The Complete List of
English Spelling Rules

Lesson 15: Forming Adverbs

In this series of lessons, you will learn useful spelling rules in English.

This lesson will give you helpful guidelines so that you know how to properly spell adverbs you want to form from adjectives.

a woman working on a computer

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As you know, an adjective in English describes a noun. An adverb describes a verb, an adjective, another adverb, or even an entire sentence.

Most adverbs have a special ending: -ly. You can form adverbs from some adjectives, but you must be careful of the spelling.

Here are some rules to help you.

1. Adding -ly to the end of the adjective

a man in a suit running

Mark is running quickly to catch his bus.

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Many adjectives can be transformed into adverbs. In most cases, we do this by simply adding -ly to the end of the adjective.

Here are some examples:
  • suddenly
  • brightly
  • slowly
  • mysteriously
  • really
  • interestingly
  • politely
  • kindly
  • generously
  • calmly
  • nervously
  • generally

2. Adjectives ending in -y

a man with a big ice cream cone

Fred looked hungrily at his big ice cream cone.

When the adjective you want to make into an adverb ends in -y, you must change the y to an i, then add -ly

Here are some common examples:
  • happily
  • angrily
  • clumsily
  • lazily
  • hastily
  • messily
  • readily
  • stealthily
  • cozily

3. Adjectives that end in -le

a woman sitting in a comfortable chair

Marlene is sitting comfortably in her favorite chair.

When the adjective ends in -le, remove the e and replace it with a y.

For example:
  • terribly
  • incredibly
  • adorably
  • acceptably
  • understandably
  • noticeably
  • recognizably
  • predictably
  • suitably
  • remarkably

4. Comparative and superlative adverbs

boys racing toy cars

Dave's car is moving more slowly than Ethan's car.

Finally, when you want to form a comparative or a superlative adverb, you should add "more" before the adverb to make it comparative, and "most" to make it superlative.

For example:

Correct: Paul spoke more politely than Erica.
Incorrect: Paul spoke politelier than Erica.

Correct: I saw the most amazingly beautiful film yesterday!
Incorrect: I saw the amazingliest beautiful film yesterday!

Remember that the adverb well is irregular. Its comparative form is better, and its superlative form is best.

Correct: Mark did better on the test than I did, but Amanda did the best.
Incorrect: Mark did more well on the test than I did, but Amanda did the most well.


So, let's review what we have learned about forming adverbs in English:

  1. Most adjectives that can be transformed into adverbs simply need -ly added to the end.

  2. If the adjective ends in -y, you must change the y to i, then add -ly.

  3. If the adjective ends in -le, you should remove the e and add -y.

  4. To form a comparative adverb, add "more" before it. To make it superlative, add "most." Remember that the adverb "well" is irregular.

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