The Taxonomy of the Functional and Structural Uses of Adverbs in Business Letter Writing in English

Jeyaseelan Gnanaseelan


This research analyses the types of the functional and structural uses of adverbs in letter writing in English revealing the linguistic and non-linguistic implications in both teaching and learning in the South Asian countries like Sri Lanka. It synthesizes, classifies and describes the types, functions, positions, quantity and quality and deviations. This is a case study of the texts produced by the students from Tamil and Sinhala language communities of Vavuniya Campus of the University of Jaffna in Sri Lanka. The analysis is both quantitative and qualitative. The findings distinguish the patterns and pragmatic uses typical of a non-native ESL learning context. It finds out that structurally prepositional phrase and single-word and functionally, time, place and manner dominate as adverbs in the use. The inefficient and ineffective use of noun phrase, adverb particle, adverbial clause, and sentence adverb, the learner incompetence of the distinction between adverb and the rest of the linguistic units, within their types and within their functions were identified and suggests a curriculum design or teaching methodology to incorporate this distinction.   



Adverb, adverbial phrase, structure, function, position

Full Text:



Al-Baghdadi, S. Sattar, (2003).The Achievement of College Students in Using And Placing Single–Word Adverbs in Their Appropriate Position. Baghdad: Al-Mustansirya University College of Arts. Retrieved Feb 6 2016 from

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, (2011). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Fifth Edition.

Baskervill, W. M. & Sewell, J. W. (1896). An English Grammar. Longman. Gmbh Hamburg, Germany

Collins COBUILD English Usage. (2013). Princeton: HarperCollins Publishers. Princeton University, Farlex Inc.

Collins Thesaurus of the English Language. (2002). HarperCollins Publishers.

Crystal, D., (1980). A First Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Delfitto, D. (2006). Adverb classes and adverb placement. In M. Everaert & H. van Riemsdijk (Eds.), The Blackwell companion to syntax (83-120). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. Retrieved Feb 6 2016 from

Dissosway, P., & Hartford, B. (1984). Errors and adverbs: What we teach and what ESL students actually do. Paper presented at annual meeting of teachers of English to speakers of other languages. Houston, TX. Retrieved Feb 6 2016 from

Eastwood, J. (1999). Oxford Practice Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Eckersley, C.E. and J.M. Eckersley, (1966). A Comprehensive English Grammar for Foreign Students, London, Longmans, Green and Co., Ltd

Finch, G., (2000). Linguistic Terms and Concepts. London: Macmillan press LTD

Gnanaseelan, J. (2014). A Corpus Analysis of the Prepositions used in Letter Writing in English. Research Chronicler. Vol.II. Issue III. ISSN 2347-503X. pp.1-15. Retrieved Feb 6 2016 from

Hernández. M. S. (2006). The position of adverbs in English: Trying to solve a major problem most language learners usually face. Filología y Linguística, 32(1), 271-285. Retrieved Feb 6 2016 from

Hewings, M. (2005). Advanced grammar in use: A self-study reference and practice book for advanced learners of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved Feb 6 2016 from

Jacobson, S. (1964). Adverbial positions in English. Stockholm: AB Student book.

Kabashi, J. (2000). English “Grammar: Morphology. Prishtina: The University of Prishtina.

Koffi, E. (2010). Applied English syntax: Foundations for word, phrase and sentence analysis. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company. Retrieved Feb 6 2016 from

Macaulay, R. (2002). Extremely interesting, very interesting, or only quite interesting? Adverbs and social class. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 6(3), 398-417. Retrieved Feb 6 2016 from

Nuhiu, Majlinda. (2014). Morphological contrastive analysis of adverbs in English and Albanian language. European Journal of Research on Education, Special Issue: Contemporary Studies in Education, 98-102. ISSN: 2147-6284. E-journal 2013. Retrieved Feb 6 2016 from

Pérez-Paredes, P., & Díez-Bedmar, M. B. (2012). The use of intensifying adverbs in learner writing. In Y. Tono, Y. Kawaguchi, & M. Minegishi (Eds.), Developmental and cross linguistic perspectives in learner corpus research (105-133). Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Retrieved Feb 6 2016 from

Rutledge, James and Fitton, Zachary (2015). "Teaching ESL Students Adverb Position to Develop Rhetorical Emphasis," Linguistic Portfolios: Vol. 4, Article 12. Retrieved Feb 6 2016 from

Thomson, A.J. and A.V. Martinet, (1980). A Practical English Grammar, 3 rd. ed., Oxford University Press

Quirk, R. and Greenbawm, S. (1990). A Student’s Grammar of the English Language, Longman.

Zi-hong, Z. (2010). The syntactic positions of adverbs and the second language acquisition. Sino-US English Teaching, 7(9), 48-54. Retrieved Feb 6 2016 from



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.