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What Is an Adverb?

An adverb is a word used to modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.


For example:
 She swims quickly.
(Here, the adverb quickly modifies the verb swims.)
 She swims extremely quickly.
(Here, the adverb extremely modifies the adverb quickly.)
 She is an extremely quick swimmer.
(Here, the adverb extremely modifies the adjective quick.)
When an adverb modifies a verb, it usually tells us when, where, how, in what
manner, or to what extent the action is performed. Here are some examples of
adverbs modifying verbs:
 How: He ran quickly.
 When: He ran yesterday.
 Where: He ran here.
 In what manner: He ran barefoot.
 To what extent: He ran fastest.
In the examples above, each adverb is a single word, but an adverb can be
made up of more than one word. For example:
 How: He ran at 10 miles per hour.
 When: He ran when the police arrived.
 Where: He ran to the shops.
 In what manner: He ran like a man possessed.
 To what extent: He ran quicker than me.

What Is an Adverb?
At school, you may have been told that adverbs end ly and modify verbs. That
is all true, but adverbs are far more diverse than that description suggests.

Adverbs can also modify adjectives and other adverbs. Although many
adverbs end ly, lots do not (e.g., fast, never, well, very, most, least, more,
less, now, far, and there).

Adverbs Modifying Verbs


An adverb that modifies a verb usually tells you when, where, how, in what
manner, or to what extent the action is performed. (NB: The ones that
end ly are usually the ones that tell us how the action is performed, e.g.,
quickly, slowly, carefully, quietly.)
Here are some examples of adverbs modifying verbs:
 Anita placed the vase carefully on the shelf.
(The word carefully is an adverb. It shows how the vase was placed.)
 Tara walks gracefully.
(The word gracefully is an adverb. It modifies the verb to walk.)
 He runs fast.
(The word fast is an adverb. It modifies the verb to run.)
 You can set your watch by him. He always leaves at 5 o'clock.
(The word always is an adverb. It modifies the verb to leave.)
 The dinner guests arrived early.
(Here, early modifies to arrive.)
 She sometimes helps us.
(Here, sometimes modifies to help.)
 I am the only person in the world I should like to know thoroughly.
(Oscar Wilde)
(Here, thoroughly modifies to know.)

Adverbs Modifying Adjectives


If you examine the word adverb, you could be forgiven for thinking adverbs
only modify verbs (i.e., add to verbs), but adverbs can also modify adjectives
and other adverbs. Here are some examples of adverbs modifying adjectives:
 The horridly grotesque gargoyle was undamaged by the debris.
(The adverb horridly modifies the adjective grotesque.)

 Peter had an extremely ashen face.


(The adverb extremely modifies the adjective ashen.)

 Badly trained dogs that fail the test will become pets.
(The adverb badly modifies the adjective trained.)
(Note: The adjective trained is an adjective formed from the verb to
train. It is called a participle.)

 She wore a beautifully designed dress.


(The adverb beautifully modifies the adjective designed.)

Adverbs Modifying Adverbs


Here are some examples of adverbs modifying adverbs:
 Peter Jackson finished his assignment remarkably quickly.
(The adverb quickly modifies the verb to finish. The
adverb remarkably modifies the adverb quickly.)

Different Types of Adverbs


Although there are thousands of adverbs, each one can usually be
categorized in one of the following groupings:

Adverbs of Time
An adverb of time tells us when an action occurs. For example:
 Press the button now.
 I have never been.
 I tell him daily.
 I tell him on a daily basis.
(Remember, an adverb can be more than one word. Here, the adverb
is a prepositional phrase.)
Read more about adverbial phrases.
Read more about adverbial clauses.

Adverbs of Place
An adverb of place tells us where an action occurs. For example:
 Daisies grow everywhere.
 I did not put it there.
 I did not put it in the box.
(Remember, an adverb can be more than one word.)

Adverbs of Manner
An adverb of manner tells us how an action occurs. For example:
 He passed the re-sit easily.
 The lion crawled stealthily.
 The lion crawled like an escaped convict.

Adverbs of Degree
An adverb of degree tells us to what degree action occurs. For example:
 That is the farthest I have ever jumped.
 He boxed more cleverly.
Read more about comparatives of adverbs (like more cleverly).

The adverb categories above are relatively simple. The next adverb
categories are a little more complicated:
Adverbs of Condition
An adverb of condition tells us the condition needed before the main idea
comes into effect. (An adverb of condition often starts with if or unless. For
example:
 If it rains, the party will be ruined.
 I will not talk unless you apologize.

Adverbs of Concession
An adverb of concession contrasts with the main idea. An adverb of
concession often starts with a subordinating
conjunction like though, although, even though, while, whereas, and even if.
For example:
 Although her face is an odd shape, she is undoubtedly beautiful.
 A loud voice cannot compete with a clear voice, even if it's a whisper.
(Barry Neil Kaufman)

Adverbs of Reason
An adverb of reason gives a reason for the main idea. An adverb of reason
usually starts with a subordinating conjunctions like as, because, given,
or since. For example:
 Given today's strong tide, you should expect a tough swim.
 I don't have a bank account because I don't know my mother's maiden
name. (Paula Poundstone).

Spotting an Adverb
End in "-ly"
Many adverbs end in “-ly”. If you are not sure of the part of speech a word would be, and it ends
with “-ly”, it is probably an adverb.
Examples include:
 Financially
 Willfully
 Abruptly
 Endlessly
 Firmly
 Delightfully
 Quickly
 Lightly
 Eternally
 Delicately
 Wearily
 Sorrowfully
 Beautifully
 Truthfully
Other examples of adverbs would be words that describe how something was done or the
manner in which it was done. These would be words like:
 Uneasily
 Weirdly
 Cheerfully
 Expertly
 Wholeheartedly
 Randomly
 Brutally
 Really
 Briskly
 Sloppily
 Wickedly
Tell Where Action Happened
Some adverbs tell the location of an action, or where it occurred. Adverbs like this would be:
 Here
 There
 Everywhere
 Somewhere
 In
 Inside
 Underground
 Out
 Outside
 Upstairs
 Downstairs
Tell When Action Happened
Examples of adverbs that tell when an action occurred, or its time, include:
 Now
 First
 Last
 Early
 Yesterday
 Tomorrow
 Today
 Later
 Regularly
 Often
 Never
 Monthly
 Always
 Usually
Tell the Extent of the Action
Adverbs can describe to what extent something was done or an action was executed,
including:
 Very
 Too
 Almost
 Also
 Only
 Enough
 So
 Quite
 Almost
 Rather
View adverbs flashcards for more examples!

Adverbs Are Intensifiers


One function of adverbs is to intensify the meaning of the word it is modifying. It does this
by putting more or less emphasis on the word, amplifying the meaning of the word, or toning
down the feeling of the word.
Here are some sentences with the emphasizing adverb underlined:
 I really don’t care.
 He literally wrecked his car.
 I am certain of the facts, for sure.
 You simply don’t understand.
 I so want to go to the concert.
Sentences that amplify would be like:
 She completely rejected his proposal.
 I heartily endorsed the new restaurant.
 I so want that new toy.
 He completely understands me.
 I absolutely refuse to stay here any longer.
Adverbs and adverb phrases that tone down the feeling or mood would include:
 I sort of felt betrayed by you.
 You can improve on this to some extent.
 She kind of likes the movie.
 The boss almost quit his job after that.
 I somewhat understand what you are saying.
 She mildly disapproved of his actions.

Adverb Phrases
Adverb phrases function like adverbs. They can tell when, how, where, and to what extent
or purpose. Adverb phrases can start with a preposition.
Some examples of these are:
 With a hammer
 Next door
 Before the holidays
 Every month
 For his mother
Adverb phrases can also start with the infinitive form of a verb, like in these examples:
 To buy a car
 To support the team
 To show her mother
An adverb or adverb phrase is a workhorse in the world of grammar, changing and enhancing the
meaning of their partner verbs.
Here is a list of sentences with the adverb phrase underlined:
 He lived in the north of Germany.
 We went out today to buy a car.
 She went to the movies every month.
 I laughed every time he cracked a joke.
 It is kept where the students can read it.
 She looked for flowers to show her mother.
 He acts like he owns the place.
 I went to bed after I finished my homework.
 Please stay as long as possible.
 We cheered loudly to support the team.