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Adjective/adverb confusion | Worked example

Watch David work through a adjective-adverb use question from the Praxis Core Writing test. 

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] Henry Professor Longhair Byrd, a profound skilled New Orleans blues pianist with a distinctive, raspy singing voice, claimed that he developed his playing style by learning to play on an abandoned piano, missing several keys that had been left in an alley. Alright, so for this error ID question the first thing I want to do is take out unnecessary descriptors, comma-bounded descriptive phrases, and relative clauses like that have been left in an alley. Let's cross out missing several keys. For now, the sentence ends at an abandoned piano. Let's go backwards through these. So no error, well, we'll come back to that. See if there is an error. Abandoned piano. Is abandoned being used correctly to describe piano? Abandoned is an adjective. Piano is a noun. This checks out. This seems like proper usage. Claimed that. Okay, so that, is that the appropriate word to use here? Well, claimed that is a conventional expression. It launches into this other clause. He developed, right. Claimed that he developed. So that's appropriately used, the word that, I mean. Now the question of claimed. And we see that claimed, which is in the past tense, matches developed, which is also in the past tense. I'm gonna give this one an okay. Which brings us to profound skilled. No sometimes you'll see two adjectives with a comma between them. Sometimes not. And if there a comma between them you could say, oh, his nickname is Professor, maybe he is a profound comma skilled New Orleans blues pianist. But I don't actually think that's what's going on here, because there is no comma. And because these adjectives also don't stack on each other the way that like big blue ball might, right. The ball is big. The ball is blue. But that goes into a whole big thing about adjective order that isn't really relevant for our purposes right now. What I think is going on here is that profound is describing how skilled he was, not the profundity of his playing or the profundity of his person, but rather the profoundness of his skill, right. Like how skilled he was, very deep. And if that's the case, then this an adjective-adverb confusion. Cause if we're describing the word skilled with profound, then it can't be profound. It needs to be profoundly, an adverb rather than an adjective. And so I'm going to claim that this is our answer and to confirm it, let's just take a look at this comma. So here's Henry Professor Longhair Byrd comma. Here's a whole descriptive aside saying who he was. If there weren't an underline in here, I would have crossed this off at the beginning of this video. So we've got another comma. So this is a comma-bounded descriptive aside. This comma is being used correctly. So this is adjective-adverb confusion. It's using an adjective when it ought to be using an adverb. And the reason that we know this, and this is very subtle, is because there's no comma here. So when you're reading a sentence and you see something underlined and it looks like there's an adjective describing a verb as in he was rich rewarded instead of richly, or she bolted sharp to the door instead of sharply. So that's adjectives instead of adverbs, but consider now instead adverbs instead of adjectives. Like Clara Schumann was a famously pianist too. And we would want to take out that L-Y, because really it should say famous pianist. Famous is describing pianist, just like richly is describing rewarded, just like sharply is describing bolted. These are very context dependent, right. And sometimes they can turn on as little as a missing comma, but it is a type of question to be aware of and to watch out for.