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4.6: §30. Latin Adverbs

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  • As a postscript to our study of Latin adjectives, we shall take no more than a cursory glance at several Latin adverbs. If one were learning the Latin language, more attention to this topic would be needed; but the Latin adverb, as it happens, is one part of speech that has had very little impact on English.

    English distinguishes between the adjective good (“We ate a good dinner”) and its corresponding adverb, well (“We ate well”). To say “We ate good” is still considered a mark of ignorance—though our ears are constantly bombarded with such statements as “Walker hit that ball real good.” Latin made a grammatical distinction between the adjective bonus (“good”) and its adverb counterpart, bene (“well”). Malus (“bad”) also had its corresponding adverb, male (“badly”). These two adverbs, bene and male, are among the relatively few in Latin that significantly affect English vocabulary (Chapter 14, §94).

    The following English words were originally Latin adverbs. In some cases, they are now used as adjectives or nouns; and their meanings may differ from the ETYMOLOGICAL MEANINGS given here. You will find further examples in the Exercises (§32).

    alibi “elsewhere,” “in another place” item “likewise”
    verbatim “word for word” [Medieval Lat.] tandem “at last,” “at length”
    gratis “free of charge” versus (vs.) “turned toward,” “facing”
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