What is an Adverb?
An adverb is a word that modifies or describes a verb (they played nicely), an adjective (very good), another adverb (treat so badly), or even a whole sentence (Unfortunately, they lost the game). Adverbs often end in -ly, but some appear to be exactly the same as the adjectives. Here are some examples of adverbs (in bold):
- Emily sang beautifully.
- The match ended too
- Fortunately, we made it to the meeting in time.
- They will seriously consider his proposal.
- Darren sings loudly in the bathroom.
- The dog impatiently waited for his food.
The adverbs in each of the sentences above answer the question in what manner? How did Emily sing? Beautifully. How did the match end? Too quickly. How did we make it to the meeting? Fortunately in time. Adverbs can also tell us when (They arrived early) and where (Turn right).
Types of Adverbs
Adverbs provide a description of a verb in a sentence. There are five basic types of adverbs in the English language, namely: Adverb of Time, Adverb of Place, Adverb of Manner, Adverb of Frequency and Adverb of Degree.
Here is a brief explanation of each of the adverbs, along with examples:
Adverbs of Time
An adverb of time gives information about when a verb takes place. They are placed usually at the beginning or end of a sentence. We put it at the beginning of a sentence when we want to emphasise to express the moment something happened. Examples of adverbs of time: Never, lately, just, always, recently, during, yet, soon, sometimes, usually, so far, etc.
- So far, we have not found any ambiguities in his statement.
- She hasn’t been walking her dog lately.
- They have recently bought a new car.
Adverbs of Place
An Adverb of place shows where the verb is happening. It’s usually placed after the main verb or object, or at the end of the sentence. Examples of adverbs of place are:
Here, there, nowhere, everywhere, out, in, above, below, inside, outside, into, etc.
- She went to the zoo, and saw the animals everywhere!
- He lost his way and didn’t know where he was heading.
- We can’t get these CDs at this store, let’s look somewhere else.
Adverbs of Manner
Adverbs of manner are used to express the way or how something is done. An adverb can be added to a verb to modify its meaning. “He plays football.” – An adverb of manner can be added to the verb (play) to modify its meaning and give us more information on how he plays football.
He plays football superbly. He plays football beautifully. He plays football badly.
Notice that most of adverbs of manner end in –ly. Examples of them are:
Neatly, slowly, quickly, sadly, calmly, politely, loudly, kindly, lazily, etc.
- Joe gathered his toys and put them in the filing cabinet.
- He politely opened the door for us as we entered their house.
- Their pet dog rested lazily on the garden sofa.
Adverbs of Degree
Adverbs of degree express the level or intensity of a verb, adjective, or even another adverb.
Example of adverbs of degree include: almost, quite, nearly, too, enough, just, hardly, simply, so, etc.
- Can I accompany you to the movies, too?
- Is she in a hurry? She is leaving so quickly.
- He’s so excited to join his new employer.
Adverbs of Frequency
Adverbs of frequency are used to show routine or repeated activities; hence they are often used with the present simple tense. If a sentence has only one verb, place the adverb of frequency in the middle of the sentence so that it is positioned after the subject but before the verb. Examples of adverbs of frequency are:
Never, always, rarely, sometimes, normally, seldom, usually, again, etc.
- He rarely goes to movies these days.
- Wilson usually goes for a walk after dinner.
- He has always been partying all night on weekends.
Rules of Adverbs
The following rules for using adverb can be very useful for finding errors in a sentence.
To form an adverb, -ly can be added to its adjective form. Some examples are:
She sings sweet/ sweetly. How does she sing? Sweetly.
Mr. Wilson is a slow/ slowly walker. Slow is an adjective describing walker, so no -ly is attached.
She runs fast/fastly. Fast answers the question how, so it is an adverb. But fast never has -ly attached to it. He performed bad/badly in the exams. Badly describes how he performed, so -ly is added.
No -ly is attached with linking verbs such as taste, smell, look, feel, which pertain to the senses. Adverbs are often misplaced in such sentences, which require adjectives instead. Examples:
Mangoes smell sweet/sweetly.
Do the mangoes actively smell with noses? No! in this case, smell is a linking verb—which requires an adjective to modify mangoes — hence, ‘sweet’.
Mother looked angry/angrily. Since we are describing mother’s appearance (she appeared angry), not angrily.
Mother looked angry/angrily at Sarah.
Here, mother actively looked (used her eyes), so angrily is correct.
They feel bad/badly about the incident. (‘Bad’ is correct as they are not feeling in a physical manner)
‘Good’ is an adjective, whose adverb equivalent is ‘well’.
He’s done a good job. (Good describes the job)
He’s done the job well. (Well answers how)
A ripe mango smells sweet. (Not sweetly)
Good and well while referring to health
Pamela looks good today. (What type of person is she?)
Pamela looks well today. (How is Pamela? – She may have been ill, but now she is fit again.)
Grandpa does not look well today. Grandma doesn’t feel well, either.
In formal usage, do not drop the -ly from an adverb when using the comparative form.
He went away quicker than she did. ✗
He went away more quickly than she did. √
Speak quieter, please! ✗
Speak more quietly, please! √
Adverb ‘too much’ is used with nouns and adverb ‘much too’ with adjective:
His injuries give him too much pain. (Here pain is a noun)
He is much too vindictive. (Here vindictive is adjective)
Adverb ‘fairly’ is usually used with positive sense while ‘rather’ with negative or unfavourable sense:
Emily is fairly tall.
This is rather tedious maths problem.
‘Enough’ should be preceded by an adjective
Jack is now enough strong to lift this box. ✗
Jack is now strong enough to lift this box. √
Joe is enough intelligent to qualify this interview. ✗
Joe is intelligent enough to qualify this interview. √
Adverb ‘very’ is used in positive degree; ‘much’ is used in comparative degree
Joe is very intelligent.
Aeroplanes are much faster than trains.
‘Late’ shows period of time and ‘lately’ shows recently.
She always comes lately. ✗
She always comes late. √
Sharon late had picked a quarrel with her friend. ✗
Sharon lately had picked a quarrel with her friend. √
If the sentence begins with hardly, never, seldom, scarcely, rarely, no sooner etc. then the verb is in inverted form.
No sooner they had reached the cinema than the movie started. ✗
No sooner had they reached the cinema than the movies started. √
Hardly she helps with household chores. ✗
Hardly does she help with household chores. √
- The novel is __________ interesting. (quite/ too)
- She __________ goes out. (rare/ rarely )
- I would like to go to cinema_________, if you will let me come. (too/ also)
- He _____________ has dinner at 9, then he goes for a walk. (usual/ usually)
- He has __________ been to Switzerland in his life. (not/ never)
- My colleagues in office are ____________ Chinese. (mostly/ most)
- Father was __________ impressed with Joe’s performance in the exam. (very/ too)
- I ______________ watch Hollywood films. (occasionally/ occasion)
- I live___________ to the City Centre. (closely/ close)
- Although they don’t have very much themselves, they ___________share with those who are in need. (Cheerful/ cheerfully)
- Emily drove so fast that she was __________ injured. (bad/ badly)
- Father is __________ upset about crashing his car. (terrible/ terribly)
- She speaks so __________; I can’t make it out. (fast/ fastly)
- Don’t speak so __________. I can’t hear you. (quiet/ quietly)
- Sharon looks __________. What’s the matter with her? (sad/ sadly)
Answers Elementary Exercises
- Quite and very are used in affirmative while too is used when something is in excess, such as temperature, difficulty, etc.; for example, “too hot“, “too challenging“, or “too soft“.
- Rarely is an adverb while rare is an adjective.
- Too is used at the end of the statement.
Comprehensive Advanced Exercises I
Read the sentence to find out whether there is any error in it. The error, if any, will be in one part of the sentence. The number of that part is the answer. If there is no error, the answer is (e). Ignore errors of punctuation, if any.
- The teacher scarcely went out (a)/ than (b)/ she started talking. (c)/ No error (d)
- Not only (a)/ she bought the groceries from market, (b)/ but also did the usual household chores. (c)/ No error (d)
- Scarcely (a)/ he left the meeting (b)/ before (c)/ there were murmurs of dissent from his colleagues. /No error (d)
- He has failed (a)/ in the exams. (b)/ He has not worked very hard lately. (c)/ No error (d)
- What’s wrong (a)/ with this take-away meal? (b)/ It looks well to me. (c)/ No error (d)
- The kitchen floor (a)/ was so dirty. (b)/ The maid wiped it cleanly. (c)/ No error (d)
- Mother grew calmly (a)/ after she heard (b)/ the good news. (c)/ No error (d)
- Even after (a)/ three months of lessons, (b)/ Tom drives the car bad. (c)/ No error (d)
- She careless (a)/ put the vase on the table. (b)/ It fell to the floor. (c)/ No error (d)
- Sharon is going (a)/ to throw a party on Saturday. (b)/ She has final got a job. (c)/ No error (d)
- She’s always in a hurry. (a)/ I can’t understand (b)/ why she walks so quick. (c)/ No error (d)
- She prefers (a)/ praying (b)/ in a lone place. (c)/ It’s always quiet. /No error (d)
- Jack half-hearted (a)/ took the assistant job. (b)/ He had been looking for a higher position (c)/ all these days. /No error (d)
- Sharon danced beautiful. (a)/ She’s been taking Scottish dance classes (b)/ since she was eleven. (c)/ No error (d)
- She speaks French (a)/ very good. (b)/ She has lived in France (c)/ for ten years. /No error (d)
- Emily always plays (a)/ loudly music on weekends. (b)/ It’s so annoying. (c)/ No error (d)
- Please walk in the hallway (a)/ careful. (b)/ The walls have just been painted. (c)/ No error (d)
- Harris is very smart, (a)/ but (b)/ he is not very well at studies. (c)/ No error (d)
- He reacted angry (a)/ to the news of his detention. (b)/ I had never seen him so upset. (c)/ No error (d)
- He didn’t complete understand (a)/ the teacher’s instructions; (b)/ though most of them finished their assignments. (c) /No error (d)
Answers Comprehensive Advanced Exercises I
- (b) Replace ‘than’ with ‘before’.
- (b) There should be inversion with negative verbs; hence not only did she buy…
- (b) Scarcely did he leave the meeting before….inversion of verb.
- (c) Replace ‘very’ with ‘too’.
- (c) Replace ‘well’ with ‘fine’.
- (c) Replace ‘cleanly’ with ‘clean’.
- (a) Replace ‘calmly’ with ‘calm’.
- (c) Replace ‘bad’ with ‘badly’.
- (a) Replace adjective ‘careless’ with the adverb ‘carelessly’.
- (c) Replace ‘final’ with ‘finally’.
- (c) Replace ‘quick’ with ‘quickly’.
- (c) Replace ‘lone’ with ‘lonely’.
- (a) Replace ‘half-hearted’ with ‘half-heartedly’.
- (a) Replace ‘beautiful’ with ‘beautifully’.
- (b) Replace ‘good’ with ‘well’.
- (b) Replace ‘loudly’ with ‘loud’.
- (b) Replace ‘careful’ with ‘carefully’.
- (c) Replace ‘well’ with ‘good’.
- (a) Replace ‘angry’ with ‘angrily’.
- (a) Replace ‘complete’ with ‘completely’.
Comprehensive Advanced Exercises II
- Moose doesn’t know (a)/ even (b)/ basic calculations; (c)/ he is extreme stupid. (d)/ No error (e)
- This egg (a)/ has become (b)/ stale; (c)/ it tastes awfully. (d)/ No error (e)
- That iron rod (a)/ is too hot. (b)/ You have to be carefully (c)/ with it. (d)/ No error (e)
- She comes often (a)/ to Canada (b)/ and (c)/ meets my family. (d)/ No error (e)
- It was much cold (a)/ today (b)/ and we put some more wood (c)/ on the fire. (d)/ No error (e)
- She has not seldom (a)/ drunk coffee (b)/ since (c)/ she left Switzerland. (d)/ No error (e)
- Although (a)/ he was (b)/ in Egypt last month, (c)/ he never saw the Giza Pyramids. (d)/ No error (e)
- He struggled (a)/ manly (b)/ with some of the worst (c)/ situations in life. (d)/ No error (e)
- He didn’t know hardly (a)/ anyone (b)/ in the city (c)/ and so felt insecure. (d)/ No error (e)
- I never remember (a)/ to have met (b)/ such a slow and dumb man (c)/ in my life. (d)/ No error (e)
- He eats his breakfast (a)/ very quicker (b)/ than his sister (c)/ does. (d)/ No error (e)
- He told his employer (a)/ as blunt as he could (b)/ but (c)/ he seemed the least convinced. (d)/ No error (e)
- They have no time (a)/ to play volleyball (b)/ and no desire (c)/ neither. (d)/ No error (e)
- The grandmother feels well (a)/ now (b)/ because she soundly slept (c)/ last night. (d)/ No error (e)
- Have you got distinction (a)/ in Physics? (b)/ Yes, (c)/ I haven’t. (d)/ No error (e)
- What to talk of (a)/ getting good grades, (b)/ he didn’t qualify (c)/ even the exam. (d)/ No error (e)
- Never in the history of America, (a)/ there has been (b)/ as good a statesman (c)/ as George Washington. (d)/ No error (e)
- Yes, Jack has acted nobler (a)/ than most of his classmates (b)/ and you have no choice (c)/ but to accept him. (d)/ No error (e)
- He is being paid (a)/ handsome salary (b)/ and he’s earning (c)/ fifty thousand dollars monthly. (d)/ No error (e)
- The beggar on the pavement (a)/ had barely nothing (b)/ to cover (c)/ when we met him a while ago. (d)/ No error (e)
Answers Comprehensive Advanced Exercises II
- (d) Extremely
- (d) Awful
- (c) Careful
- (a) Put ‘often’ before ‘comes’.
- (a) Replace ‘much’ with ‘very’.
- (a) Remove ‘not’ before ‘seldom’.
- (d) Replace ‘never saw’ with ‘didn’t see’.
- (b) Replace ‘manly’ with ‘manfully’.
- (a) Replace ‘didn’t know’ with ‘knew’.
- (a) Replace ‘never remember’ with ‘don’t remember’.
- (b) Replace ‘very quicker’ with ‘more quickly’.
- (b) Replace ‘blunt’ with ‘bluntly’.
- (d) Replace ‘neither’ with ‘either’.
- (c) Change ‘soundly slept’ to ‘slept soundly’.
- (c) Replace ‘yes’ with ‘no’.
- (a) Replace ‘what’ with ‘not’.
- (b) Invert the sentence as ‘has there been’.
- (a) Replace ‘nobler’ with ‘more nobly’.
- (d) Replace ‘monthly’ with ‘a month’.
- (b) Replace ‘nothing’ with ‘anything’.