Stance adverb phrases express the speaker’s attitude towards or judgment of the proposition that the sentence expresses. They provide additional context or color to the statement being made. “actually”, “unfortunately”, “of course” and “I’m sorry” are some of the most basic examples that we explain in this post.
Actually: This adverb is used to signal that what follows might be surprising or contrary to the listener’s expectation. Here are some sentences that use “actually” in an A2 sense to emphasize what is really true or what really happened:
- “I know you think I don’t like vegetables, but I actually enjoy eating broccoli.”
- “She actually won the lottery twice, not just once as most people believe.”
- “Despite the rumors, he actually graduated top of his class.”
- “It may seem like I’m always busy, but I actually have a lot of free time on weekends.”
- “They thought the concert was cancelled due to bad weather, but it actually went ahead as planned.”
In each of these sentences, “actually” is used to correct a misconception or emphasize the true situation. Here’s a real example:
Collocations of “fortunately” in the MOVIE corpus:
1 UNFORTUNATELY 30
2 DUE TO 14 (giving a reason)
The use of “unfortunately” indicates that the outcome was not what the speaker desired or expected.
3 NECESSARY 14
4 HOWEVER 13
In the context of the movie quote from “The Oxford Murders”, the term “unfortunately” is used to express regret or disappointment about the following statement. In this case, it’s expressing regret that the subsequent statement, “this has nothing to do with truth”, is the case. It suggests that the speaker wishes the situation were different, but acknowledges that it isn’t. The speaker is conveying that they wish the situation had something to do with truth, but it does not. This usage adds a layer of emotion to the statement, indicating the speaker’s feelings about the situation.
5 UNABLE 11
6 FORTUNATELY 9
7 RECEIVED 7
8 DISCOVERED 7
Of course: This is used to emphasize that something is not surprising, is to be expected, or is well known.
Collocates of “of course” in the MOVIE corpus:
1 YES 7371
2 UNLESS 698
“of course” is used to highlight an exception or to contradict a previous statement. In this case, it suggests that the previous statement or advice does not apply if one is trying to avoid household chores. It’s a way of saying “this is generally true, but here’s an obvious exception”. The use of “of course” adds a touch of humor or sarcasm to the sentence.
3 NATURALLY 81
4 JOKING 65
In this context, the speaker is implying that they thought it was clear they were joking and are surprised that clarification is needed.
5 PROVIDED 44
6 DELIGHTED 44
7 ASSUMING 31
8 PROVIDING 27
9 DUH 21
10 CONFIDENTIAL 21
I’m sorry: While not technically an adverb, this phrase is often used similarly to express regret or to soften a statement that might be unpleasant for the listener. For example, “I’m sorry, but we’re out of that item.”
TLC STUDENT SPEAKING TEST EXAMPLE:
female Mexico B1
male Spain B1
* The grammar is sometimes hidden under other grammar points. Also, there is a difference in meaning if the two clauses are separate expressions that may be better expressed with a comma between them.
In the English Grammar Profile, A2 point 34 in ADVERBS/modifiers is defined as:
STANCE: limited range (‘actually’, ‘unfortunately’, ‘of course’, ‘I’m sorry’) to indicate an attitude or viewpoint.
‘actually’ is A2 or higher in the English Vocabulary Profile regardless if it is ‘stance’ or not.
‘of course’ is A1 in the EVP if used to say ‘yes’ and emphasize your answer:
“Can you help me?” “Of course!”
Cambridge Learner Corpus Learner example:
Yes of course I can come.
And B1 if used to show that what you are saying is obvious or already known:
Of course, the Olympics are not just about money.
Cambridge Learner Corpus Learner example:
Of course, I met many new people.
EXPERT EXAMPLES with more context on webpages:
Here, “actually” is used to emphasize that showing students how grammar is applied is necessary for them to see its value. It suggests that simply telling students about grammar or teaching it in the abstract might not be enough—they need to see it in action.