Misused Adverbs

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Correct Uses of Commonly Misused Adverbs

  1. Too + adjective/adverb — means excess

    For Example:

    • This water is too cold.

    Most times, we unknowingly use too in place of very.

    We must be informed that too means more than enough. So, it has a negative sense and cannot be used in place of very.

    With this insight just shared, we should be convinced the correct version of the sentence above is:

    • This water is very cold.

    But it is also correct if we rephrase the sentence this way:

    • This water is too cold to be drunk.
    Treat these two words with care:

    Only too is different from too.

    While too indicates excess of something. Only too means very.

    Bearing this in mind, the following sentence is correct.

    • I shall be only too glad to see you. (this means “very glad”)

    But we can’t say:

    • “I shall be too glad to see you”.

    It will mean “I am extremely glad to meet you but I should not be”.

    Too can be used in negative phrases like too wicked, too bad, too naughty, etc.

    Too also means also or in addition to. In this sense, it is used in affirmative sentences. In negative sentences, this meaning is suggested by using neither (NOT either) in place of too.

    Consider these examples:

    • I enjoyed the music and the performance too.
    • He does not cook and neither do I.
  2. Double Negatives

    Two negatives cancel out each other. Thus, we should not use two negatives in the same sentence unless we want to make an affirmation. So, to say, for example:

    • Until he does not work hard, he cannot pass. →is wrong

    The adverbs until, unless, scarcely and hardly are already negative. Therefore, they cannot be followed by not.

    But seldom is always followed by never or if ever, NOT ever. For example:

    • We seldom or never see those forsaken who trust in God. → (Not ‘ever’)
  3. Adverb introducing a sentence

    The verb comes before its subject when the sentence is introduced by an adverb. For example:

    • No sooner did he reach the college than it began to rain.
    • Rightly has it been said that virtue brings its own reward.
  4. Thence and whence

    Consider the sentence below:

    • I shall visit Memphis on the 2nd of the next month and from thence, I shall return home.

    Thence means from there and whence means from where, so from is not used with thence and whence. The correct form of the above sentence is:

    • I shall visit Memphis on the 2nd of the next month and thence, I shall return home.

Adverbs and the right conjunction to be used with them

  1. The adverbs scarcely and hardly are usually followed by when NOT then. For example:

    • Scarcely had I begun the journey when it started to rain.
  2. No sooner is followed by than NOT when. For example:

    • No sooner had I finished narrating the story than his phone began to ring.
  3. Nothing else is followed by but NOT than. For example:

    • It is nothing else but pride. (NOT than)
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