Adverbs of Movement and Direction

Adverb of movement or directions shows an action toward a place or points to a particular direction. In this lesson, we will learn about them.

intermediate
What Are Adverbs of Movement and Direction?

What Are Adverbs of Movement and Direction?

Adverbs of movement and direction are used to describe a verb that implies an activity or a certain movement. And adverbs of direction point to a particular direction.

Adverbs of Movement and Direction: Placement

Adverbs of movement and direction are used after main verbs or after the direct object of a transitive verb. However, in both cases, they modify the verb.

Here are some examples:

We went outside.

In this example 'went' is a main verb and 'outside' is used after it to modify it.

I moved it forward.

Warning

Remember, we do not use an adverb between the object and the main verb. If you encounter such a sentence structure, it is likely that you are dealing with a preposition, not an adverb.

Adverbs of Movement and Direction vs. Adverbs of Place

Adverbs of place are typically used to describe a state in a particular location, while adverbs of direction indicate the destination or direction of movement. However, some adverbs can function as both adverbs of place and adverbs of movement depending on the verb being used. Pay attention to the examples:

Those kids are playing inside. → adverb of place

We will take the dog inside. → adverb of movement and direction

Common Adverbs of Movement and Direction

There are a lot of adverbs of movement and direction in English, but here are some of the most common ones:

Adverbs with Suffixes -ward or -wards

-Wards or -ward is a suffix that forms adverbs showing direction. In American English, and sometimes in British English, '-ward' is used instead of `-wards' to form adverbs of direction. For example:

  • backwards/forwards
  • northwards/southwards/eastwards/westwards
  • homewards
  • inwards
  • onwards
  • outwards

Take a look at some examples:

I stretched upwards to grab a cup from the cupboard above the sink.

Adverbs with the Suffix -side

'Outside' and 'inside' have opposite meanings: 'outside' refers to a location that is not within a particular place, while 'inside' refers to a location within that place. Similarly, 'upside' indicates a direction towards the top of something. When used with appropriate verbs that indicate movement towards, away, to towards the top of a building or enclosed space, they can function as adverbs of movement. Here are some examples:

They stay inside/outside. → adverb of place

They take the dog outside. → adverb of direction and movement

We will carry the trolley inside. → adverb of direction and movement

"inside" is an example of adverbs of movement and direction

Adverbs with the Suffix -stairs

Downstairs is the opposite of upstairs. Downstairs means toward the lower floor of a building, while upstairs means toward the upper floor of a building. Here are some examples:

Carry the bags downstairs.

I pushed the box upstairs.

The Adverb Back

Back as an adverb of movement and direction typically indicates a return to a previous location or position. Here are some examples:

Those animals were sent back to where they lived before.

Tip!

Usually when the word back is used as an adverb of movement or direction, it is followed by the prepositions in or to. For example:

They went back in.

After the hike, we walked back to the car.

Through

When used as an adverb of movement and direction, 'through' typically indicates movement into a place from one side and out the other. Pay attention to the examples:

Let me through. I am a cop.

Keep going in straight through.

Off

Typically, the adverb 'off' means away or distant from a place, but with certain verbs, it can also indicate a sense of movement or direction. For example:

When she heard it, she just drove off.

The cat jumped off the table.

Adverbial Phrases

Adverbs can be combined with some prepositions or adverbs and make an adverbial phrase that can also be used as an adverb of movement or direction. Here are the examples:

We were driving right through, but there was an accident in the tunnel.

Let us just walk down there.

Adverb Order

Adverbs can be placed in various positions within a sentence, but it's important to note that adverbs of movement typically modify verbs and are often placed before adverbs of time. Adverbs can be placed at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence depending on the desired emphasis or effect. Check out the examples:

Driving off, she listened to her favorite songs.

We just took the hive outside last night at nine.

'Last night at nine' is an adverb of time, and as you can see, adverb of movement appears before it.

Adverbs vs. Prepositions of Movement and Direction

Adverbs of movement and direction and prepositions of movement and direction are both used to indicate the direction or manner of movement. However, there are some key differences between the two:

  1. Adverbs of movement and direction modify verbs, while prepositions of movement and direction are followed by a noun or pronoun.
  2. Adverbs of movement and direction are typically placed after the verb, while prepositions of movement and direction are placed before the noun or pronoun.
  3. Adverbs of movement and direction provide information about how the movement is performed, while prepositions of movement and direction provide information about the direction or destination of the movement.

Compare the examples:

The cat moved forward slowly.

Here, 'forward' modifies the verb and describes the manner and direction of movement of the cat.

The cat moved towards the mouse.

Here, 'towards' modifies the noun 'mouse' and indicates destination of the movement.

Review

Adverbs of movement and direction show movement toward a particular place or they can point to it. They are placed:

  1. after the main verb
  2. after the direct object of a transitive verb

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