‘slow and toilsome“ or "slowly and toilsomely"

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Essentially it never is inherited,but always acquired by processes often slow and toilsome and at great price.
This sentense is written by a famous writer,but I don't know why he use "slow and toilsome" while "slowly and toilsomely".Isn't "slow and toilsome" used to modify "acquired"?
  • xqby

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    No, they modify "processes." It's a contracted way of saying "... acquired by processes which are often slow and toilsome."


    Senior Member
    British English

    I think that in this sentence "slow and toilsome" could refer to the processes.

    You're right that there's a mistake somewhere here, though - if "slow and toilsome" are indeed adjectives modifying "processes", then the use of "and" before "at great price" is wrong, since it is an adverb modifying "acquire". You can only use and to link adjectives or adverbs that modify the same word.
    As far as I can see, correct versions would be "...but always acquired by processes often slow and toilsome(,) at great price." or "...but always acquired slowly, toilsomely and at great price." Toilsomely is a clumsy word, though, so I prefer the first alternative.

    Edit: I see another internpretation, though I don't like it much either:

    "by processes often slow and toilsome" and "at great price" are two adverbial phrases modifying acquire. (That means they can quite happily be joined by "and").

    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I think 'and' is okay there. It's coordinating the two preposition phrases that separately modify 'acquired':

    acquired [[by processes often slow and toilsome] and [at great price]]

    By the way, which great writer? You need to tell use the source of the quotation.
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