Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Four in One

I did a remote broadcast with Lew Gatch at WMKV-fm in Cincinnati this afternoon. A caller asked, “How many words can exist as four parts of speech—noun, verb, adjective and adverb?”

The word bank came to mind immediately.

  • The bank closes at 5:00 p.m. [n.]
  • You can bank on me. [v.]
  • The bank shot is very effective in basketball. [adj.]

But that was the end of the line. There is no bank as adverb. That’s true of perhaps hundreds of words, because most adverbs end in –ly, thus breaking the sequence.

I haven’t given this a lot of thought, but four words now come to mind: fast, last, right, and well.


  • Fast is built into sports cars.
  • A shoemaker must have a last.
  • A right must be protected.
  • Timmy fell into the well.


  • Fast for twelve hours before the procedure.
  • Good furniture will last for centuries.
  • Please right that chair before someone trips over it.
  • When I’m sad, tears well up.


  • Fast solutions don’t always work.
  • He was the last man standing.
  • Do the right thing.
  • That’s all well and good, but what about the cost?.


  • Run fast.
  • When I last looked, he was sleeping.
  • Stop right here.
  • She works well with others.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Check out Mike's program-based books here:

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.

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