Viewpoint Adverbs

Definition

Viewpoint adverbs are often confused with evaluative adverbs. Although they are similar in form, and the specific adverbs used can overlap, the two actually serve different functions. While evaluative adverbs are used to give an opinion, viewpoint adverbs are used to indicate whose point of view we are expressing, or to specify what aspect of something we are talking about. They modify an entire sentence or independent clause.

Indicating point of view

Many common viewpoint adverbs are actually adverbials, or groups of words that function together as an adverb. Here are some common viewpoint adverbs and adverbials for indicating whose point of view we are expressing:
  • according to me/you/him/her/them
  • as far as I/you/he/she/they am/is/are concerned
  • in my/your/his/her/their opinion
  • in my/your/his/her/their view
  • to my/your/his/her/their knowledge
  • from my/your/his/her/their perspective
  • from my/your/his/her/their point of view
  • personally
We can use these viewpoint adverbs and adverbials to express who supports the statement. For example:
  • In my opinion, you shouldn’t go to that party.” (I believe you shouldn’t go to that party.)
  • According to my sister, I have a fantastic sense of humor.” (My sister thinks I have a fantastic sense of humor.)
  • To my teacher’s knowledge, my homework has been eaten by a dog.” (My teacher believes that my homework has been eaten by a dog.)
  • Personally, I don’t believe it’s true.” (My own personal opinion is that it isn’t true.)

Specifying an aspect of something

We also use specific viewpoint adverbs to delimit, or specify, what part or aspect of something we are talking about. These adverbs are often called domain adverbs, and are almost limitless. Some examples are:
  • biologically
  • environmentally
  • ideologically
  • industrially
  • financially
  • formally
  • inwardly
  • linguistically
  • mathematically
  • medically
  • morally
  • officially
  • outwardly
  • physically
  • politically
  • scientifically
  • technically
  • theoretically
  • visually
For example:
  • Biologically, insects are some of the most amazing creatures on the planet.” (From a biological point of view, insects are amazing.)
  • Industrially, 19th-century London was the most advanced city in the world.” (19th-century London was the most advanced city in terms of industry.)
  • Officially, we’re not allowed to sit here.” (According to official rules, we are not allowed to sit here.)
For variety, we can also adapt the above adverbs into adverbial phrases with no change in meaning. We can use the following patterns:
  • adverb + “speaking”
  • “in terms of” + noun
  • “in” + adjective + “terms”
  • “from a” + adjective + “point of view”
  • “as far as” + noun + “is concerned”
For example:
  • Biologically speaking, insects are some of the most amazing creatures on the planet.”
  • In terms of biology, insects are some of the most amazing creatures on the planet.”
  • In biological terms, insects are some of the most amazing creatures on the planet.”
  • From a biological point of view, insects are some of the most amazing creatures on the planet.”
  • As far as biology is concerned, insects are some of the most amazing creatures on the planet.”

Sentence Placement

As we’ve seen in the examples above, viewpoint adverbs usually appear at the beginning of the clause, followed by a comma. However, they can also appear at the end of the clause. For example:
  • “You shouldn’t go to that party, in my opinion.”
  • “I don’t believe it's true, personally.”
  • “19th -century London was the most advanced city in the world, industrially.”
  • “Insects are some of the most amazing creatures on the planet, biologically speaking.”
Note that whether they appear at the beginning or the end, they are set apart from the rest of the clause by a comma.
Viewpoint adverbs can appear in other positions in the sentence, but this is less common. If we place a viewpoint adverb in mid position, we should be sure to double check the readability of the sentence, and always set it apart from the rest of the clause between two commas.
For example:
  • “You shouldn’t, in my opinion, go to that party.”
  • “Insects are, in terms of biology, some of the most amazing creatures on the planet.”
  • “We are not, in official terms, allowed to sit here.”
  • “19th-century London was, industrially, the most advanced city in the world.”
Quiz

1. Viewpoint adverbs are often used to indicate __________________.





2. Viewpoint adverbs must be separated from the rest of the clause by a ________.





3. Which of the following sentences is punctuated correctly?





4. Complete the following sentence:
“In scientific ________, humans are mammals.”





5. Complete the following sentence:
“________ my knowledge, he is at home.”





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