Adverbs

Adverbs are words that can modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. So if you are not familiar with the concept of adverbs yet, read this.

Adverbs in the English Grammar

What Are Adverbs?

'Adverbs' are words that are used to modify 'adjectives,' 'verbs,' other 'adverbs, 'determiners, clauses, prepositions, or sentences. They provide more information about the manner, place, time, degree, frequency, or reason of an action, state, or quality by answering questions like when?, where?, why?, how?, how much?, how long?, how often? in what way? and to what extent?

Types of Adverbs

The following are the main types of adverbs in English:

Adverbs: Functions

As mentioned earlier, adverbs can modify 'adjectives,' 'verbs,' other 'adverbs, 'determiners, clauses, prepositions, or sentences.

Modifying Verbs

The main function of adverbs is to modify verbs or verb phrases. Adverbs are used to 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 there.

'There' 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 on the weekend.

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

She has probably gone home.

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

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.'

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.'

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 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.

Adverbs: Structures

In English (as in many other languages), adverbs are formed in various ways. For example, adverbs of manner are formed by adding the suffix '-ly' to adjectives. For example:

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:

  • fast
  • hard
  • straight

using an adverb of manner in a sentence

Adverbs: Position in Sentence

Adverbs of manner are generally placed after the verb and its objects. However, other positions are possible too. Pay attention to the examples:

He drove carefully.

He carefully drove.

Many adverbs of frequency, degree, certainty, etc. tend to be placed before the verb. However, if there is an auxiliary, these adverbs are normally placed after it.

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. For example:

I read the book quickly.

Adverbs: Order

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

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

Pay attention to the following examples:

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

Like adjectives, adverbs can show degrees of comparison. But it’s less common to use them in comparison.

  • To make the comparative form of adverbs with two or more syllables, add 'more' before the adverb.
  • To make the superlative form of adverbs with two or more syllables, add 'most' before the adverb.

She walked more quickly than the others.

She walked the most quickly of them all.

When an adverb has the same form as its corresponding adjective, the comparative and superlative forms of the adverb are identical to those of the adjective. Pay attention to the examples:

She speaks faster than Sara and I cannot understand anything.

Here, fast is an adverb which has the same form as the adjective 'fast'.

Maria works harder than before so that she can buy a new car.

Tip!

Certain linking verbs tend to be followed by adjectives rather than adverbs, including '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, along with any accompanying modifiers and complements. For example:

Handle the fragile vase very carefully while moving it.

As a former athlete, I know all too well the importance of staying hydrated during a game.

Sadly enough, many people are still not aware of the devastating effects of climate change on our planet.

Another common type of adverb phrase is the prepositional phrase, which consists of a preposition and its object. Pay attention to the examples:

I will talk to my father in the morning.

His car is parked on the corner.

Adverbial Clauses

Clauses must contain at least one subject and one verb to be considered grammatically complete. Consequently, adverbial clauses are composed of a subject and verb and function as adverbs, modifying the verb in the main clause.. Look at the examples.

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

He left before the conversation ended.

As you can see, 'before the conversation ended' acts as an adverb and modifies the verb 'left'.

Review

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

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Comparative and Superlative Adverbs

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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

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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

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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

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Adverbs of Frequency

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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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