What Is An Adverb?
The most simple way to describe an adverb is that it is a word that can modify a verb, in other words describe it, for 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.
So, what is an adverb? 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.
As we mentioned, the adverb can be used to modify various different 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 you 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.
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.
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 the 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 into London.
- Luckily, my family lives in a nice location.
- Interestingly, the ancient people ate the same meats as we do.
Adverbs for Comparison
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.
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
- This car can drive fast.
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.
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.
Examples of Adverb of Frequency
List of adverbs in English with different types and examples.
Adverb of Frequency: always, sometimes, often/frequently, normally/generally, usually, occasionally, seldom, rarely/hardly ever, never, etc.
- 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 Adverb of Maner
Adverb of Manner: cheerfully, efficiently, painfully, secretly, quietly, peacefully, carefully, slowly, badly, closely, easily, well, fast, quickly, etc.
- 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 Adverb of Time
Adverb of Time: now, yesterday, soon, later, tomorrow, yet, already, tonight, today, then, last month/year, etc.
- 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 Adverb of Place
Adverb of Place: off, above, abroad, far, on, away, back, here, out, outside, backwards, behind, in, below, down, indoors, downstairs, etc.
- The cat is hiding 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 behind the building.
- The book is on the shelf.
- The boat sailed past the island.
- The birds are nesting up in the tree
Examples of Adverb of Degree
Adverb of Degree: quite, fairly, too, enormously, entirely, very, extremely, rather, almost, absolutely, just, barely, completely, enough, etc.
- She is extremely intelligent.
- The party was quite enjoyable.
- He spoke very softly.
- The movie was incredibly boring.
- The weather is absolutely perfect.
- 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 Adverb of Certainty
Adverb of Certainty: apparently, clearly, definitely, doubtfully, doubtlessly, obviously, presumably, probably, undoubtedly, etc.
- 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
Adverbs of Attitude: frankly, fortunately, honestly, hopefully, interestingly, luckily, sadly, seriously, surprisingly, unbelievably, etc.
- 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 Adverb of Judgement
Adverbs of Judgement: bravely, carelessly, fairly, foolishly, generously, kindly, rightly, spitefully, stupidly, unfairly, wisely, wrongly, etc.
- 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 Adverb (Linking adverb): besides, comparatively, conversely, equally, further, hence, in comparison, incidentally, namely, next, now, rather, undoubtedly, additionally, anyway, certainly, elsewhere, finally, in addition, in contrast, indeed, moreover, nonetheless, similarly, subsequently, thereafter, yet, also, meanwhile, consequently, nevertheless, etc.
- 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.