Adverbs

In this lesson we will learn adverbs. So, what is an adverb?

Definition | Meaning

An adverb is a word that modifies a verb, an adjective or another adverb.

Examples

  • The nightingale sang (verb) sweetly (adverb).
  • The solider marched (verb) smartly (adverb).
  • He owns very (adverb) expensive (adjective) car.
  • The traffic moved quite (adverb) slowly (adverb) down the road.

Types of Adverbs

There are seven main kinds of adverbs, their list as follows:

  1. Adverbs of Degree
  2. Adverbs of Time
  3. Adverbs of Place
  4. Adverbs of Manner
  5. Adverbs of Frequency
  6. Interrogative Adverbs
  7. Relative Adverbs

Use of Adverbs

Adverbs make sentences more informative. They are used for following purposes.

To say “how” for example:

  • The dog barked loudly.

To say “when” for example:

  • Nina’s grandfather arrived yesterday.

To say “where” for example:

  • The children are playing outside.

To say “how often” for example:

  • Marina attends school regularly.

To make the meaning of an adjective, an adverb or a verb stronger or weaker for example:

  • The day was extremely cold.
  • Her teacher scolded him mildly.

Adverbs which modify verbs

Many adverbs end with the suffix – “ly“.  Most of these are created by adding “ly” at the end of an adjective, like;

Adjective            Adverb

slow                         slowly
beautiful                 beautifully
careless                   carelessly

However, this is NOT a reliable way to find out whether a word is an adverb or not, for reasons: Many adverbs do NOT end in “ly” – (some are the same as their adjective forms), and many words which are NOT adverb Do end in “ly” (such as kindly, friendly, elderly and lonely, which are pure adjectives).

Here are some examples of adverbs which are the same as adjectives:

Adjective            Adverb

fast                           fast
late                           late
early                         early

Understanding Adverbs

The best way to tell if a word is an adverb is to try framing a question, for which the answer is the word. If the question uses how, where or when – then the word is probably an adverb.

Let’s Practice

Example #1

Word in context:
Sania plays tennis swiftly.

Question:
How does Sania play tennis?

Adverb or not:
Yes, uses “how”.

Example #2

Word in context:
They have a small car.

Question:
What kind of car do they have?

Adverb or not:
No, uses “What Kind of“, so this is an adjective Not adverb.

Example #3

Word in context:
The manager called the police immediately.

Question:
When did the manager call the police?

Adverb or not:
Yes, uses “When”.

The most frequently used adverbs are too, so, really and very. In fact, these words are often overworked. To make your English speaking and writing more interesting, replace these general adverbs with more specific ones, such as completely, especially, pretty and quite.

Adverbs of Time

Definition

An adverb of time tells us the time when an action took place. To identify it we can ask a question starting with “when”.

For Example:

  • Eat your lunch now.
  • I have never worked before.
  • I will go the the library tomorrow.

In the above examples the following words are “adverbs of time”: now, before and tomorrow.

Adverb of Time Word List

  • late
  • just
  • next
  • soon
  • now
  • still
  • later
  • today
  • nights
  • tonight
  • finally
  • mornings
  • evenings
  • already
  • recently
  • tomorrow
  • afternoons
  • currently
  • yesterday
  • eventually
  • afterwards

Adverb of Time – Examples

  1. She came yesterday.
  2. The cargo finally arrived.
  3. Rosy represented her team then.
  4. Afterwards he was sorry for what he had done.
  5. He is planning to visit us tomorrow.
  6. She will be playing the match today.
  7. Peter eventually learnt to solve the sums.
  8. I will be going to the mountains soon.
  9. Steve has already been to the show.
  10. Doctor Marina is still in the operation theater.

Adverb of Place

Definition

An adverb of place tells us where the action was carried out. To identify it we can ask a question starting with “where”.

For Example:

  • There was snow everywhere.
  • Shiny did not want to go there.

In the above examples the following words are “adverbs of place”: everywhere, and there.

Adverb of Place Word List

  • here
  • there
  • home
  • abroad
  • outside
  • nowhere
  • anywhere
  • aside
  • elsewhere
  • upstairs
  • somewhere
  • underground
  • northwards
  • westwards
  • eastwards
  • southwards
  • upwards

Many adverbs of place also function as prepositions:

  • up
  • by
  • off
  • in
  • next
  • over
  • besides
  • across
  • under
  • behind
  • around

Grammar Fact

Adverbs of place are usually placed after the main verb or after the object.

Examples – after the main verb

  • The cat looked away/up/down/around.
  • I’m going home/out/back.

Examples – after the object

  • They built a hut nearby.
  • He took the child outside.

Examples – Adverb of Place

  1. Noddy stayed here for a week.
  2. We could not find John anywhere.
  3. Miss James has just gone out.
  4. The painter painted the picture there.
  5. We are going abroad next month.
  6. Mary stays upstairs.

Adverbs of Manner

Definition

Most adverbs of manner are closely related to the corresponding adjectives. Although some words can be used as either adjectives or adverbs, in most cases, adverbs of manner are formed by adding “ly” to the corresponding adjectives. To identify them we can ask a question starting with “how” or “in what manner“.

Spelling Rules for adding “ly”

In most cases, ‘ly‘ is simply added to the positive form of the adjective.

Examples

Adjective                            Adverb of Manner

bad                                          badly
complete                                completely
normal                                   normally
surprising                              surprisingly

Adjectives ending in ‘ic’

When the adjective ends in “ic“, the syllable ‘al’ is usually added before the “ly” ending.

Examples

Adjective                             Adverb of Manner

dramatic                              dramatically
scientific                              scientifically
specific                                 specifically

Adjectives ending in ‘le’

When the adjective ends in “le” preceded by a consonant, the final “e” is usually changed to “y“, to form the “ly” ending.

Examples

Adjective                             Adverb of Manner

favorable                                  favorably
humble                                     humbly
simple                                       simply

When the adjective ends in “le” or “de” preceded by a vowel, in most cases, “ly” is simply added to the positive form of the adjective.

Examples

Adjective                             Adverb of Manner

agile                                          agilely
sole                                           solely
wide                                          widely

Exception!

In the case of the adjective whole, the final “e” is removed before the suffix “ly” is added.

Adjective                             Adverb of Manner

whole                                        wholly

Adjectives ending in “ll”

When the adjective ends in “ll“, only “y” is added.

Examples

Adjective                              Adverb of Manner

dull                                            dully
full                                             fully
Shrill                                         shrilly

Adjectives ending in “ue”

When the adjective ends in “ue“, the final “e” is usually omitted before the suffix “ly” is added.

Examples

Adjective                             Adverb of Manner

due                                           duly
true                                          truly

Adjectives ending in “y”

When the adjective ends in “y” preceded by a consonant, the “y” is usually changed to “i” before the suffix “ly” is added.

Examples

Adjective                             Adverb of Manner

busy                                          busily
easy                                           easily
happy                                        happily

Exception!

In the case of the adjectives shy and sly, the suffix “ly” is simply added to the positive form of the adjective.

Adjective                              Adverb of Manner

shy                                             shyly
sly                                              slyly

When the adjective ends in “y” preceded by a vowel, in most cases, the suffix “y” is simply added to the positive form of the adjective.

Examples

Adjective                                Adverb of Manner

coy                                          coyly
grey                                         greyly

Examples – Adverb of Manner

  1. Mandy sings sweetly.
  2. The little boy behaved naughtily.
  3. Mr. John can quickly solve crossword puzzles.
  4. The dark horse ran swiftly.
  5. The boy played the guitar loudly.

Adverbs of Degree

Definition

An adverb of degree tells us to what degree, extent or intensity something happens. To identify it we can ask a question starting with “how much”.

Examples

  • The poor man was terribly hungry.
  • A cheetah runs extremely fast.

In the above examples the following words are “adverbs of degree”: terribly and extremely.

Adverb of Degree Word List

  • too
  • very
  • so
  • quite
  • almost
  • really
  • greatly
  • highly
  • totally
  • hugely
  • enough
  • extremely
  • perfectly
  • gratefully
  • partially
  • immensely
  • adequately

Examples – Adverb of Degree

  1. The dinner was absolutely delicious.
  2. Mark knows me quite well.
  3. The lamp was too hot to touch.
  4. She hardly goes to religious places.
  5. Cheryl is highly skilled operator.

Adverb of Frequency

Definition

An adverb of frequency tells us how often an action is carried out. To identify it we can ask a question starting with “how often”.

Remember:
These adverbs are usually placed after or before the simple tenses.

Adverb of Frequency Word List

  • daily
  • often
  • rarely
  • weekly
  • monthly
  • annually
  • always
  • seldom
  • normally
  • regularly
  • generally
  • frequently
  • sometimes
  • occasionally
  • periodically
  • hardly
  • ever
  • almost
  • never

Examples – Adverb of Frequency

  1. We sometimes meet them.
  2. He is always present.
  3. I am generally at home in the mornings.
  4. They should often visit them.
  5. I exercise regularly.
  6. The flight is seldom late.
  7. I usually like to have porridge for breakfast.
  8. Peter could never win a prize.
  9. Cyrus appears on the channel frequently.
  10. The train is normally on time.

In the above examples the following words are “adverbs of frequency”: sometimes, always, generally, often, and regularly, seldom, usually, never, frequently and normally.

Relative Adverbs

A relative adverb modifies a noun or a whole sentence. “When”, “where”, “why” and “how” are relative adverbs.

Practice with Examples

  1. I remember the day when we first met.
  2. Tell me why you looking so scared.
  3. The street where I live is congested.
  4. I don’t know how they arrived.
  5. I know the date when my great grandfather was born.
  6. That is the ground where the cricket match is going to be held.
  7. The reason why he left the school is not known.
  8. I shall tell you about the shop where you will find a lot of books.

In the above examples the following words are ” relative adverbs”: when, why, where, how, when, where, why and where.

Interrogative Adverbs

An interrogative adverb is simply used to ask questions.

Examples

  1. When is the school reopening?
  2. Why don’t we go for a walk?
  3. Where have you been?
  4. How can I help you?
  5. How much does the bag weigh?
  6. How many pencils do you have?

In the above examples the highlighted words with purple colour are “interrogative adverbs”.

More About Adverbs

Adverbs which modify adjectives or other adverbs usually come just before the words they modify.

For Example

  1. The tower is extremely tall.
    extremely: Adverb
    tall: Adjective
  2. The Robinsons’ had a badly damaged house after the storm.
    badly: Adverb
    damaged: Adjective
  3. Chelsa proudly displayed her carefully embroidered sheet.
    carefully: Adverb
    embroidered: Adjective
  4. The furniture that they sell is fairly sturdy.
    fairly: Adverb
    sturdy: Adjective

Exceptions!

Some adverbs of manner, place, time and frequency have the same forms as the corresponding adjectives.

Examples

Adjective                                     Adverbs of Manner

fast                                                      fast
hard                                                    hard
little                                                    little
far                                                       far
low                                                      low
near                                                    near
early                                                   early
long                                                    long
daily                                                   daily
weekly                                               weekly
yearly                                                 yearly

Adverb-Degree of Comparison

Adverbs are often used to make the meaning of a verb or another adverb stronger or weaker. This is known as ‘degrees of comparison’.

What are they?

The positive degree is the simple form of the adverb: slowly, early.
For example: The old man walked slowly.

The comparative degree is used to compare two actions: slower, more slowly, and earlier.
For example: The tortoise walked slower than the hare.

The superlative degree is used to compare three or more actions: slowest, earliest.
For example: They all take their time, but Robert works the slowest of all.

In general, comparative and superlative forms of adverbs are the same as for adjectives:

Add -er or -est to adverbs:

Adverb ComparativeSuperlative
hardharderthe hardest
cheapcheaperthe cheapest
fastfasterthe fastest

Examples

  • Simi works harder than her brother.
  • Everyone in the race ran fast, but Catherine ran the fastest of all.

For adverbs ending in –ly, we use more for the comparative and most for the superlative degree:

Adverb ComparativeSuperlative
quietlymore quietlymost quietly
carefullymore carefullymost carefully
seriouslymore seriouslymost seriously

Examples

  • The guide spoke more clearly to help us understand.
  • Could you sit more quietly please?

Some adverbs have irregular comparative forms:

Adverb ComparativeSuperlative
badlyworseworst
farfarther/furtherfarthest/furthest
littlelessleast
well/goodbetterbest

Examples

  • The naughty sheep ran further than its flock.
  • Today you are reciting worse than last week!

Exceptions!

Sometimes ‘most‘ can mean ‘very‘:

  • We were most grateful for your help.
  • I am most impressed with this application.

Adverbs may function as intensifiers, conveying a greater or lesser emphasis to something. Intensifiers have three different functions. They can emphasize, amplify or tone down.

Examples

  1. I really don’t believe you.
  2. He literally wasted his father’s money.
  3. She simply hates non vegetarian food.
  4. They’re surely going to be on time.
  5. He spoke quite firmly to him.
  6. They almost forgot about the function.
  7. The judge completely rejected her appeal.
  8. I absolutely refuse to attend any more late night parties.
  9. They heartily endorsed the new line of clothes.
  10. I somewhat like this idea.
  11. The ship was literally ruined by the storm.

Adverbs and Adjectives

Adverbs and adjectives have some common characteristics. However, an important difference between the two is that adverbs do NOT modify nouns.

For Example:

  • Adjective
    Maggie is a happy child. (✓)
    Maggie is happy. (✓)
  • Adverb
    Maggie is happily child. (X)
    Maggie is happily. (X)

The following words (with their comparative and superlative forms) can be both adverbs and adjectives: early, fast, hard, late.

Let us use ‘early‘ both as an adjective and adverb:

  • Adjective
    I’ll catch the early bus.
  • Adverb
    I woke up early this morning to catch the bus.

The comparative ‘better’ and the superlative ‘best’ as well as some words denoting time intervals (daily, weekly, monthly), can also be adverbs or adjectives.

Flat Adverbs

Adjective that do not change form (or add -ly) to become adverbs are called flat adverbs.

Examples

  • early
  • late
  • hard
  • fast
  • long
  • high
  • low
  • deep
  • near

To decide whether these words are functioning as adjectives or adverbs, we must find out:

  1. What the word is describing (noun or verb).
  2. What question the word is answering.

Examples

‘Early’ as an adjective:

  • Hercule Potter caught an early train to his hometown.
    ‘Early’ describes the noun ‘train’ and answers the question “which?”

‘Early’ as an adverb:

  • Sam arrived early the next day.
    ‘Early’ describes the verb ‘arrived’ and answers the question “when?”

‘Hard’ as and adjective:

  • He is a very hard taskmaster.
    ‘Hard’ describes the noun ‘taskmaster’ and answers the question “what kind?”

‘Hard’ as an adverb:

  • The master made the slave work hard.
    ‘Hard’ describes the verb ‘work’ and answering the question “how?”

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