I'm reading a paper about linguistics when it comes to learning a second language. I came across this sentence:


I have tried searching for a definition of 動詞修飾副詞 but can't come up with anything, and my grasp on grammar is pretty weak to begin with so it's not ringing any bells. I literally break down the compound to mean "verb" + "modify" + "adverb", which still doesn't make sense to me as I'm not aware of any adverbs that modify verbs, but again, my grammar knowledge isn't up to snuff. Would appreciate any ideas on this to learn this concept, thanks.

  • 2
    > "I'm not aware of any adverbs that modify verbs" - isn't that the whole point of adverbs?
    – Blavius
    Jan 18, 2016 at 21:33
  • @Blavius As I said, I'm weak with grammar. Your comment doesn't help answer my question above, but thanks for pointing it out.
    – Leila
    Jan 18, 2016 at 21:41
  • 1
    Just looking at it suggests it means adverbs that modify verbs specifically rather than adverbs in general (since 'adverb' is often used as kind of a junk bin category); but I'm going on nothing other than the fact that that's what I would assume a word made of those parts means.
    – Sjiveru
    Jan 18, 2016 at 22:47
  • 1
    @Blavius It's one of the things adverbs do, but the core idea behind the traditional adverb category is 'modifier of other than noun', not 'modifier of verb'. In Japanese school grammar, adverbs are non-inflecting words that cannot be subjects and mainly modify inflecting words. See this chart.
    – user1478
    Jan 18, 2016 at 23:35
  • @Leila It'd be great if you could include a little more information in your questions. What linguistics paper? What is the context of this sentence? It might be possible to answer this question without knowing these things, but including some context will make your questions easier to follow and answer.
    – user1478
    Jan 19, 2016 at 0:06

2 Answers 2


Yes and no, I would say.

'Yes', in the sense that the term seems to exist, and 'no', in the sense that it is not a very commonly-used term. In fact, this is probably the first time I have heard the term 「[動詞修飾副詞]{どうししゅうしょくふくし}」. The only reason that the term "feels" kind of familiar despite the fact that I may not have heard it before would be that its meaning is completely self-explanatory -- 「動詞を修飾する副詞」

Assuming that you are talking about Japanese grammar, the far more common term is 「[状態副詞]{じょうたいふくし}」. Those are adverbs that mostly, if not exclusively, modify verbs such as 「やっと」、「すぐに」、「わざわざ」, etc. These adverbs describe how one performs an action, how something happens, etc.

状態副詞 do not modify adjectives. There may be exceptional cases but I could not think of one at the moment. It would be super-rare.


As pointed out in the comments, most 副詞 (adverb) modify verbs (e.g., "run fast", "しばらく眠る"; Adverbs indicated with bold). You don't usually have to use such a term as 動詞修飾副詞 (≒"verb-modifying adverb") when you casually talk about grammar in a site like this.

However, some adverbs modify adjectives (e.g., "surprisingly cheap", "とても大きい"). Some adverbs modifies following sentences as a whole (this is known as 文副詞; see this). Some adverbs modifies other adverbs (e.g., "It's very easily done", where very is an adverb which modifies easily which is another adverb).

So, when the common, verb-modifying adverbs are discussed in contrast with other types of adverbs, 動詞修飾副詞 would be a natural way to refer to the verb-modifying ones.

動詞修飾副詞 sounds closer to "verb-modifying adverb", while 動詞を修飾する副詞 literally means "adverb that modifies verb" — both refer to the same thing. When this idea is discussed repeatedly, or when the author thinks this is a common idea (if not an established term), then particles like を tends to be omitted. Also see this.

  • I thought 副詞 referred to a part of speech (品詞), i.e., a group of lexicalized words, as opposed to 連用修飾語, which refers to the set of words which function as modifiers. That'd make 「上手に」 and 「美しく」 be 連用修飾語 but not 副詞. So, I think the set 「動詞修飾副詞」 would similarly not contain such words, and instead only contain words like those in @l'électeur's answer. To confuse matters, in English, "adverb" also refers to a part of speech, but colloquially is used to mean "modifier" (i.e., the function), which is why many English speakers do call 「上手に」 etc. "adverbs" even though they aren't lexicalized. Jan 19, 2016 at 4:53
  • @DariusJahandarie Ah, you're correct. 速く in Japanese is not an adverb although it adverbially modifies the verb. I hope now it's fixed.
    – naruto
    Jan 19, 2016 at 10:25

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