Adverb Placement and Order in English Grammar

Adverb Placement and Order in English Grammar

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 order of adverbs.

Adverb Placement and Order in English Grammar


Adverbs are words that adds more information about place, time, manner, cause or degree to a verb, an adjective, a phrase or another adverb. In this lesson we will learn about different types of adverbs and their position in a sentence. We will also learn about the order of adverbs in case we want to use more than one adverb in a sentence.

Adverb Structure

Almost all adverbs end in the suffix -ly, but some (such as fast) look exactly the same as their adjective form.

Types of adverbs

Based on what the adverb is used to describe or add more information to, we can categorize them in 2 groups:

  1. Adverbs used to modify verbs;
  2. Adverbs used to modify adjectives;
  3. Adverbs used to modify another adverb;
  4. Adverbs used to modify the whole sentence.

Group 1

When adverbs modify verbs, they answer questions about where, when, how, and to what extent an action took place.

The rain poured heavily .

In this example, 'heavily' modifies the verb 'pour'. Without it the sentence will be 'the rain poured.' and we do not know the manner of the action of the verb.

She took a taxi here .

In this example, the adverb describes 'Where' did she take a taxi.

I will study tomorrow .

In this example, the adverb describes 'When' will I study.

Mike barely passed his test .

In this example, the adverb describes 'To what extent' did Mike pass his test.

Group 2

Adverbs that modify adjectives are called intensifiers. They can tell to what extent an adjective modifies a noun.

It is an incredibly good book .

Incredibly tells how good the book is.

My nephew is really cute .

Really tells how cute my nephew is.

Group 3

Adverbs that modify another adverb are called intensifiers. An adverb can tell to what extent another adverb modifies a word.
Adverbs that modify other adverbs must go directly before the adverbs they modify.

Moira walks very fast .

In this example, 'very' tells how fast she walks.

The painting is almost certainly a forgery .

'Almost' tells how certain the painting is a fake.

Group 4

Adverbs that modify entire sentences are called sentence adverbs. Sentence adverbs describe a general feeling about all of the information in the sentence, not one particular thing in the sentence.

Fortunately , those times have passed .

Surprisingly , boys are more likely to be left-handed than girls .

Adverb Placement

Generally, adverbs come directly after the verbs they modify, but they can also be moved around the sentence. It can go at the beginning of the sentence, before the verb, or between a helping verb and the main verb.

I drink milk daily .

Daily I drink milk .

I daily drink milk .

I will daily drink milk .

You cannot place an adverb between parts of an infinitive verb. It may result in different meaning.

He likes to usually eat hot food .

This example is incorrect. It means he likes it only when he can do it usually.

He likes to eat usually hot food .

This example is incorrect. It means the food isn't usually hot, but sometimes not hot.

He likes to eat hot food usually .

This sentence is correct.

Adverb Order

If we want to use more than one adverb in a sentence, we should follow a particular order in which different adverbs should appear in a sentence. This rule is called the order of adverbs or sometimes called the royal order of adverbs.

  1. Adverbs of Manner
  2. Adverbs of Place
  3. Adverbs of Frequency
  4. Adverbs of Time
  5. Adverbs of Purpose

We should mention that it is usually uncommon to use all five categories of adverbs in single sentence, but sometimes we might use two or three adverbs.

She walked slowly (manner) down the alley (place) every evening (frequency) at 7 o'clock (time) in order to walk her dog (purpose) .

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