes of these construction, including the sentence .

Hello Roro

The verb "cost" was a word borrowed from Old French, while the construct of is of Teutonic origin. So I think it would be better to take "cost" in "It costs $200" as a transitive verb and therefore "$200" as the normal object. But "a great deal" in "It costs a great deal" could be an adverbial objective.


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Hello paco.
The construct of is of Teutonic origin.

I didn't know that. Thank you.

But I'd incline to take both "$200" and "a great deal" as ambiguous expressions between accusative object and adverbial objective ... if we take a diachronic perspective. But I know that this belongs rather triffle matters for your question given above, I'd like to wind up with some information from that paper.

sto (stare)
To stand (with abl. or gen.). To stand at the price of, cost.

consto (constare)
To stand together. To be fixed or established (with abl. or gen. of price. esp. with dat. of person making the expenditure). To cost. [e.g. Libellus mihi constitit decussis(gen).]

To cost (with acc.of price).

prosto (prostare)
To offer goods for sale in public. (of a prostitute) To expose herself for hire.

(Who can ever imagine this connection between and ...?)
Hello Roro

OED says about the etymology of "cost" as follows.

a. OF. coster, couster (mod. coûter) = Pr. and Sp. costar, Pg. custar, It. costare:—L. constôre to stand together, stand firm, abide, be settled or fixed, stand at a price, cost, f. con- together + stôre to stand.
The construction of this verb is idiomatic, and for its analysis it is necessary to go back to Latin. Hoc constitit mihi tribus assibus was literally ‘this stood (to) me in three asses’. The dative of the person has in Eng. become an indirect object, to being never expressed; the Lat. locative (ablative or genitive) of the amount or price became a simple object in French, and remains an adverbial object in English, in being never expressed. Hence a natural tendency to view the noun expressing the price as a simple object, and the verb as transitive. That it is yet really intransitive is shown by the fact that it has no passive either with the price or the indirect object as subject; ‘this cost me nothing’ cannot be changed into ‘nothing was cost me by this,’ or ‘I was cost nothing by this’. The adverbial adjunct may also be expressed by an adverb as much, little, more, less, dear(ly (cf. L. carius constat): even here the tendency is to look upon much, little, etc. as adjs. used substantively.

As for the relation between and , I have never bought a prostitute in my life and so I don't know anything about it. I'm sorry.

Hello, you are welcome and thank you for your information, paco.
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... oh, I'm sorry, I should have said "Never mind" or "That's all right".
Hello Roro

I guess you are an English teacher or an English teacher-to-be. So I would like to hear from you about how you think about my proposal that the concept of "adverbial objectives" should be taught to students at earlier stages, to say, at the 2nd year of the junior high school. I feel so because in Japanese English education the sentence patterns like SV, SVC, SVO, SVOO and SVOC are taught with a heavy weight. I'm wondering in what way teachers are teaching our kids about the sentences like "He walked a long distance".

Hello paco
Umm ... I don't know. I'd take an opposite position from you. As E. Sapir says, every grammar leaks.
As to the sentence what's the matter...?
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