English Grammar: Adverbs

A word that modifies the meaning of a verb, an adjective, or another adverb is called an Adverb.

Examples

  • James walked quickly towards the door.
  • The redwood tree was impressively tall.
  • She spoke extremely confidently.
  • She reads the newspaper silently.

Form: adjective + ly

  • loud + ly = loudly
  • slow + ly = slowly
  • beautiful + ly = beautifully
  • neat + ly = neatly
  • nice + ly = nicely
  • soft + ly = softly
  • clear + ly = clearly
  • elegant + ly = elegantly
  • careful + ly = carefully
  • regular + ly = regularly
  • graceful + ly = gracefully

There are also irregular adverbs. Examples: well, fast, very, never, always, often, still

All words ending in "ly" are not adverbs. For example, words like lonely and friendly are not adverbs. They are adjectives.

Most adverbs answer one of the following questions: HOW? WHEN? WHERE? TO WHAT EXTENT?

An adverb is a word that modifies a verb.

  • The Pirates played brilliantly.
  • The team performed well.
  • They are playing tomorrow.
  • They will play here.
  • He speaks loudly.
  • She dresses up beautifully.

An adverb is a word that modifies an adjective.

  • A very odd thing happened.
  • The cobra is a highly poisonous snake.
  • A window was partly open.

An adverb is a word that modifies another adverb.

  • The fight began quite unexpectedly.
  • I very quietly closed the door.
  • Both teams played extremely well.

Classification of Adverbs

Adverbs may be divided into the following classes, according to their meaning:

  • Adverbs of Time (which show when)
  • Adverbs of Frequency (which show how often)
  • Adverbs of Place (which show where)
  • Adverbs of Manner (which show how or in what manner)
  • Adverbs of Degree or Quantity (which show how much, or in what degree or to what extent)
  • Adverbs of Affirmation and Negation
  • Adverbs of Reason

Forming Adverbs from Adjectives

Most adverbs are formed by adding ly to an adjective.

  • skillful + ly = skillfully
  • brave + ly = bravely

If an adjective ends in ic, add al before adding ly.

  • basic + al + ly = basically
  • terrific + al + ly = terrifically

If an adjective ends in y, change the y to i and then add ly.

  • easy → [easi] + ly = easily
  • noisy → [noisi] + ly = noisily

If an adjective ends in le, do not add ly; simply change le to ly.

  • able → ably
  • gentle → gently

Adjectives and Adverbs

Adjectives (quick/careful, etc.) tell us about a noun (somebody or something). We use adjectives before nouns:

  • Sameer is a careful driver. (not a carefully driver)
  • We didn't go out because of the heavy rain.
  • She speaks perfect English.

Adverbs (quickly/carefully, etc.) tell us about a verb (how somebody does something or how something happens)

  • Sameer drove carefully along the narrow road. (not drove careful)
  • We didn't go out because it was raining heavily. (not raining heavy)
  • She speaks English perfectly.

Good/Well

Good is an adjective. The adverb is well.

  • Your English is good. but You speak English well.
  • Shivam is a good pianist. but Shivam plays the piano well.

We use well (not good) with past participles (dressed/known etc.): well-dressed, well-known, well-educated, well-paid 

  • Harry's father is a well-known writer. 

But well is also an adjective with the meaning 'in good health'

  • 'How are you today?' 'I'm very well, thanks.'

Fast/hard/late

These words are both adjectives and adverbs

  • Danny is a very fast runner. Danny can run very fast.
  • Katrina is a hard worker. Katrina works hard. (not works hardly)
  • I was late. I got up late this morning.

lately = recently

  • Have you seen him lately?

Hardly

Hardly = very little, almost not

  • Sarah wasn't very friendly at the party. She hardly spoke to me. (= she spoke to me very little, almost not at all) 
  • We've only met once or twice. We hardly know each other. 

Hard and hardly are different

  • He tried hard to find a job, but he had no luck. (= he tried a lot, with a lot of effort) 
  • I'm not surprised he didn't find a job. He hardly tried. (= he tried very little) 

I can hardly do something = it's very difficult for me, almost impossible

  • Your writing is terrible. I can hardly read it. (= it is almost impossible to read it) 
  • My leg was hurting. I could hardly walk.

Hardly ever = almost never

  • I'm nearly always at home in the evenings. I hardly ever go out.

Hardly also means 'certainly not'.

  • It's hardly surprising that you're tired. You haven't slept for three days. (= it's certainly not surprising)
  • The situation is serious, but it's hardly a crisis. (= it's certainly not a crisis)

So and Such

We use so + adjective/adverb

  • I didn't like the book. The story was so stupid.
  • I like Lara and Jimmy. They are so nice.

We use such + noun or such + adjective + noun

  • I didn't like the book. lt was such a stupid story. (not a so stupid story)
  • I like Lara and Jimmy. They are such nice people. (not so nice people)

So and such make the meaning stronger

  • lt's a beautiful day, isn't it? lt's so warm. (= really warm)
  • lt's difficult to understand him because he talks so quietly.