What Are Adverbs?

'Adverbs' are words that are used to modify 'adjectives,' 'verbs,' other 'adverbs, 'determiners, clauses, prepositions, or sentences.
An adverb answers the question when?, where?, why?, how?, how much?, how long?, or how often? in what way? and to what extent?

Types of Adverbs

Here are the main types of adverbs in the English language:

Functions of Adverbs

Adverbs Modifying Verbs

The main function of adverbs is to modify verbs or verb phrases. In this way, they give us more information about the manner, place, time, frequency, certainty, etc.
Take a look at some examples:

She danced beautifully.

Here, 'beautifully' modifies the verb 'danced,' indicating the manner of dancing.

I left my wallet in the park.

'In the park' modifies the verb phrase 'left my wallet,' indicating place.

My uncle is going to London tomorrow.

Here, 'tomorrow' modifies the verb phrase 'is going to,' indicating time.

She often works at the weekend.

'Often' modifies the verb 'works,' indicating frequency.

She has probably gone home.

'Undoubtedly' modifies the verb phrase 'has gone,' indicating probability.

Adverbs Modifying Adjectives and Adverbs

We can also use adverbs to modify adjectives, and other adverbs, often to indicate degree. for examples:

The turtle moves very slowly.

The adverb 'very' modifies another adverb 'slowly.'

This cake is absolutely delicious.

The adverb 'absolutely' modifies the adjective 'delicious.'

Adverbs Modifying Determiners and Prepositional Phrases

Adverbs can also be used to modify determiners and prepositional phrases. Take a look at the following examples:

I've watched practically all of his movies.

'Practically' modifies the determiner 'all' in the noun phrase, 'all of his movies'.

He's almost as old as I am.

'Almost' modifies the prepositional phrase 'as old as.'

Adverbs Modifying Sentences

We can also use adverbs to modify whole clauses or sentences. For example:

Undoubtedly, people have become more interested in social media.

'Undoubtedly' modifies the sentence as a whole.

Unfortunately, we couldn't finish the project on time.

'Unfortunately' modifies the sentence as a whole.

Adverbs as Subject Complements

Adverbs can sometimes be used as predicative subject complements. Mostly the adverbs of place can be used in this way. For example:

Our seat is there.

Here is where the trouble starts.

In this sentence, 'where the trouble starts' is the subject and 'here' is the predicate. The sentence has a subject-verb inversion.

Structures of Adverbs

In English (as in many other languages), there are different ways of creating an adverb. For example, we can create adverbs of manner by adding the suffix -ly to the adjectives.

quick → quickly

slow → slowly

Some words can be used as both adjectives and adverbs. These words are called flat adverbs (also called bare adverbs or simple adverbs). For example:

  1. fast
  2. hard
  3. straight

using an adverb of manner in a sentence

Positions of Adverbs

Adverbs of manner are generally placed after the verb and its objects. However, other positions are possible too.

He drove carefully.

He carefully drove.

Many adverbs of frequency, degree, certainty, etc. tend to be placed before the verb, although if there is an auxiliary, then the normal position for such adverbs is after that.

I usually bake cookies.

I can usually manage to stay calm.

Adverbs that show a connection with the previous sentences, and those that provide the context for a sentence, are normally placed at the beginning of the sentence.

Next, put the turkey in the oven for 45 minutes.

If the verb has an object, the adverb comes after the object.

I read the book quickly.

Order of Adverbs

If you want to use more than one 'adverb' in a sentence, it is important to know how to place them in a specific order. There is a simple set of rules to follow, called the order of adverbs. The adverbs are placed first in the following order:

  1. Adverbs of manner
  2. Adverbs of place
  3. Adverbs of frequency
  4. Adverbs of time

I run quickly (manner) down the road (place) every morning (frequency) before school (time).

I study carefully (manner) at school (place), because I have to become an engineer.

Comparative and Superlative Adverbs

'Adverbs,' like adjectives, can show degrees of comparison. But it’s less common to use them in comparison.

  • To make the comparative form of a two or more-syllable adverb you add 'more' before the adverb.
  • To make the superlative form of a two or more syllable adverb you add 'most' before the adverb.

She walked more quickly than the others.

She walked the most quickly of them all.

With adverbs that look exactly the same as their adjective counterparts, the comparative and superlative forms look the same as the adjective comparative and superlative forms.

She speaks faster than Sara and I cannot understand anything.

Here in this example, fast is an adverb which is the same as the adjective 'fast'.

Maria works harder than before, in order to buy a new car.


They are some linking verbs that are mostly followed by adjectives not adverbs. Such as smell, feel, appear, etc.

The food smells good. (Not 'The food smells well.')

Adverbial Phrases

'Adverbial phrases' are groups of words that act as adverbs. An adverb phrase may have an adverb as its head, and with any modifiers and complements. For example:

  • very carefully
  • all too well
  • sadly enough

Another very common type of adverb phrase is the prepositional phrase, which consists of a preposition and its object.

I will talk to my father in the morning.

His car is parked on the corner.

Adverbial Clauses

Clauses contain one subject and one verb. Without having a subject and verb we cannot make clauses. 'Adverbial clauses,' as a result, have subject and verb. They are made up of a set of words and play the role of an adverb. Look at the examples.

The bosses signed the contracts after they had talked on the subjects.

He left before the conversation ended.


Adverbs are used to modify adjectives, verbs, or other adverbs. There are different types of adverbs in English. Check out the list.

  • adverbs of manner
  • adverbs of place
  • adverbs of time
  • adverbs of frequency


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Adverb Placement and Order

We can put adverbs at the front, in the middle, or at the end of a clause. Each can have its own function. We'll also learn about the orders of adverbs.

Comparative and Superlative Adverbs

Adverbs are used to modify adjectives adverbs and verbs, but what if we want to make a comparison between things by using these adverbs? Read more.

Types of Adverbs

Adverbs give us a description of a verb in a sentence. There are five basic types of adverbs in the English language.

Adverbs of Place

Adverbs of place help us express where the verb is taking place. Using them will help us be more accurate about locations.

Adverbs of Time

'Adverbs of time' give you some information about the time something happened. Using them will help us add details about time to our sentences.

Adverbs of Frequency

Adverbs of frequency show us how often an action takes place. We use them commonly in daily English so, it is essential to learn them. Read here.

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