7.10 Adverbs

The traditional class of adverbs is quite heterogeneous and includes words which display a rich variety of morphological, syntactic, and semantic features. The following adverb tags are found in the tagged corpus (cf Appendix 4): QL, QLP, RB, RBR, RBT, RI, RN, RP. In spite of these subdivisions, the classification is quite broad. The main tagging problem is distinguishing adverbs from adjectives; see 7.11. Adverbs also overlap with determiners/pronouns (7.12), prepositions (7.13), conjunctions (7.14), and numerals (7.17). Occasional -ing forms (7.4) and -ed forms (7.18, the end) are given adverb tags. There is further some overlap with nouns; NN is kept in bolt upright, brand new, stone cold; way is tagged RB in way back/behind/over.


The tags are used for a small number of words whose primary adverbial function is to modify a following (QL) or preceding (QLP) adjective or adverb (the head word could also be of the AP type). Examples:

(56) Let me try to outline this new vision as briefly as possible. G69:73

(57) It is awfully hot in here. P07:40

(58)... there were precious few reductions in tax save... R02:5

(59) I wrote very little and very quickly. G25:4

Note examples of this and that as qualifiers:

(60) Surely marrying me isn't going to be all that bad? P03:176

(61) We have come this far together. N08:44

If a word can also have other adverbial functions, the tag assigned is generally RB (e.g. for much). A distinction between RB/RBR/RBT and QL(P) is, however, drawn with a few words: enough, indeed, less, least, more, most, so, too. Compare:

(62) It's fair enough (QLP). K25:129
She nodded lazily and stirred in her seat, enough (RB) to glance at the two children who... N29:121

(63) The art of crochet is very old indeed (QLP). E01:90
It must be done very gradually indeed (QLP). A36:159
This is indeed (RB) a success story. B14:162
... concerned private and indeed (RB) intimate affairs. G53:105

(64) Mr Baring was less (QL) enterprising. K22:32
No wonder that at this stage he more or less (RBR) gives up the writing of poetry. J60:5

(65) The third condition was the least (QL) important of the three. P22:124
The liar is the person the advocate dreads least (RBT). F13:36

(66) On the contrary, apartheid is being applied ever more (QL) ruthlessly. B01:208
Works of pure literature fell more and more (RBR) out of fashion... G40:152

(67) Most (QL) kind of you to ask me. P07:77
I was interested to learn what British films have most (RBT) impressed the members of the institute. G49:81

(68) It would be so (QL) heavenly to have him to go about with here. P20:74
So (RB) try to make do with just one slice. F33:25
So (RB) ended the Queen's confession... K20:41

(69) We are far too (QL) ignorant of each other's lives. G62:122
He was teasing again, but he was serious, too (RB). K19:41

Note the separation of the adjective and the post-qualifier in examples like:

(70)... possessed of only a very modest private income indeed. L13:30

(71) Aubrey recognizes this on a very fine scale indeed. J02:114

Unlike indeed, the post-qualifier enough can follow immediately after a premodifying adjective: a wide enough passageway (L23:64), a rare enough quality (J66:198).

Distinguishing between QL and RB/RBR/RBT is problematic before -ed forms. We have already seen that these can be either JJ or VBN and that it is difficult to draw a borderline (7.3). Where the -ed form is tagged JJ, the preceding adverb is QL, as in:

(72) Perhaps Lee wasn't quite as (QL) reserved (JJ) as I thought. K02:72

(73) ... she was so (QL) poised (JJ) and self-assured. P28:60

(74) ... even that was too (QL) involved (JJ) and tortuous for some foreign readers. A18:15

(75) Mr Halton said that he was very (QL) pleased (JJ) dealings had been resumed. A13:176

Problems arise when the -ed form is tagged VBN and the preceding word is very much like the qualifiers above, as in:

(76) ... have been as (QL) mystified (VBN) as we were with the Lagonda. G24:45

(77) I could only conclude he was so (RB) mystified (VBN) I displayed any enthusiasm... G26:104

(78) Mr Graves often seems too (QL) disgusted (VBN) by Milton to be convincing... J61:58

(79) He replied that he was not very (QL) concerned (VBN) with the details... G73:7

In (76) we assigned the tag QL, since as has no clear adverb uses apart from its 'qualifying' function (except in idioms). So in (77) is very similar but was tagged RB, as it has a variety of adverb uses: So the bus set out for Llangrwl (M04:42); So ended the Queen's confession (K20:41); ... had so corrupted his way upon the earth that... (D12:47), etc. In (78) too is clearly more in line with its use as QL than with its RB use ('also'). In (79) we find very, which is only used in a 9 'qualifying' function. Cases like (76), (78), and (79) are few, but they unquestionably lead to some inconsistency in the application of our tagging, since QL was only intended to occur before words tagged as adjectives or adverbs. The inconsistency is a reflection of the fuzzy borderline between JJ and VBN with -ed forms. The examples could be taken as evidence in favour of a more widespread use of JJ.

Finally, note that the use of the tag QL in the corpus is more restricted than it should be. Forms may be tagged RB, though they have no other adverb use than that of a typical QL word: bloody silly (C06:34), damned hot (L11:66), none too clean (P26:101), pretty quickly (G38:142), etc. Note also that 'qualifying' the has not been differentiated from its normal article use; see 7.12.


These are the tags applied to the majority of adverbs. RB... forms are found in adverbial positions in the clause; many can also be used as modifiers in adjective or adverb phrases (i.e. as 'qualifiers'). The typical RB... form is an open-class word related to, and not always clearly distinguished from, an adjective. The greatest tagging problem is distinguishing RB... forms from adjectives; see 7.11.

Some typical RB words are found as premodifiers of nouns and are then tagged JJB, as in: a nearby cinema (G49:48), overseas investment (B10:46). But RB remains in postmodifying position after a head noun, as in: a large country house nearby (G10:141), an extensive tour overseas (H26:162). RB is also assigned after BE; see 7.11.

A good number of sequences are tagged RB RB" (RB"); see 7.2. The principal type consists of sequences introduced by prepositions (see 7.8, idioms); note also some combinations ending in words which can either be conjunctions or prepositions (see 7.13, idioms). As with 'idioms' in general, the main principles have been to idiom-tag combinations which would be anomalous when tagged word by word and which can be unambiguously identified by the automatic tagging programs. But some of our sequences can be tagged in more than one way and had to be disambiguated by the post-editor. Examples:

as well

RB RB" ('also')
QL RB ('equally well')

as well as

CC CC" CC" ('and')
IN IN" IN" ('besides')
QL RB CS ('equally well as' + clause)
QL RB IN ('equally well as' + noun, pronoun, or noun phrase)

For some comments on as well as, see 7.15 (CC vs IN).

Some comparative and superlative forms are tagged RB rather than RBR/RBT when they appear in idioms: at best RB RB", once more RB RB", etc. A contrast is made between further when indicating extension (RBR) and when used as a conjunct (RB).


These two tags are used for words which exhibit both some of the features of nouns and of adverbs. The words tagged NR appear freely in nominal positions and also behave inflectionally like nouns: Monday's (NR$) meeting, today's (NR$) edition, on Tuesdays (NRS) and Thursdays (NRS), homes (NRS), etc. In other words, they are really nouns. No distinction is made depending upon syntactic function. Thus, for example, home is treated in the same way in:

(80) An Englishman's home is his castle... F16:169

(81) Our home market now has the extra cash... E05:24

(82) It's either go on or go home. E15:93

(83) If I find Stephen, I'll bring him straight home. P26:94

The tag NR is primarily used with temporal and locative nouns. Typical nouns which are more rarely used adverbially receive NN tags in nominal functions and are tagged RB when used as adverbs, e.g. way in: way behind, way over. Note that NN remains in: brand new, stone cold, etc.

The words tagged RN have typical adverb features. They lack inflection and appear in adverbial positions in the clause: come here, go there, etc. Unlike most other adverbs, they can also appear in some nominal positions, in particular as the complement of a preposition: by then, from here, etc. Some RN words are also found as premodifiers of nouns and are then tagged JJB, as in: the inland head noun, as in: the mountains inland (K12:65), the bathroom upstairs (A39:174). RN is also assigned after BE; see 7.11.

A distinction is made between locative (RN) and existential (EX) there. The distinction is usually straightforward and is dealt with quite successfully by the automatic tagging programs. Occasional problems arise when locative there appears before BE, as in:

(84) Here was Hudson, only wanting to marry his pretty Sophy and having no money to do so. And there was herself, only wishing to live quietly... K19:103

(85) Wherever he sensed it, there was the enemy. D09:172

(86) The next day, when Hal returned from school, there was the bird in a wooden cage... P18:49

(87) "Now there's a man I'd tie to, if he ever gave me the chance," the constable told himself happily as Goddard went into the hotel. N03:27

(88) Well, there it is! There is the first record of the blue goose for Europe. G17:167


Both tags apply to adverbial uses of words which can be either prepositions or adverbs. RP words typically pattern with verbs. The same tag is used whether the particle is literal or metaphorical in meaning and whether it patterns more freely with verbs or is part of an idiomatic combination. Examples:

(89) Apparently I came in the back way. P21:90
Television music comes in for considerable praise... J26:105

(90) I left the light on and went out... L12:166
He pointed out that all bodies fell at the same rate... J37:46

(91) Will you please bring up the little table. K08:68
... he'd promised to bring the children up catholics. D16:117

RP words often appear before prepositions, as in:

(92)... they all trooped in to lunch... P10:183
She may not get in to Oxford or Cambridge. G61:184

(93) The President walked slowly out of the room... N19:71
She made her beer out of sugar-cane... K29:13

(94) You've time to climb up to the heights if you feel like it. P15:27
More than 7,750 copies had been sold up to September... D15:191

No distinction is made between examples where there is a close bond with the following preposition (and it could be argued that the particle is part of a complex preposition) and examples where the particle and a following preposition are quite independent.

Idiom tagging is used with some idiomatic constructions like: grown ups NNS NNS", fed up JJ JJ" hard up JJ JJ". The following combinations caused particular difficulties: well off, better off, worse off. These expressions are less close-knit than those with idiom tagging, as shown in the following example:

(95) However, the Layards were childless and comfortably off.. G39:30

The tags applied for well/better/worse off were therefore RB(R) RP. Idiom tagging should preferably have been applied more widely with RP words, notably with 'complex prepositions' (see the examples above) and with expressions like: upside down NN RP, up to date RP IN NN, out of date RP IN NN, out of doors RP IN NNS.

RI is a more heterogeneous group than RP. The tag applies to miscellaneous uses of words which commonly function as prepositions. Examples:

(96) That's been done before. N12:8
You've never been kissed before. P13:65

(97) Between lay a country swept empty by the quick raids of.. N20:39
Trees are few and far between... G 17:126

(98) I have not read any of it since. G21:175
The paint had long since lost all its gloss... N11:145

(99) I heard no sound within... K15:83
But there was the world without as well as the world within... G25:23

A word tagged RI/RP has no other adverb tag, with the exception of about, around, over, and under in examples like:25

(100) It was about eight o'clock in the evening... L07:184

(101) The jaunt lost the lives of over half a million men. C08:43

(102) ... the success rate is likely to be under 40 per cent. H09:158

Cf the similar uses of unquestionable RB words like: approximately, circa, nearly. As regards the distinction between RB/RI/RP and IN (preposition), see 7.13.

Some RI and RP words are found as premodifiers of nouns and are then tagged JJB: the above proposal (J01:158), the back door (P21:186), the down payment (G24:58), etc. But RI/RP remain in postmodifying position: the work above (J20:125), the journey back (NO1:73), a fairly rapid slowing down of sodium extrusion (J12:58), a spin round (N04:149), etc. RI/RP are also assigned after BE; see 7.11.

Note the tag NN (NN") in cases like: there is no in between (P22:163), the to and fro of tennis (K23:118).

7.11 Adverb vs adjective

Although most adverbs are distinguished from adjectives by the ending -ly, there are a good number of forms with can have both adverb and adjective uses and can therefore belong to either class: bad, clear, close, dead, flat, good, high, loud, quick, thick, wide, etc. The distinction is often straightforward, particularly where there is a clear difference in meaning. Examples:

(103) ... the villagers were clean (JJ) people, even shining clean. (JJ) R08:102
But whoever did it got clean (RB) away without being spotted. L04:151

(104) Glue, screw and make fast (JJ). E04:130
We'll need to work fast (RB). N24:159

(105) ... he would not be home until late (RB). N21:12

(106) The house was long (JJ) and low... L09:160
This proposal is long (RB) overdue. G72:32

(107) Perhaps you are right (JJ). P12:20
I'm right (RB) behind you. P24:18

(108) The house always seemed very still (JJ) and quiet... N21:11
I waited. Still (RB) no sound from outside. N08:24

(109) The path was concrete, straight (JJ) as a railway line. L23:166
He walked straight (RB) toward a little shop... N29:68

Tagging difficulties vary depending upon syntactic position.

Premodifier of noun

This is a position characteristically occupied by adjectives. Adjective tags are consistently used, even with forms that normally function as adverbs. Examples:

(110) If she was quick, if she opened a downstairs window... L22:45

(111) Probably he had inside knowledge from one of them. P04:40

(112) Tommy looked at the clock in the nearby church. P28:115

(113) In 1958 the then 2 s ordinary shares are placed at 3 s each. A16:23

Note that a formal contrast between adjective and adverb sometimes appears: indoor -indoors, inward - inwards, etc.

Postmodifier of noun

Typical adverb forms are more frequent here than in premodifying position. Since adjectives do not normally occur as postmodifiers, there is no reason to depart from the normal tagging of these words. Examples:

(114) This trade fair had been his first journey abroad... K22:33

(115) The square weight below is from Shropshire... F09:44

(116) Despite the warmth outside it was cool in here and the fire was welcome. L05:87

Cooccurrence with copula verbs

Copula verbs are typically followed by adjectives (or noun phrases). The tagging would therefore seem to be quite straightforward. However, the most frequent copula verb, BE, can also be an intransitive verb denoting location and can then be followed by clear adverbs, as in:

(117) ... when the fish is ashore... F38:73

(118) Gavin is here! P02:64

(119) This came while you were upstairs. L18:111

Note also examples with RI and RP words, as in:

(120) My maid is out. K08:176

(121) ... no more of what is past. K20:9

(122) ... the net profit is up from 30,467 to 39,756. A38:151

BE cannot here be replaced by copulas like LOOK and SEEM. Moreover, sentences of this kind answer questions introduced by where, rather than what questions, as is the case with sentences containing the copula BE + adjective. Compare:

(123) Sue is upstairs/out.
*Sue looks/seems upstairs/out.
Where is Sue?

(124) Sue is young.
*Sue looks/seems young.
What is Sue (like)?

These criteria are usually sufficient to distinguish adverbs from adjectives after BE. Some problem cases are taken up towards the end of the section. The tagging of forms after other copulas than BE is generally straightforward: SEEM, BECOME, GET, REMAIN, FEEL, SOUND, KEEP (as in keep quiet), etc. Note, however, that there is no clear borderline between copulas and intransitive verbs.

In combinations like the following we find typically intransitive verbs used as copulas: come open, fall ill, run dry. Here the verb has lost its basic meaning and requires a following complement. From such combinations there is only a short step to sequences like: lie still, sit quiet, stand upright. These belong in the next section rather than among copula constructions.

Coccurrence with other verbs than copulas

Adjectives can clearly occur outside the positions taken up so far (i.e. in attributive position and after copula verbs). Some examples are:

(125) He embodied for the moment everything that could make life vexatious... G14:149

(126) ... munching the parched grains whole... F25:83

(127) They should be served cold but not over-chilled. E19:20

(128) Between lay a country swept empty by the quick raids of.. N20:39

(129) With an impatient movement, she pulled free from him... P05:129

(130) ... I picked up an odd fact about him that, though it seemed unimportant, came in very handy later on. N11:13

(131) His tie was flapping loose now; his hat was gone and his shoes were dusty. N15:4

(132) At the top, as soon as the door slid open, Hanson stepped out... N05:51

The verbs are either so-called complex transitive verbs (taking a direct object or an object complement), as in (125) and (126) and the passive constructions in (127) and (128), or intransitive verbs, as in the last four examples. Adjective tags are assigned if there is a copula relationship with respect to a noun phrase in the context (usually in subject or object position). In other words, the relationship can be paraphrased by inserting a copula verb. These cases are not always easy to distinguish from those where a form defines the process denoted by the verb (and then behaves more like an adverb). Compare:

(133) She cut the grass short.

(134) But he had to protect Sir Cedric and himself, and to find an excuse to cut the questioning short. L02:47

(135) I didn't really pay great attention,' she began, but he cut her short. P08:158

In (133) there is no doubt that 'the grass became short', i.e. there is a copula relationship. (134) is similar, though the questioning did not necessarily 'become short'. Such examples bridge the gap to (135), where it is definitely wrong to say that 'she became short'. The meaning is rather 'cut off, interrupt'.

Other examples illustrating the overlap between adjectives and adverbs are:

(136) ... Tom entered, sober and silently. L15:58

(137) ... Henriette saw the weaving figure of an Apache warrior reel nakedly on a pony... N20:192

(138) Mr Goddard, if that woman had treated him half way decent she would've found out she'd got herself one of them perfect husbands. N03:5

(139)... 'the moon shines bright'...
F37:153 ... the stars were shining brightly. P04:73

In (136) there is coordination of an adjective which has no clear adverb uses with a word formally marked as an adverb. We might say that the former characterizes the agent and the latter the process and assign tags accordingly. But the semantic relationship of adjectives vs adverbs is far from straightforward; note the overtly marked adverb in (137) which can hardly be said to define the process and the typical adjective in (138) which certainly defines the process. The examples in (139) are as parallel as two examples could be; them is clearly marked as an adverb.

The semantic both postverbal forms would seem primarily to define the process denoted by the verb, yet only one of criteria must clearly be applied with caution. But they are the only ones we can go by in many cases with forms which have both adjective and adverb uses.

Loosely integrated 'disjunct' expressions

Another point of overlap between adjectives and adverbs is found in expressions where speakers/writers comment on what they are saying/writing. Such comments are very often expressed by adverbs, as in:

(140) Frankly, it's not for Frankie... C04:2

(141) This apparently, was Mr Macmillan's assessment. A06:112

(142) More importantly, perhaps, Weber held that the manifold meaning attached to the event by the social scientist could alter his definition of.. G67:129

Similar expressions may also be found with forms not ending in -ly:

(143) Finally, perhaps most important of all, he knew that Cranbrook was not in London when... J59:82

(144) The murder weapon, more than likely, and perhaps evidence enough to have brought a killer to book in modem times. F04:41

(145) ... serve a glass of light non-vintage port with the Boston cream pie; or perhaps even better, an inexpensive dessert wine from Cyprus called Commandaria. E19:85

(146) ... the bravery of Wallace, Bruce and his indomitable spider, Bannockbum, Mary Queen of Scots and best of all, Bonnie Prince Charlie, with tartans waving and banners flying... G22:43

Since these expressions can be regarded as reductions of clauses with predicative adjectives, the tag chosen was JJ.

Complement of preposition

The typical complement of a preposition is a noun or noun phrase. Adverbs occur in temporal and locative expressions like: before now, by then, from abroad, in here, etc. Forms typically used as adjectives occur in: for sure, for certain, in general, in particular, etc. Since this use is restricted and does not appear to follow any general rule, we usually resorted to idiom tagging; see 7.2.

Occurrence before prepositions

Prepositions are often preceded by adverbs: immediately after..., right behind..., just below..., straight toward..., etc. Note, in particular, RP words in sequences like: in to..., out of... out to.... back from.... back to.... down from.... down to..., etc. Other forms given adverb tags before prepositions are exemplified in:

(147) He put his gun close to the other's stomach. N19:109

(148) ... words which seem to run counter to his own theories. J35:156

(149) ... nobody sits far from the minister. D02:42

(150) ... with a sensitive probe mounted slightly forward of the head of the jib... H06:175

(151) She went as near to the door as she could... N21:193

(152) Nearer to him was the large dome of a building... K24:154

(153) He sat next to Princess Alexandra. A10:77

(154) Prior to the 1914-18 war the majority of historic houses and estates in the United Kingdom were occupied by their owners... F43:39

(155) Because of the very special honour accorded to Royalty and high-ranking clergy, everyone is presented to them, regardless of title, age or sex. F08:126

(156)... crossing the railway line short of the eastern side of Berkswell station. A27:200

(157) He crossed the coast a few miles south of Ancona... N01: 167

(158) ... mentally disordered children who have either been ascertained as such subsequent to admission, or who... H25:108

Since adverbs are quite common in this position while clear adjectives are normally excluded, we tended to assign adverb tags to forms which can have both adverb and adjective uses. Difficulties arise with sequences after the verb BE, since this can be followed both by adjectives and adverbs (cf above):

(159) ... when the ground water level would be close to surface. E27:83

(160) Conservative party fortunes are far from their peak at the present time. B20:135

(161) The speed dash into Sussex was near to its end. P01:113

There is probably some inconsistency in the tagging of such examples. An adjective tag was consistently assigned in the following sequence, which is often found after BE: due to.

Some of the sequences exemplified above could be regarded as 'complex prepositions'. Note idiom tagging in the case of. irrespective of IN IN". This is a more close-knit combination than regardless of (cf 155); while regardless is found as an independent adverb, irrespective always cooccurs with of. Idiom tagging should preferably have been used more widely with 'complex prepositions'.

Occurrence before adjectives

Both adjectives and adverbs can occur before adjectives. The distinction is generally straightforward. Compare: a pretty (JJ) blue dress, a pretty (RB) awful dress. While the former refers to a blue dress which is pretty, the latter says that the dress is 'pretty awful'. Tagging difficulties arise in some cases. Note first the compound adjectives in examples like:

(162) a blue-black sky P04:72

(163) long greyish-green coats F11:84

There is only a short step to examples where there is no hyphen between the forms, as in:

(164) dark yellowish brown ... sand J03:157

(165) light grey sandy ware with light reddish buff surface J67:64

(166) its brilliant scarlet berries and bright green foliage E23:159

(167) her deep red dress A09:80

(168) a dull orange shirt N07:97

(169) a pale blue coat A28:28

Such sequences look very much like those containing adverb + adjective; note, for example, that a pale blue coat clearly is not 'a blue coat that is pale' but rather 'a coat which is pale blue'. Nevertheless, as overtly marked adverbs do not occur in these combinations, the analysis chosen was adjective + adjective.

The analysis adjective + adjective was also chosen in:

(170) She felt icy cold and completely desperate. P04:61

(171) a South African medium dry white Paarl Amber E19:128

But adverb + adjective was assigned in: wide awake, wide open, dead straight, etc. The adverb analysis was preferred with forms which can modify a variety of adjectives.

Comparative and superlative forms

These were treated in principle in the same way as the base forms. Note the tagging of..

(172) ... a tolerable number of my most gifted colleagues would do no better. G28:175

(173) A second effort to romanticize Devon did no better. G16:2

(174) They know better than that. N18:78

(175) You deserve better than a cold snack. L05:12

(176) ... has often to coax inexperienced artists to give better than their best. G43:156

Adverb tags were assigned in the first three examples. The sequences in (172) and (173) should be compared with DO + well, which is clearly different from DO + good (object). In the last two examples we chose adjective tags, as the verbs normally require an object. The examples are then analysed as equivalent to 'deserve/give something better'.

Problem words

Three groups of problem words will be taken up below. There are many more words where the classification adjective vs adverb is difficult, e.g. in: steer clear of, my watch is fast, I won't be long, is parallel to, is short of, etc. No claim can be made for complete consistency of tagging. For more examples, see the concordance.


Certain words beginning with a- do not fit neatly into the adjective or adverb class. In contrast to central adjectives, they do not occur as premodifiers of nouns. It is nevertheless possible to make a distinction between adjectives and adverbs, using criteria taken up above. Compare:

(177) ... the luxury hotel was adrift (RB) and floating away... N10:84

(178) While Anne was away (RB) the weather suddenly changed... G29:141

(179) Mary wasn't handsome when she was awake (JJ), and asleep (JJ) she looked ghastly. N10:102

(180) It all happened before I was really aware (JJ) of it. P23:171

Adverbs include: aboard, abreast, abroad, adrift, afoot, aground, ajar, aloft, aloud, around, ashore, away, awry. Adjectives include:. ablaze, afloat, afraid, aghast, aglow, akin, alert, alight, alive, amiss, ashamed, asleep, averse, awake, aware.

A distinction is made between adjective and adverb uses of alike, alone, and aloof. Compare:

(181) Otherwise the two scenes are deliberately made alike (JJ)... J61:135

(182) Her regime, hated alike (RB) by all the men, produced one extraordinary result. L01:116

(183) But politics simply wouldn't leave John alone (JJ). D16:80

(184) In New York alone (RB) a serious offence is committed every two minutes. B20:213

(185) He determined to remain completely aloof (JJ). K11:171

(186) ... most of the trading classes held aloof (RB). F28:186

Close, far, near (and inflected forms)

These words have clear adverb uses, as in:

(187) Barker was at the water's edge when a shell dropped close, shattering a soldier's arm... F23:128

(188) A soldier has to walk too. Walk far. N07:56
... most people pay far less. J47:145

(189) He said that as the other car drew near McCarron swung their car sharply to the other side... A35:158
After ten days of intermittent, near fatal ennui... C02:4

There are just as clear examples of adjective uses: at close range, the far end, in the near future, etc.

Note the frequent occurrences of the three words before adverbs and prepositional phrases, as in:

(190) ... with small black eyes set close together beneath heavily marked brows... L04:193
Again, he followed close behind her. N21:78

(191) ... sparkled on the river as it wound its leisurely way far below. P15:40
... a beacon tower whose flames flickered at night far over the treacherous sea-flats. F26:132

(192) He followed her into the room near by. P17:75
There was a bird singing in a tree near at hand. P15:87

Adverb tags were assigned here. Some combinations are good candidates for idiom tagging; cf the remarks above under 'occurrence before prepositions' (examples 147-161). Note the idiom tagging of far from in some contexts; see 7.13 example 21.

Problems arise particularly after BE, which can both be a copula verb (followed by adjectives) and an intransitive verb denoting location (followed by adverbs); cf the discussion above under 'cooccurrence with copula verbs'. Examples:

(193) ... had been out in front for three laps, and was close up on the second Bentley at the finish. E16:137
When she reached the kitchen he was close behind her. K18:198

(194) But wherever they came from, it was far away in Arctic or sub-Arctic lands G17:66
... as though his mind were far beyond reality. N21:60

(195) The speed dash into Sussex was near to its end. P01:113

In the position after BE these words are typically followed by adverbs or prepositional phrases (as in 193-195), which points towards an adverb analysis (cf 190-192). Note also that close and far can often be deleted:

(196) He was (close) behind her.

(197) It is (far) away in Arctic lands.

Taking these matters into account (and other points taken up in the discussion above under 'cooccurrence with copula verbs'), we generally opted for an adverb tag in combinations with BE. An exception is close in examples like: the similarity between the settings is very close (J62:168); The plumage should be close, firm... (E14:179). Here close occurs without a following adverb or prepositional phrase and BE can be replaced by the copula SEEM (pointing towards JJ).

High, low, deep (and inflected forms)

Adjective uses are of course common: a high tower, a low hut, deep water, etc. Adjective tags are also typical examples of copula constructions, used to ascribe properties to an entity. Note that BE can be replaced by the clear copula SEEM.

Adverb tags were assigned in examples like:

(198) They climbed higher and higher. P04:49

(199) ... a bullet aimed at the diving Stukas had gone too low. F23:117

(200) Willie gasped deep... N24:121

Note the frequent occurrences with following adverbs or prepositional phrases, as in:

(201) It's nice living high up... P28:133
Overhead a flying saucer whirred and, pitched high above the whir, whined its pungent song. M01:172

(202) The twelve humans glided down and landed on its back, low down on the abdomen... M06:176
... the next moment it blurred into a solid murk low against the roll of far horizon. N14:77

(203) Was it perhaps that, deep down in the man's vast depravity, there was a craving after beauty that G05:71
I talked of him with a sadness that went deep inside me. P15:131

Cf the similarity in meaning (=location) and syntactic patterning to the words in the preceding group. There is a possible contrast between BE + JJ and BE + RB: the house is high, the water is deep vs the house is high up in the mountains, the boat is deep in the water.

7.12 Determiners/pronouns

These have tags beginning with A or DT (except possessive determiners). The various subgroups will be taken up below. Many of the forms also occur in nominal positions, in other words as pronouns. Note that, in general, no distinction is made between the use of the forms as determiners and as pronouns. Examples:

  1. All (ABN) mothers go there. B14:108
    Let all (ABN) pray for peace... G11: 162
  2. Here the groups could live without so much (AP) fear. M06:119
    So much (AP) is established. M04:17
  3. I've never done anything of that (DT) sort before, you know. P08:107
    I've heard that (DT) before. N14:155
  4. I don't feel any (DTI) sense of guilt. P04:121
    He will refuse to race if any (DTI) hits his face. A23:84
  5. Pronoun tags (PN... and PP.... except PP$) are reserved for categories of words which only occur in nominal positions.

    Many typical determiners can be used in adverbial positions and are then usually given adverb tags. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between determiner and adverb.

    ABL - pre-qualifier/pronoun (quite, rather, such)

    The three words tagged ABL share the characteristic that they often precede the indefinite article. But such is the only word of the three which can be used as a pronoun. All uses of such are tagged ABL, except in the idiomatic sequences: such as (CS CS"; IN IN'), such that (CS CS"). Compare:

  6. ... there were no homes for old people such (CS) as (CS") there are to-day. F20:192
  7. ... the design of everyday articles such (IN) as (IN") a chair and a motor-car. C04:200
  8. But if the notice is such (ABL) as (CS) to leave doubt in the mind of the tenant... J48:7
  9. Such (ABL) as (IN) he had no right to possess that... K24:88
  10. And so, apparently, a hiatus is opened, such (CS) that (CS") it must seem there is no way of penetrating... J53:195
  11. British approval tests have been such (ABL) that (CS) an explosive is failed if... J72:44
  12. Note the difference between idiomatic and non-idiomatic combinations.

    Quite and rather are tagged ABL when they precede the definite or the indefinite article (or another). Otherwise they are RB. Compare:

  13. She dances well and seems quite (ABL) a charming young woman. P07:94
    ... poor little Dai was quite (ABL) the man for her. M04:32
    It is quite (ABL) another matter to suppose that... J49:65
  14. ... which is a quite (RB) insignificant quantity. J01:103
    The beauty of the place quite (RB) exceeded his expectations. G06:4
  15. 'He's rather (ABL) a shy boy, you see,' he said. P26:151
    That's rather (ABL) the point, isn't it? R03:120
  16. Our subsidiary companies have had a rather (RB) disappointing year... H28:34
    I rather (RB) like that. K11:109
  17. Rather is sometimes RB in positions before the definite or the indefinite article, as in:

  18. She had seen Dan, or rather the physical relic of him... M01:48
  19. Gay felt no heartbreak, rather a sense of relief.. P02:175
  20. ABN - pre-quantifier/pronoun (all, half)

    The great majority of occurrences of all and half are tagged ABN. Examples of adverb uses are:

  21. All around us people slept. L12:16
    So she was all alone. G10:135
    ... she was all prepared to love you for ever. P1 1:80
    He was all enthusiasm... A26:90
  22. Shale seemed half asleep. L19:135
    Bone half smiled in the darkness. L04:52
    ... a room which seemed half church, half office. K24:20
  23. The distinction between ABN and RB is sometimes blurred, particularly with all:

  24. Her father was glad it had all ended. P22:186
  25. He doesn't seem to be all there. P18:34
  26. She's determined to get married and leave, young as she is. They're all too independent these days. L06:42
  27. '... these stories of starvation in Toronto are all wrong,' he said. A24:58
  28. While the meaning of (19)-(20) is more or less the same whichever tag is chosen, (20)-(21) are ambiguous ('they all' vs 'all too independent' and 'all these stories' vs $completely wrong').

    Half sometimes behaves like a regular noun (it can, for example, be pluralized or take a premodifying adjective) and is then tagged NN. Examples:

  29. The lower half of the door was unlatched... K24:19
  30. ... went to fight for a ham sandwich and a half of bitter in the bar. A10:224
  31. But ABN is used in cases like: two and a half miles, a mile and a half.26

    Note the idiom tagging (RB RB") off all but ('almost'), all ready ('already'), all right, half way. Compare: all the same (ABN ATI AP), at all (IN ABN), in all (IN ABN), etc. The general rule has been not to idiom-tag sequences which cannot be identified automatically as idioms and/or which do not exhibit unusual tag sequences when tagged word by word; cf 7.2.

    ABX - pre-quantifier/pronoun/double conjunction (both)

    No distinction is made between different uses of both.

    AP - post-determiner/pronoun

    The tag is used for a fairly heterogeneous group of words. About half of them are quantifiers: few, fewer, least, less, little,27 many, more, most, much, several. The others typically combine with another determiner (usually the definite article) to limit the reference of a following noun: former, last, latter, next, only, other, own, same, very. Pronominal uses of AP-words are common, especially with the quantifiers. Note the idiom tagging of: a few (AP AP") a little (AP AP"; RB RB"), a good many (AP AP" AP"), a great many (AP AP" AP").

    The principal tagging problem is distinguishing between RB... and pronominal AP with the quantifiers. Compare (least, less, more, most can also be QL, but this is a minor problem and will not be taken up here; cf 7.10)28

  32. Most groups spent slightly less (AP) on potatoes than in the previous year... H04:109
    As spring approached they appeared less (RBR) and less (RBR)... R08:68
  33. Yet one finds so little (AP) that does survive... J68:159
    They talked little (RB) on the way back to the hotel... L1 1:40
  34. ... there was a case for a tax which took a (AP) little (AP") from everybody. G01: 119
    He seemed to be panicking a (RB) little (RB"), to be losing control. N08:158
  35. He was going to say more (AP) when... N14:171
    There's nothing he likes more (RBR) than to frighten the party. K03:44
    ... her pinched face seemed more (RBR) eyes than anything else. N07:205
  36. ... these four objectives about which we have heard most (AP) in the past year. B07:42
    It is certainly the novel which I enjoyed most (RBT) in 1961. C11:168
  37. He has brought to the surface, further, much (AP) that is latent in the texts... G67:75
    People talk far too much (RB) and say the same things over and over again. K10:176
  38. The general rule has been to assign AP when there is a notion of 'quantity' and RB when the prevailing notion is 'degree'. The distinction is usually made clear by formal criteria, such as the valency of the verb (whether it combines with an object or not) and substitution (whether the form can be replaced by a noun phrase or by an adverb). Compare:








    more information







    want it



    ten pounds



    Difficulties sometimes arise with verbs which can be used with or without an object. The distinction is blurred in an example like: He drinks less now.

    There are special problems with 'complex quantifier' constructions ending in more or less. Compare:




    more (information)






    a little


    a little


















    More is clearly AP vs RBR, but what about the preceding words? All these can be either determiners (AP, ATI, or DTI) or RB. The combinations in the righthand column should be compared with expressions like much longer and no longer, where the quantifier must be RB. Hence it seems natural to assign an adverb tag here. The combinations in the lefthand column are more difficult to analyse. Note that AP quantifiers can be preceded both by clear quantifying words and by clear adverbs. Compare:

    two more people

    far more interest

    many more people

    far more young people

    But there is no ordinary modifier-head relationship between the two quantifiers in the lefthand column at the beginning of the paragraph. Note that either can be deleted: want much (information), want more (information), etc. The final analysis of 'complex quantifier' constructions was therefore as illustrated below:











    In other words, the elements in the sequences were treated in a corresponding manner. (Needless to say, adverb tags were also chosen before QL, as in: much more interesting, much more seldom.)

    A related problem with more arises in expressions like: two books more, nothing more. Since the former type can be paraphrased with a clear determiner (two more books) and since determiner-type quantifiers can follow the nouns or pronouns they relate to (these stories all, they both, etc), the tag chosen was AP. Note the idiom tagging of: once more (RB RB")

    A further problem is found in expressions like: more interesting books, more expensive cars. These can mean either 'a greater number of interesting books/expensive cars' or 'books/cars which are more interesting/expensive', and, more is then either AP or QL. The interpretation is usually made clear by context.

    Note, finally, that some of the 'limiters' can also have adverbial uses. Compare:

  39. ... we're the last (AP). K10:17
    'It's a while since you saw me last (RB),' the girl reminded her smilingly. P29:43
  40. ... treatment of old age was next (AP) and a permanent peace settlement third. F10:109
    i wondered what to do next (RB). K15:89
  41. Only (AP) cigarettes worth smoking, these. R03:113
    Kennan had only (RB) seconds left. L03:4
  42. it seemed to bite into the very (AP) ice-bound fabric of the plunging ship. N27:133
    'It was a very (QL) bad time,' said Brian. F14:40
  43. Next was tagged AP in combinations like (cf the treatment of similar sequences with ordinals; see 7.17): next most important, next most popular. As regards next, see further 7.13 (idioms). - Only can also be CC; see 7.14. - Note the idiom tagging of: at last (RB RB"), at long last (RB RB" RB"), at least (RB RB"), none the less (RB RB" RB"). As regards the sequence more than, see 7.15 (the end).

    AT, ATI - article (a, an, every; the, no)

    A distinction is made between 'singular article' (AT) and 'singular or plural article' (ATI). Different uses of the definite and the indefinite article are not distinguished. The even keeps its tag in expressions like: the sooner, the better; all the better. But note the idiom tagging (RB RB" RB") of: by(e), the by(e), none the less. As regards a, see the examples in 7.25 and 8.4.

    The tagging of every as AT rather than DT and of no as ATI rather than DTI is because they require a following head noun, whereas words tagged DT or DTI can be used either as determiners or as pronouns. While every can only be AT, no can be ATI, RB, or UH. Examples:

  44. It would do him no (ATI) good to carry useless regret through life. N25:103
  45. The statement of Padley and Crossman is no (RB) different in principle to the new defence statement. B06:176
  46. You think I no (RB) try and get the work, huh? N29:20
  47. The answer is no (UH) in both cases. D10:38
  48. Among RB uses we include no + adjective (including the expression it is no good ... ), no + adverb (as in no sooner), and no used in dialogue equivalent to not. Note the idiom tagging of: no one PN PN". - As regards the sequence no more/less, see above under AP.

    DT, DTI, DTS - determiner/pronoun

    The distinction between the three tags relates to number: DT singular (another, each, that, this), DTI singular or plural (any, enough, some), DTS plural (these, those). Pronominal uses are very common (and are not singled out by special tags). This and that are occasionally used as 'qualifiers', as in:

  49. We have come this (QL) far together. N08:44
  50. I couldn't help thinking it was not all that (QL) great. G49:46
  51. That can, of course, further be a conjunction (CS) and a relative pronoun (WPR); see 7.14.

    The principal tagging problem is distinguishing between DTI and RB. The difficulties are of the same kind as with AP quantifiers and were solved in a corresponding manner (see above). Examples:

  52. Our shops will be as attractive and as modern as any (DTI) in the country. A15:143
  53. We must not meet any (RB) more. K19:35
  54. ... if you were thinking of brewing coffee, I'd love some (DTI). N09:159
  55. A coach, I thought, would have to slow up some (RB) on a trail like that. N06:65
  56. Note the idiom tagging of: some one PN PN". Enough can be DTI, QLP (cf 7.10), or RB. Examples:

  57. There is food enough (DTI) but the hunger never grows less. D03:44
  58. That is bad enough (QLP). M05:8
  59. Juarez, I can never reward you enough (RB). N19:145
  60. DTX - determiner/pronoun/double conjunction (either, neither)

    All uses of either are tagged DTX. Neither is DTX except in examples like:

  61. I don't want to go back. - Neither (RB) do I, Rob. P10:67
  62. Interventions of this kind cannot be ignored, and neither (RB) can their importance. G59:66
  63. Compare these examples with similar uses of nor and so, as in:

  64. No scientist took part in their design, nor (CC) do scientists participate in their operation. G55:194
  65. I only want them to go voluntarily. - So (PN) do I. K09:163
  66. Nor is tagged CC, since it cannot normally be preceded by a coordinating conjunction (*and nor, *but nor), while such sequences are quite acceptable with neither. So in examples like (51) is tagged PN because of order variations and substitutions like: so did I, I did so too, I did that too.

    PP$ - possessive determiner

    The tag is only used for the determiner function. Thus his is treated differently in examples like:

  67. Alan shook his (PP$) head. P26:121
  68. His (PP$$) was an impressive funeral... G30:171
  69. The principal difficulty is distinguishing between her as a possessive determiner and as a personal pronoun in examples like:

  70. He imagined that he could hear her breathing agitatedly. L20:96
  71. He watched her walk to the door. L1 1:205
  72. She could have been dressed for a ball, the way their eyes turned and watched her approach. P21:148
  73. Mark had not made any definite arrangements about her going to his home again. P09:17
  74. ... what was there to stop her turning up to claim the money? L22:27
  75. He didn't like her wearing jeans. N16:28

The first example is disambiguated by the final adverb. In this and other examples we can also use a substitution test (e.g. him vs his). But difficulties remain with some sequences, and we must fall back upon our follow-the-tagger principle (Section 6).

7.13 Prepositions

The major tagging problems are preposition vs conjunction (see 7.15), preposition vs adjective, and preposition vs adverb. Note that the following -ing forms may be treated as prepositions: barring, concerning, considering, excepting, failing, following, including, pending, regarding, respecting, touching (and with idiom tagging: according to, excepting for, owing to).29 The distinction between IN and VGB is sometimes problematic with following and including. Note also IN with: per, minus, plus, times (as in two times three).30 For some other marginal cases of IN, see 7.22 and 7.24.

IN vs JJ

The borderline between prepositions and adjectives with obligatory complementation is sometimes blurred. Like, near, nearer, and nearest have been treated as prepositions in examples like:

  1. Like all the rest, this room was richly furnished... P08:166
    ... it sounded like the boom of an approaching herd. K09:180
    What is he like? P27:169
    Feeling very like a child, Linda did as she was requested... P21:50
  2. The worst comes near the beginning. C10:20
    Our school was near the coast... R09:121
    It was very near his old home. K24:78
  3. We moved another step nearer the inevitable, the show-down. N12:34
  4. ... Sir Walter, nearest the camera, was on parade in shirt sleeves. B22:28
  5. The similarity of like and near to adjectives is shown by the preceding 'qualifier' very in two of the examples. Near to, nearer to, and nearest to in examples similar to (2)-(4) are treated as RB... + IN.31 It might have been preferable to tag them as complex prepositions (cf 7.11).

    Another problematic word is worth. This is treated as a preposition in examples like:

  6. My dad said it was worth a lot of money. P28:108
  7. Now she knew how much it was worth. L21:1 10
  8. Henry Angelo's description of this is worth while quoting in full. G56:119
  9. The tagging of worthwhile varies with the way it is written: worthwhile JJ, worth-while JJ, worth (IN) while (NN). Worth can, of course, also be NN.

    IN vs RB

    About, around, over, and under are treated as RB when they can be omitted without injuring the structure of the sentence. In these cases they usually precede quantifying expressions; see 7.10, examples (100)-(102). But IN is used in examples like:

  10. It was built about 1690. A09:152
  11. The general position of widows over 60 is explained in paragraph 57. H20:69
  12. This chap was a big man, standing a shade under six feet and pushing two hundred pounds. G36:68
  13. Here it is not possible to leave out the italicized forms.

    Note also that some typical prepositions may be tagged RB in idioms; cf 7.2 and the end of this section.

    IN vs RI

    The tag IN is used with 'stranded' prepositions when the word or phrase it relates to is recoverable from the context and there is a possible paraphrase with the preposition followed by its complement. Examples:

  14. I was curious to see what eminent people looked like. G21:19
  15. The people she is with are the Belgians I told you about... P02:38
  16. ... his theory allows them to be completely dispensed with. J60:39
  17. Typical prepositions without following or contextually recoverable complements are tagged RI (provided that RP does not apply); see the examples in 7.10. Note RI in:

  18. 'I'm pretty chipper, thanks, considering.' K01:6
  19. 'Gomorrah,' I said absent-minded like. N06:12
  20. It was all over and done with. N02:47
  21. Note further examples like: from within (RI), from without (RI).

    IN vs RP

    The distinction between IN and RP is generally straightforward. IN is assigned if the form is fixed in the position before a following noun, pronoun, or noun phrase (and remains even before a weakly stressed pronoun), while RP forms can often be moved behind a following noun, pronoun, or noun phrase (and is obligatorily placed after a weakly stressed pronoun in object position). Compare:

  22. We believe in (IN) the cinema. B04:235
    (Cf. *believe the cinema in, *believe it in, believe in it)
  23. Stir in (RP) the flour...
    (Cf. Stir the flour in, Stir it in, *Stir in it)
  24. IN and RP overlap before here and there. Compare:



    IN or RP:





    around here




    this place



    *this place




    in this place








    In clear cases from is a preposition and back an adverbial particle; they should therefore be tagged IN and RP, respectively. But how do we deal with forms which can be either IN or RP (around, down, in, etc)? Notice first that here can be replaced by this place after from, but not after back (where we need to insert a preposition). The same substitution can be used to deal with the other forms. Compare (imagine a context with a verb like be or stay):


    this place


    *this place
    in this place


    this place


    (this place)
    in this place


    this place


    *this place
    in this place

    Over this place is possible, but not in the same sense as the usual meaning of over here; over was therefore tagged RP. Where the meaning is directional , the difference between the two groups disappears (imagine that the phrases occur after the verb come):


    *this place
    to this place


    *this place
    to this place


    *this place
    to this place


    *this place
    to this place


    *this place
    to this place


    *this place
    to this place

    Using the substitution criterion we should thus vary the tagging with context (but no claim can be made for complete consistency in tagging on this point).

    IN vs TO

    The automatic tagging programs often go wrong with sequences of to + a form which can either be an unmodified noun or a base form of a verb: to rest, to sleep, to work, etc. For the human post-editor, such sequences are usually straightforward.


    A good number of 'complex prepositions' are recognized (see 7.2). As pointed out before (see 7.11), it might have been preferable to tag more sequences as 'complex prepositions'.

    Certain sequences ending in typical prepositions are tagged as 'complex adverbs' (RB RB") Examples:

  25. 'This town kind of grows on me.' N06:53
  26. ... pretending to be interested and sort of intense the way his mother was at her dotty parties. K27:174
  27. Its application, however, was far from easy. G66:96
  28. ... finding it next to impossible to discuss Betty like this, P23:3
  29. Some sequences ending in words which can either be prepositions or conjunctions are treated in a corresponding manner. Examples:

  30. Then he had all but lost his temper. K21:65
  31. The fiasco was anything but unexpected... G44:70
  32. One false movement and you're as good as dead. P04:18
  33. She reached for the phone, but before she could so much as lift the receiver the bell began to ring. N11:112
  34. It has more than doubled since the service started. B14:216

IN is excluded here, as there is no complement of the type we expect with prepositions (cf Section 7.15). Moreover, the last form in the sequences illustrated in (23)-(26) could not be tagged as a conjunction, as it is impossible to use a paraphrase with a complete clause. The only remaining option was to tag the sequences as 'complex adverbs'.

7.14 Conjunctions

A distinction is made between coordinators (CC) and subordinators (CS). There is some overlap between CC and CS. Other tagging problems are conjunction vs preposition (see 7.15), conjunction vs adverb, and conjunction vs relative word. But and so are especially problematic and are dealt with separately at the end of this section.

The following -ed or -ing forms may be treated as subordinating conjunctions: considering, provided, providing (and with idiom tagging: considering that, provided that, seeing that).32 & is CC. The non-alphabetical character 1 may be CC; see 7.24. But note that and/or is treated as a single word (CC).

CC vs CS

For is on the borderline between CS and CC. It looks very much like a more formal variant of because, which is a clear subordinating conjunction. Compare:

  1. I can't ask you up because it's a strictly stag affair. P03:144
  2. The book was never finished, for his illness and death intervened... G32:18
  3. In these examples we could easily substitute the two conjunctions for each other. But while a because-clause sometimes precedes its superordinate clause, the for-clause is restricted to final position and is similar in this respect to a clause introduced by a coordinating conjunction. On the other hand, for-clauses do not exhibit the ellipsis characteristic of coordinate clauses. The final decision was to treat the conjunction for as CS.

    CC vs RB

    Yet is treated as CC when it occurs medially in a sentence and is equivalent to but. Examples:

  4. I can't let her down just like that, yet one day it will have to come. P1 0: 104
  5. ... the ingenious yet simple way in which... L24:193
  6. When yet opens a sentence or is preceded by a major punctuation mark (such as a dash or a semi-colon), it is treated as RB, as in:

  7. Bad bronchitis can be specially distressing. Yet a poultice can ease this breathing... F33:182
  8. But 'core' CC words (and, but, or) retain CC even when they open a sentence, as in:

  9. They have a car and Pat has a fur coat. But less than four years ago they went hungry in order that their baby, David, would have food. F14:29
  10. The differing treatment of but and yet is a reflection of our 'normalcy principle' (Section 6).

    Another typical adverb, only, is also tagged CC when it is equivalent to but, as in:

  11. It seems that she was an honest enough woman, only her mind wasn't as clear as it could have been. L01:5
  12. Occurrences are few, and since there is a clear contrast in meaning with respect to only as RB, the tag CC was assigned both in initial and medial position of sentences.

    As regards the treatment of neither vs nor, see 7.12, examples (48)-(50).

    CS vs RB, RN

    Some words can be either adverbs or subordinating conjunctions: directly, immediately, now, once, so (see the end of this section), though. Compare:

  13. Therefore I dare not let go the chance, and directly (CS) I can prevail on her to do so I shall make... K19:80
    Her smooth oval face came up directly (RB). N22:88

  14. ... I knew him immediately (CS) 1 saw him. PIS:192
  15. The units were ordered to report for duty immediately (RB). A27:141

  16. However, now (CS) 1 have found out it makes it easier to say this. L21:152
  17. 'Now (RN) I'll finish him off,' said Rossi. N23:180

  18. Once (CS) inside, she stood chewing the cud... G19:125
  19. Once (RB) the traverser moved, and they threw themselves flat. M06:207

  20. Tom was the reverse of my tastes, though (CS) good at heart. L15:19
  21. I doubt though (RB), if our opponents credit me with filial affection. K13:38

    It is usually clear whether or not the italicized forms introduce subordinate clauses (sometimes elliptical with once and though). Directly (CS) and immediately (CS) are equivalent to the moment (that), as soon as.33 Now (CS) is equivalent to now that (with idiom tagging: CS CS"). There is a clear semantic contrast between the two uses of once. The two uses of though differ positionally.34

    CS vs W-tags

    That can be CS or WPR, and the distinction is usually straightforward. WPR is only used when the form has a nominal function, as in:

  22. He quotes also from Russian books that have not been translated. C08:23
  23. It was his blood that had spattered the stones... L14:178
  24. CS is assigned in examples like:

  25. It was then that she noticed Michael. P28:178
  26. It was to Terence that she made her appeal. P13:171
  27. It was the first time that such beauty had followed him. L20:11

Note, in particular, that CS is used in cleft constructions when the focused element is an adverb, adverb phrase, or a prepositional phrase. - Needless to say, that is CS when it introduces a nominal clause: she said that..., it is true that..., etc. Idiom tagging is found with a number of sequences ending in that; see 7.2.

The following WH-words are always treated as CS: whereas, whereupon, whether. The other WH-words only receive W-tags: where, whereat, whereby, etc. Note especially that when is always tagged WRB. See further 7.16.

Correlative coordinators

Correlative coordination is marked as follows: both - and ABX CC; either - or, neither - nor DTX CC; not only - but XNOT RB CC.


A number of 'complex conjunctions' are recognized, in particular sequences with as and that; see 7.2. The following sequences, which can be either idioms or freer combinations and which are not anomalous syntactically when tagged word by word, were not idiom-tagged: as far as, as long as, as soon as, so far as, so long as. These were treated as: QL RB CS. Note also: in case IN NN.



She had read of such things happening to others, but this was her first experience and she was unafraid. P13:33
But all that, I regret to say, came to nothing. H17:72


... might have taken her anywhere but to Barletta... NO L 113 He would do anything to please her but marry... G39:132
I could not but feel the chilliness of the new church... G04:72
She would have attacked her father but that (CS CS") they pulled her away K17:47
I shouldn't wonder but what he's still there. L21:203


He would have made it easy but for (IN IN") the little man. L20:50
... the whole truth and nothing but the truth. N12:16
All but lead-212 will decay completely within six hours. J04:144
... the encounter seems to have been anything but a success. G41:80


Then he had all but (RB RB") lost his temper. K21:65
It is, in fact, anything but (RB RB") simple and ordinary. J22:122


Though he understood but little of it... G32:1 10
... if he reflects but a moment. D14:81
The whole business was turning out to be that of but one long lifetime. K29:9
... they are but variations upon a single theme. J49:134

The great majority of the examples are clear cases of the coordinating conjunction; CC was assigned both in medial and in sentence-initial position. The next most frequent tag is IN (=except), which is chiefly found with the idiom but for and in sequences like: all but, anything but, nothing but. CS rather than IN was assigned before prepositional phrases and verb forms; CS was also used in the sequence but that (and a single occurrence of but what). The assignment of RI (=only) is usually straightforward. RB" was used in the idiom all but (=almost) and with some occurrences of anything but (before adjectives, where no other tag seemed applicable; cf 7.13, the end).



She sent me to London so she could accuse me of trying to kill the old lady. L22:173
Plenty of rain has fallen here lately, so the going should be perfect next week. A32:124
... we've got no whiskers so as (CS CS") you can see. N06:133
She was standing halfway up the stairs, so that (CS CS") her head was on the level of his feet. K06:65


in so far as (CS CS" CS" CS")


... I have seen them do so. F40:133
Admission price was low; so was the annual subscription. G30:139
This may be so. G67:152
... if that was the white man's custom, he had said, so be it. K29:81
... if they so wish ... H21:67
... if so the drill has been incorrectly ground. E03:151
... as if the poor fellow had rocks in his head, so the verger described afterwards. PO 1: 165


So many people I'd trusted have turned against me. N19:37
There had been so much to see. P29:6
Why was he so angry? P13:172
She was so beautifully dressed. F03:122
They will cancel each other out, so far as looks go. L13:181


They objected to the word absolution. So the phrase 'or the remission of sins' was added. D05:19
So to the race which is the purpose of this meeting... E16:164
I could hear Max and Elaine and then Alison; so instead of lying back again ... N13:139
Labour outvoted - so a tory gets the chair. A28:89
... because she is a woman, and so couldn't become a rival. F12:93
And so her story ends. F24:172
Not one of them kissed you so - and so - and so ... P13:69
He should deliberately so conduct himself that ... J49:166
It was never in fact constructed so ... D02:66
He looked so like a small boy ... L07:141
... the threat is so near home. G76:112
I do so hope that ... C17:152
I'd so looked forward to getting away with you alone. P23:9
He seemed so amazed when I suggested marriage to her. P06:115
Now once more the house of the Lord was being built, if not entirely finished, so was it suitable that they should still observe the fast? D11:17
You probably think the oil is ignited with the petrol vapour in the cylinder, so how can you lubricate an engine with smoke? R07:28
You know I can't live without you so promise me you will. P22:144
Just as there is no specific cure for eczema, so there is no one specific cause. F31:122
If Leavis needed to teach me a healthy disrespect for a good number of poems in the Oxford Book of English Verse before he could demonstrate just why the other poems in it were worth reading, so Snow's impetuous scoffing at certain political and literary windbags would be clearing a space in my mind for Tolstoi. G34:134


and so on, and so forth (RB RB" RB")


so as to (TO TO" TO")

QL is the largest, and least problematic, category; it was assigned before adjectives, adverbs, and quantifiers (so little, so many, so much). Note that the 'degree' sense is also found with RB; see examples above where so 'qualifies' verb forms and prepositional phrases. As regards the sequences so far as and so long as, see above under 'idioms'.

PN is also a straightforward category. It was assigned where so is a and occupies a nominal slot in the sentence. But so often occupies positions which cannot be held by related pronouns (see also some of the examples above): in so doing, is so called, if it so wished, where the context so admits, when so disposed, they were so convinced (=convinced that it was so), etc. PN was assigned provided that there was a possible paraphrase with so in a clearly nominal position. When so occupies an adverbial slot, the tag chosen was RB; note the examples above where so is used in the sense 'in this manner'. The status is uncertain in the example with so the verger described (listed under PN).

The principal problem is distinguishing CS (=so that) and RB (=therefore, thus). The former tag was chosen were so introduces a clause and occurs in medial position (without a preceding punctuation mark or following a comma). RB was assigned to occurrences of so preceded by major punctuation marks (full stop, question mark, exclamation mark, semi-colon, dash). The motivation is that a subclause introduced by so cannot be placed in initial position. The degree of formal separation is parallelled by a characteristic difference in meaning. While the conjunction indicates a closer, more specific relationship (cause-result), the connection is more vague with the conjunct (cause-result or time).

Clause-initial so was also tagged RB in the sequence and so, in questions, before imperatives, and after as-clauses and if-clauses. CS was also used in the idiom so that (and a single occurrence of so as). See the examples above.

So tagged RB is quite a heterogeneous category, which overlaps with QL and PN as well as with CS. The meanings can be glossed in a variety of ways: 'to such a degree', 'in such a way', 'in this manner', 'therefore', 'thus', 'then'. Note, finally, RB in: indeed so, maybe so, quite so, so help me God, so to say, so to speak, even so, so what.

Further tags are found in hyphenated forms: so-called JJB, telephone so-and-so NN (F40:38), you so-and-so's NNS (A07:212), so-long UH.