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English Adverbs










What is an adverb?

An adverb is a part of speech that describes or modifies a verb, an adjective, another adverb, clause, or sentence.

Adverbs answer the questions "How?", "When?", "Where?", "Why?", "In what way?", "How much?", "How often?", "Under what condition", "To what degree?"

The easiest adverbs to recognize are those that end in -ly. Some adjectives end with -ly also but remember that adjectives can modify only nouns and pronouns. Adverbs modify everyting else.

An adverb can be placed anywhere in a sentence.

The three most common adverbs used in English Language are: not, very, too

Adverbs as modifiers
(adverbs in adverbial functions)

• An adverb modifies a verb
He walked quickly. ('quickly' modifies verb 'walked')
I accepted new task willingly. ('willingly' modifies verb 'accepted')
Mike snored melodically. ('melodically' modifies verb 'snored')

• An adverb modifies an adjective
They were really unhappy. ('really' modifies adjective 'unhappy')
My brother is completely fearless. ('completely' modifies adjective 'fearless')
I know she is very careful. ('very' modifies adjective 'careful')

• An adverb modifies an adverb
He is almost always hungry. ('almost' modifies adverb 'always')
John plays tennis very well. ('very' modifies adverb 'well')
You never can work too carefully. ('too' modifies adverb 'carefully')

• An adverb modifies a clause
Perhaps you are correct, but not at first glance. ('perhaps' modifies clause 'you are correct')
Surely he will be on time, but I hope not. ('surely' modifies clause 'he will be on time')

• An adverb modifies a sentence
Suddenly, she went home. ('suddenly' modifies a whole sentence)
Finally, he will be on time. ('finally' modifies a whole sentence)
Today, we can take a vacation.('today' modifies a whole sentence)

Adverb Formation

•Adverbs that end in -ly are formed by adding -ly to an adjective, a present participle, or a past participle.
- from an adjective
careful - carefully
beautiful - beautiful
fitting - fittingly

- from a present participle
willing - willingly
glowing - glowingly
surprising - surprisingly

- from a past participle
assured - assuredly
affected - affectedly
surprised - surprisedly

•When adjective ends in -able or -ible, the adverb is formed by replacing final -e with -y
horrible - horribly
terrible - terribly

•When adjective ends in -y, the adverb is formed by replacing final -y with -ily
happy - happily
lucky - luckily

•When adjective ends in -ic, the adverb is formed by replacing final -ic with -ically
economic - economically
ironic - ironically

Adverbs Position

Adverbs can be placed anywhere in a sentence.

•At the front (prior to the subject)
Today we will study adverbs.
Lately, I have had lots of phone calls.

•At the center of the sentence (between the subject and the verb)
He seldom goes to movies.
I hardly noticed her.

•At the end of the sentence
I learn English slowly.
I study adverbs now.

Adverbs as intensifiers

Adverbs can be used as amplifiers, down toners, or emphasizers.

As emphasizers.
I really like him.
I literally wrecked my car.

As amplifiers
They completely abandoned the city.
I absolutely refuse to leave.

As down toners
I somewhat like this movie.
Peter almost quit that job.

Adverbs lists and quizzes Alphabetical listing of 3732 adverbs

Adverbs starting with: a b c d e f g h
Adverbs starting with: i j k l m n o p q
Adverbs starting with: r s t u v w x y z

Adverb Quizzes
Adverbs Practice List of random sentences is given. You need to identify each adverb by clicking on it.

Adverbs Links

Adverb Adverbs in English, examples of adverbs in adverbial functions and more

BBC - Skillswise Words - Making more interesting sentences using adverbs. Factsheets,worksheets, quizzes

Adverb from The Guide to Grammar and Writing. Lots of info and two quizzes.

Adverbs can be classified by their functions Adverb lists that follow each category are only partial ones.

Adverbs of manner - answer the question How?
I watch them closely.
I play well.
I walk carefully.
List: cheerfully, fast, quicly, slowly, inadequately, healthy

Adverbs of time - answer the question When?
He has not played chess recently.
I arrive late for most appointments.
Lately, I have had many sleepless nights.
List: early, never, now, often, soon, then, today, tomorrow

Adverbs of place (location, direction) - answer the question Where?
I walked downstairs.
Have you ever gone there?
I will meet you outside.
List: above, away, below, down, here, inside, there, up

Adverbs of degree - answer the question How much?
He is totally prepared for his birthday.
I am too tired to play tennis tonight.
He is completely tired from the journey.
List: almost, entirely, little, much, rather, very, too

Adverbs of frequency - answer the question How often?
He rarely goes by himself.
She constantly finishes her job first.
List: always, never, usually, frequently, sometimes, occasionally

Conjunctive (connecting) adverbs - connect the ideas expressed in different clauses or sentences.
Use of conjunctive adverb between two independent clauses requires a semicolon before the adverb and comma after it.
I want to sleep; however, I need to study.

If conjunctive adverb is used at the beginning of a sentence, comma is used to set it off. note that the period takes the place of a semicolon.
The day was over. Therefore, I went to sleep.

If conjunctive adverb is placed within a clause, commas are used to set it off.
The day is over. I will, therefore, go to sleep.

Some of the most common conjunctive adverbs: accordingly, also, anyhow, furthermore, however, moreover, otherwise, still, therefore.

Interrogative adverbs - used at the beginning of questions.
Why are you so angry?
When does the movie start?
List: why, where, how, when

Comparison of adverbs Like adjectives, adverbs have three forms of comparison: positive, comparative, and superlative.

Positive degree expresses the quality without comparison.
Comparative degree compares two verbs, adjectives, or adverbs.
Superlative degree compares three or more verbs, adjectives or adverbs.

Adverb comparison
Most adverbs are compared by using another adverb.
More or less are used to express the comparative degree.
Most or least are used to express the superlative degree.
I dance gracefully (or horribly).
I dance more gracefully (or more horribly).
I dance most gracefully ( or most horribly).

Suffix comparison
Some adverbs are compared using a suffix –er for the comparative forms and –est for the superlative forms.
I will arrive soon (or fast).
I will arrive sooner (or faster).
I will arrive soonest (or fastest).

Irregular comparison
There are also a number of adverbs compared irregularly.
These must be remembered. Here are some of them.

POSITIVE  COMPARATIVE  SUPERLATIVE 
bad/badlyworseworst
farfarther/furtherfarthest/furthest
late/latelylaterlatest
littlelessleast
muchmoremost
wellbetterbest


Beyond comparison
Some adverbs are never compared. They express qualities unsuitable for comparison.
Here are some of them: again, almost, before, ever, never, here, there, now, then, there, thus, too, twice, very.