Adverb Word Order

In English, we can use adverbs and adverb phrases to make sentences more descriptive. 

Most adverbs can be placed in different parts of a sentence without changing the meaning of the sentence. However, the placement of some adverbs does change the meaning of a sentence. In addition, different positions can emphasize different things.

So there are some rules on adverb word order , and you should definitely know them.

See also in this series on sentence structure and word order:

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All Tenses

An adverb is a word that describes or gives more information about a verb, an adjective, another adverb, or even an entire sentence.
 
Examples:

yesterday        quickly        really        heavily        fast        sometimes

hard        suddenly        today        too        never        very
 

In a previous lesson, we learned the basics of 
adverb word order in a sentence. You can review that lesson here: Word Order in English: Adverbs.
 
Here is a quick review of that lesson:
 
Adverbs and adverb phrases can be placed in three places in a sentence:
 
1. At the front of the sentence, before the subject
  • Yesterday, the teacher taught the students.

2. At the end of a sentence, after the object
  • The students will take the test tomorrow.

3. In the middle of a sentence (before or after the verb) or in the middle of a group of verbs
  • before the verb:

    She often studies before class.

  • after the verb:

    The student works quietly at her desk.

  • in the middle of a group of verbs:

    The teacher will quickly teach the students.
teacher

Adverbs
are usually placed near the verb that they modify. Most adverbs can be placed in any of the positions in a sentence without changing the meaning of the sentence.

(But different placements emphasize different things. Placing the adverb at the end gives more emphasis to the adverb.)

Example:
  1. Suddenly, I ran to the door.

  2. I suddenly ran to the door.

  3. I ran to the door suddenly.

The placement of suddenly does not change the meaning of the sentence.

However, the placement of some adverbs can greatly change the meaning of a sentence.

Example:
  • Only I love you. (I love you. Nobody else loves you.)
  • I only love you. (I love you. I do not love anything else.)
  • I love only you. (You are the only person I love. I do not love anybody else.)
  • I love you only. (You are the only person I love. I do not love anybody else.)
The fourth sentence has the same meaning as the third sentence, but the third sentence has a stronger emphasis.

The order of English words is important if you want to communicate your thoughts and ideas. You can review basic English word order with this lesson: Word Order in English.

Types of adverbs

Jump directly to rules:

adverbs of manner

adverbs of place

adverbs of frequency

adverbs of time

adverb clauses of purpose / reason

adverbs of degree

order of adverbs: more than one adverb

There are many types of adverbs in English. Each type of adverb has its own rules for placement in a sentence. Now, let us look at the rules of word order with each specific type of adverb.

Adverbs of manner

Adverbs of manner tell us how an action is done or happens. They answer the following question:

How?
 

well    quickly    softly    loudly    beautifully    dangerously    secretly   

weakly    happily    sadly    hard    fast    quietly    slowly    roughly   

greedily    nicely    badly    hungrily    angrily    thankfully
 
Adverbs of manner are usually placed after the main verb or after the object
in a sentence.
 
 
After the main verb

  • She sings well.

  • She sings loudly.

  • She sings beautifully.
singing
 
After the 
object
  • She sings the song well.

  • She sings the song loudly.

  • She sings the song beautifully.
 
An
adverb of manner cannot be placed between a verb and its direct object. The adverb must be placed before the verb or at the end of the clause.

 
Incorrect:
  • She cleans quickly the house.
Correct:
  • She cleans the house quickly.

  • She quickly cleans the house.

 dirty dishes

Incorrect
:
  • He walks slowly the dog.
Correct:
  • He walks the dog slowly.

  • He slowly walks the dog.
 
When there is a preposition before the verb’s object, place the
adverb of manner either before the preposition, before the verb, or after the object.
 
Before the preposition
  • She listened secretly to their conversation.

  • Tom climbed weakly out of bed.
 
Before the 
verb
  • She secretly listened to their conversation.

  • Tom weakly climbed out of bed.
 
After the 
object
  • She listened to their conversation secretly.

  • Tom climbed out of bed weakly.
man in bed

Return to "Types of adverbs"

Adverbs of place

Adverbs of place show us the location of the action or state. They answer the following question:

Where?

home    here    there    outside    inside    away    around
  
anywhere    abroad    up    down    out    in    


a house
 
Adverbs of place are usually placed after the main verb or at the end of the clause they modify.
 
After the main 
verb
  • He ran home.

  • He ran outside to his car.

  • He ran everywhere with his mom.
 
At the end of the clause
  • He ran all the way home.

  • He ran to his car outside by the garage.

  • He ran with his mom everywhere.
 
Here and there are special
adverbs of place. They have special rules.
  • The winner is here.

  • Put the book over there.

  • She walks there every morning.
 
Here and there can also be placed at the beginning of a 
sentence to add emphasis.
 
If the
subject of the sentence is a noun, here and there are followed by a verb.
  • Here is the winner!

  • Here is my sister!

  • There goes our car!

  • There went my fox!
fox
 
If the 
subject of the sentence is a pronoun, here and there are followed by the pronoun.
  • Here she is!

  • Here it is!

  • There it is!

  • There they are!
 Return to "Types of adverbs"

Adverbs of frequency

Adverbs of frequency show us the rate of the action or state. They answer the following question:


How often?


always    never    sometimes    often    rarely    usually    occasionally


 

Adverbs of frequency
 are usually placed before the main verb but after auxiliary (helping) verbs.
 
Exception: When the main verb is to be, the adverb is placed after the main verb.
 

Before the main 
verb
  • I always brush my teeth after eating food.

  • Nick usually washes the dishes.

  • We often meet to chat.
women talking
 
Before the main 
verb, but after the auxiliary verb
  • She has sometimes asked for my advice.

  • We have rarely talked on the phone.

  • Nick will never make a million dollars. 

Adverbs of frequency with the 
verb
to be
  • I am always happy.

  • He is usually here on time.

  • They are occasionally late.
late students

Some 
adverbs of frequency can also be placed at the beginning or end of a sentence to add emphasis to the meaning of the adverb.
  • Occasionally they are late.

  • They are late occasionally.

  • Sometimes I like children.

  • I like children sometimes.

baby
 
Return to "Types of adverbs"

Adverbs of time

Adverbs of time show us the time of the action or state. They answer the following question:

When?

now    sooner    later    yesterday    tomorrow

early        before        lately        last year

 clock

Adverbs of time
 can be used to create emphasis in a sentence.  Adverbs of time are most commonly put at the end of a sentence, but they can sometimes be placed at the beginning of the sentence to emphasize the time.

Examples:
  • I will study now.

  • Now I will study. (The time is more important.

    study
     
  • She will study later.

  • Later she will study. (The time is more important.)
 Return to "Types of adverbs"


Adverb clause of purpose / reason 

An adverb clause of purpose (or reason) is a clause that tells us the reason the action is happening. An adverb clause cannot be by itself as a sentence. It must be part of a sentence.
 
An adverb clause of reason usually begins with subordinating conjunctions like because, as, since, and that.
  • I exercise because I enjoy it.

  • My sister says that you are kind.

  • He works two jobs since he is in debt.


Using infinitive verbs to form adverbs

An infinitive is just the basic form of a verb: to + verb.

to walk        to run        to sing        to play        to sleep 
 
You can use the infinitive verb to form an adverb clause of purpose/reason.
 
  • She runs fast to catch the train. (to catch = infinitive)

  • Mom walks outside to get the mail. (to get = infinitive) 

  • She goes home at 6:00 p.m. to cook dinner. (to cook = infinitive)
woman baking

Return to "Types of adverbs"


Adverbs of degree

Adverbs of degree show us the strength or degree of the action or state.

They answer the following questions:

How much? To what degree?


very     highly    totally    perfectly    partially   

almost    too    enough    just    quite    extremely

 
Adverbs of degree are usually placed before the 
adjectiveadverb, or verb that they modify. 
  • She is totally finished.

  • She is a perfectly happy girl.

  • He is extremely tired. 
tired man

There are exceptions to this rule. The words too, enough, very, and extremely are examples of adverbs of degree. They have their own rules.
 
The adverb 
too has two meanings.
  • Too meaning also

  • Too meaning excessively

Too = also
Too meaning also is placed at the end of the clause it modifies, often at the end of the sentence.
  • She is happy too.

  • Do you want to go too?

  • Tim likes Jill, and Jill likes Tim too.
man and woman

Too = excessively

Too
 meaning excessively is placed before the adjective or adverb it modifies.
  • The ice cream is too sweet.

  • He is too short.

  • Isn’t he too big for that shirt?

  • The coffee is too hot.
hot coffee
 
When 
too is used like this, the modified word is often followed by to + infinitive.
  • The ice cream is too sweet to eat fast.

  • He is too short to see over the fence.

  • The tea is too hot to drink.
 
The adverb very
 
The 
adverb very means extremely or really.
 
The 
adverb very is placed before the adjective or adverb it modifies to make its meaning stronger. 
  • I am very tired.

  • She is very short.

  • He can run very fast.
Return to "Types of adverbs"
 man running

Order of adverbs:
more than one adverb in a sentence

When there is more than one adverb in a sentence describing a verb, they usually go in this order: manner, place (location), frequency, time, reason/purpose.

Pinterest Graphic

It is uncommon to use all five types of adverbs to modify the same word. If a sentence uses two or more adverbs, it is good to follow this order to sound natural.
 
The 
adverbs in the sentences below are color-coded to show order of adverbs.
 
mannerplacefrequencytime, reason/purpose
  • She runs quickly outside every morning before school to lose weight.

  • The teacher gives instructions loudly in the classroom at the end of the day as the students prepare to go home.

  • Dad walks impatiently home every evening after work.

  • Tim reads there each day after lunch.
 
When there is more than one of the same type of adverb, we order them based on how specific the information is. The most specific adverb is placed first.

  • She runs outside  at 6:30 a.m. (more specific) before school (less specific) to lose weight.

    girl running

  • Tim reads on the floor (more specific) in his bedroom (less specific) after lunch.
 dog reading
 

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