Adverbs are a powerful tool in the writer’s arsenal, allowing you to modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs to create more nuanced and descriptive sentences. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of adverbs, exploring their different types, functions, and usage. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced writer, this article will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to use adverbs effectively and take your writing to the next level.

Key Takeaways

  • Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs to provide more detail.
  • Not all adverbs end with “-ly” which can make them harder to identify.
  • Proper use of adverbs enhances fluency in English.

What Is an Adverb?

English Adverbs: A Complete Grammar Guide

Adverb Definition

An adverb is a part of speech used to describe a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. It tells us how, where, when, how much, and with what frequency. In the example ‘she runs quickly‘, the verb in this sentence is runs, and this has been modified with the adverb quickly. They may also modify an adjective to add further information, such as ‘he is quite fat.” In this sentence, the adjective fat has been modified by the adverb quite. Finally, an adverb can be used to modify an entire sentence, for example ‘Luckily, I had enough money.’ In this example, we see that the adverb luckily modifies the rest of the sentence in its entirety.

For the most part, an adverb will end in the letters -ly, however, there are some exceptions to this such as the word fast, which appears exactly as the adjective counterpart for the word but serves as an adverb.

  • This is a fast car. (adjective)
  • This car can drive fast. (adverb)

In the first sentence, the word fast is used as an adjective, however, in the second, it is being used as an adverb. Let’s take a look at some further examples of adverbs within a sentence.

  • My sister swims badly.
  • The soccer match ended quickly.
  • Fortunately, my friends were not late for my birthday party.

As we mentioned, the adverb can be used to modify various types of words. We are now going to take a closer look at each of these and how it works.

Adverbs with Verbs

An adverb can be used to talk about how an action is happening. You might think about this as the adverb being used to answer the question “How does something happen?’ or ‘In what manner does it happen?’ Some examples of this are:

  • My dog barks loudly.
  • He will seriously think about this idea.

We can see here that the adverbs answer the questions ‘How does your dog bark?’ or ‘How will he think about this idea?’ In the most simple terms, if you want to find out how an action has been performed, an adverb will answer this.

It is important to remember that adverbs should not be used with a linking verb, examples of these might be to smell, to feel, to seem, to appear, or to taste. If you consider the following sentence you will see that the adverb does not fit and that an adjective might be more appropriate.

  • He feels terribly about the death of his aunt. (Incorrect)

We mentioned that adverbs describe how an action takes place but with a linking verb, it is required to describe what is taking place, for example, what he is feeling. This would mean that an adjective would work better, take a look:

  • He feels terrible about the death of his aunt. (Correct) 

Adverbs with Adjectives and Other Adverbs

An adverb also has the ability to modify either another adverb or an adjective. This is a great way to cause the adjective to become more intense and descriptive, giving a much more clear indication of what is being spoken about. Consider the phrase “he is tall.” The adjective here is tall, but with the use of an adverb, we can describe how tall he is. Look at the sentence once it has been modified:

  • He is very tall.

Here are some more examples of how an adverb can modify an adjective.

  • My sister is rather attractive.
  • The beach was unexpectedly busy.
  • My teacher is always well-dressed.

You might also use an adverb to modify another adverb, take a look at the following example:

  • The food here is almost never good.

The adverb almost is being used to modify the adverb never and both of these are being used to modify the word good.

When you are using an adverb with another adverb, there is the possibility to go as far as you would like and use several adverbs together, however, you should err on the side of caution with this since it can make a sentence weak. It is preferable to choose one or two adverbs to make your sentence stronger and less bulky. Let’s look at an example of a sentence with too many adverbs:

  • My father shouts quite horrifically too loudly.

You can understand what this sentence is trying to tell us but the use of adverbs is a little too much.

Adverbs to Modify a Sentence

An adverb can be used to modify a whole sentence and, in this case, will appear usually at the beginning. When used in this way, the adverb is not talking about any specific thing but is rather being used as a way to give an overall feeling for all of the information presented. Some examples of this are:

  • Generally, people take the train to London.
  • Luckily, my family lives in a nice location.
  • Interestingly, the ancient people ate the same meats as we do.

Adverbs in Comparisons

In some cases, you might use an adverb to make a comparison. You can do this by adding the words more or most in front of the adverb. Let’s look at the progression of this in the following sentences.

  • He ran quickly.
  • He ran more quickly
  • He ran the most quickly.

Adverb Types and Examples

There are different types of adverbs expressing different meanings. Generally, adverbs tell us how, where, when, how much, and with what frequency. Therefore, types of adverbs are classified according to their functions.

Check the list of adverbs in English with different types and examples here.

Examples of Adverbs of Frequency

Adverbs of frequency describe how often an action occurs. Examples include: always, sometimes, often/frequently, normally/generally, usually, occasionally, seldom, rarely/hardly ever, never, etc.

Example sentences:

  • I always brush my teeth before going to bed.
  • He rarely eats breakfast in the morning.
  • They usually go to the gym after work.
  • She occasionally takes a break from work to relax.
  • We frequently travel to different countries for vacation.
  • He never forgets to say thank you.
  • She hardly ever eats fast food.
  • They sometimes play tennis on the weekends.
  • He regularly practices playing the guitar.
  • She generally arrives at work on time.

Examples of Adverbs of Manner

Adverbs of manner describe how an action is performed. Examples include: cheerfully, efficiently, painfully, secretly, quietly, peacefully, carefully, slowly, badly, closely, easily, well, fast, quickly, etc.

Example sentences:

  • She sings beautifully.
  • He drove recklessly down the road.
  • They danced gracefully across the stage.
  • The dog barked loudly at the mailman.
  • She speaks softly when she’s upset.
  • He runs quickly in the morning.
  • They cooked the dinner perfectly.
  • She types efficiently on the computer.
  • He walks slowly to enjoy the scenery.
  • They laughed heartily at the joke

Examples of Adverbs of Time

Adverbs of time indicate when an action takes place. Examples include: now, yesterday, soon, later, tomorrow, yet, already, tonight, today, then, last month/year, etc.

Example sentences:

  • We are going to the movies tonight.
  • He woke up early this morning.
  • They are meeting their friends tomorrow.
  • She used to study late at night.
  • He works out in the gym every day.
  • She finished her work yesterday.
  • He will be arriving in the evening.
  • They went on vacation last week.
  • She is planning to go to the beach next month.

Examples of Adverbs of Place

Adverbs of place denote where an action happens. Here are some examples: off, above, abroad, far, on, away, back, here, out, outside, backwards, behind, in, below, down, indoors, downstairs, etc.

Example sentences:

  • The cat is looking under the bed.
  • We walked around the park.
  • The concert was held indoors.
  • The plane is flying high above the clouds.
  • The children are playing outside in the yard.
  • The restaurant is located nearby.
  • The car is parked underground.
  • Examples are shown below.
  • The boat sailed past the island.

Examples of Adverbs of Degree

Adverbs of degrees express the intensity or degree of the action. Examples include: quite, fairly, too, enormously, entirely, very, extremely, rather, almost, absolutely, just, barely, completely, enough, etc.

Example sentences:

  • She is extremely intelligent.
  • The party was quite enjoyable.
  • He spoke very softly.
  • The movie was incredibly boring.
  • The weather is absolutely wonderful.
  • She was slightly nervous before her speech.
  • He is completely exhausted after his workout.
  • The cake is fairly sweet, but not too sweet.
  • The music is too loud, please turn it down.

Examples of Adverbs of Certainty

Adverbs of certainty convey the degree of certainty regarding an action. For example: apparently, clearly, definitely, doubtfully, doubtlessly, obviously, presumably, probably, undoubtedly, etc.

Example sentences:

  • I am definitely going to the party tonight.
  • He is surely the best candidate for the job.
  • They will certainly be there on time.
  • I am absolutely sure that I locked the door.
  • She is evidently upset about something.
  • The plane will likely arrive on time.
  • The weather forecast indicates that it will probably rain tomorrow.
  • He is understandably nervous before the big exam.
  • The experiment clearly showed that the hypothesis was correct

Examples of Adverbs of Attitude

Adverbs of attitude allow the speaker to comment on the mood or attitude of the action. For example: frankly, fortunately, honestly, hopefully, interestingly, luckily, sadly, seriously, surprisingly, unbelievably, etc.

Example sentences:

  • She smiled happily at her friend.
  • He spoke politely to the customer.
  • The teacher explained patiently to the student.
  • The child cried sadly after losing her toy.
  • They argued angrily about the issue.
  • The dog barked loudly at the stranger.
  • She laughed nervously at his joke.
  • He sighed wearily after a long day at work.
  • The student answered confidently during the exam.
  • The baby giggled happily at the toy.

Examples of Adverbs of Judgment

Adverbs of judgment are used to make judgments about the action or event. Examples include: bravely, carelessly, fairly, foolishly, generously, kindly, rightly, spitefully, stupidly, unfairly, wisely, wrongly, etc.

Example sentences:

  • She spoke confidently during the presentation.
  • He worked diligently on the project.
  • The teacher explained the concept clearly.
  • The singer performed beautifully on stage.
  • They drove recklessly on the highway.
  • The chef cooked the steak perfectly.
  • The athlete ran impressively in the race.
  • The writer expressed his ideas eloquently in the essay.
  • The politician spoke persuasively during the debate.
  • The artist painted the portrait skillfully.

Examples of Conjunctive Adverbs

Conjunctive Adverbs (Linking adverbs) are used to connect clauses or sentences, showing relation in terms of sequencing, contrast, cause, or effect. Examples include: besides, comparatively, conversely, equally, further, hence, namely, next, now, rather, undoubtedly, additionally, anyway, certainly, elsewhere, finally, in contrast, indeed, moreover, subsequently, thereafter, yet, nevertheless, etc.

Example sentences:

  • I love to play soccer; however, I can’t play today because it’s raining.
  • She has a lot of work to do; therefore, she can’t come to the party tonight.
  • He didn’t study for the test; consequently, he failed it.
  • The movie was really boring; nonetheless, we stayed until the end.
  • I don’t like to eat vegetables; in addition, I’m allergic to some of them.
  • John is a good athlete; moreover, he’s also a great student.
  • Sarah loves to sing; similarly, her sister enjoys playing the guitar.
  • The road was closed due to the snowstorm; hence, we had to take a different route.
  • She’s been feeling sick; nonetheless, she still went to work today.

Where Should You Place An Adverb?

When deciding on where to place your adverb within a sentence it is important to remember to place it as near as possible to the word it is going to modify.

If the word you are modifying is a verb then the adverb should be placed in the middle of the sentence, for example:

  • He swam effortlessly across the pool.

It is important to consider the adverb ‘only’ as this can often be misplaced and has the ability to change the meaning of the sentence. Look at the two following examples:

  • I only fed my bird.
  • I fed only my bird.

The first sentence explains that I fed my bird but did nothing else with it, whereas the second sentence explains that I fed my bird and not any other birds.

Different types of adverbs and adverbials go in different positions in the clause. Let’s learn these adverb positions in a sentence, also called adverb placement.

  • The front position: before the subject of the sentence. It gives information in advance, to set the scene for the action that follows.
  • The mid position: the adverb in this position is intimately connected with the verb, generally placed immediately before it. If there is an auxiliary verb, the adverb is placed between the auxiliary and main verb. In case there are two, it is placed between them. If there is a negative auxiliary, the adverb normally goes after the negative element, but we can emphasize negation by placing the adverb just before it.
  • The end position: at the end of the sentence.

English Adverbs Video

An adverb is a very useful word that can modify other words such as verbs and adjectives to give them further description and intensity. There are certain rules explained in this video, which should be followed when using an adverb and you should be careful about where you choose to place them within a sentence to avoid altering the meaning.

What Is An Adverb? Useful Rules & Examples

Frequently Asked Questions

What are common examples of adverbs?

Adverbs are words that modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. They often provide more information about how, when, where, and to what extent an action occurs. Common examples include quickly, always, very, and here.

Can you give some exercises for adverbs?

Certainly! We can create adverb exercises by giving you a verb and asking you to add an adverb that tells us how the action is performed. For instance, take the verb “run” and add an adverb to modify it, such as “He runs quickly.” Alternatively, write a sentence and then rewrite it using a different adverb.

How do adverbs differ from adjectives?

Adverbs and adjectives both serve as modifiers, but they have different functions. Adjectives describe nouns and pronouns, while adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. For example, in the phrase “a quick cat,” quick is an adjective describing the noun cat. In the sentence “the cat ran quickly,” quickly is an adverb modifying the verb ran.

Can you explain the main types of adverbs?

There are several main types of adverbs:

  1. Adverbs of manner: These adverbs describe how an action is performed, such as slowly, quietly, or carefully.
  2. Adverbs of place: These indicate where an action takes place, like here, there, or everywhere.
  3. Adverbs of time: These provide information about when an action occurs, such as now, later, or yesterday.
  4. Adverbs of frequency: They express how often an action occurs, e.g., always, often, or never.
  5. Adverbs of degree: These adverbs show to what extent or how much something happens, like very, quite, or too.

What are adverbs of manner and their usage?

Adverbs of manner describe how an action is performed. They usually answer the question “how?” and typically end in -ly, although not all -ly words are adverbs of manner. Examples include quickly, softly, and carefully. They are generally placed after the verb they modify, as in “she sings beautifully” or “he works efficiently.”

How do you identify an adverb in a sentence?

To identify an adverb in a sentence, look for words that answer the questions “how?”, “when?”, “where?”, or “to what extent?”. Adverbs often end in -ly, but not always.

In the sentence “She quickly closed the door,” quickly is an adverb modifying the verb closed. To find the adverb, ask yourself how the action is performed; the answer is quickly. Keep in mind that adverbs can also modify adjectives and other adverbs.