Adaptive text with adverbs

What’s the best way to handle adverbs that immediately follow a verb with adaptive text? Here’s an example:

Check concentrating (this is the do not concentrate outside of combat rule): if combat status is peace: say "[We] [can] only concentrate in a combat situation." instead.

In perfect tense, we get:

Ideally, I could insert any adverb (not just “not”) into the right place no matter what the verb tense is. Is that even possible?

You could try a workaround like this – you’re going to need two separate substitutions, because Inform would have no way of telling when the adverb ends (compare “[We] [can] really only concentrate in a combat situation”).

Thanks! I’m glad to see so much attention has been given to the matter.

I wonder if there is a need for a post-Plurality extension (Temporality?) that can do more serious verbal gymnastics for people who want to write extensions that play well in every tense.

Other things I’d want to see in such an extension:

add [will] as a modal verb like [would], [could], etc., e.g. “[We] [will have] to get the [noun] first.”

Force verbs to be progressive even if we’re in a perfect tense, e.g. “[Regarding the noun][Those] [adapt to be unable to in progressive tense] be opened.” - actually I can’t think of any reason why this shouldn’t be the default behavior for “can’t,” “cannot”, “won’t”, etc, and maybe “can” as well.

I have no suggestion for your actual problem, but I would say that the example sentence is misleading: I would write “[We] [can] concentrate only in a combat situation.” Your sentence could be read as saying that concentrating is the only thing we can do in a combat situation, rather than what you meant to say, that combat is the only time we are allowed to concentrate. Luckily, this formulation avoids the problem in the first place!

But you’ll probably encounter the same problem in other situations, so matt w’s link is probably useful. Apparently English grammar is hard and complicated!

I see what you’re saying, zahariel, but I think “You can only concentrate in…” sounds more natural. Sometimes precise English formulations sound stilted.

In fact, if it really did mean “Concentrating is the only thing you can do in combat situations,” I would be confused. Part of it is context. Compare these:

The first case is unambiguous. The second case should be clear according to a strict parsing, but in fact it is confusing because of our expectations about how things should work.