English Adverbs

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

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Adverbs usually answer the following questions:

Where? Home. ("I went home.")

When? Yesterday. ("We met yesterday.")

How? Slowly. ("The turtle moves slowly.")

How often? Sometimes. ("Sometimes it stops responding.")

How long? Temporarily. ("She is staying with us temporarily.")

How likely? Surely. ("Our team will surely win!")

To what degree? Very. ("She was very pleased.")

An adverb can describe a verb:

She runs quickly.

An adverb can describe an adjective:
She is so beautiful.

An adverb can describe another adverb:
She smokes very rarely.

An adverb can describe an entire sentence:
Naturally, you don't have to come.

The word "adverb" comes from the Latin ad- (in addition) and verbum (word).

In many cases (but not always!) adverbs have the following form:

Adjective + "-ly"

Quick + ly = quickly
Strange + ly = strangely
Dead + ly = deadly
Sudden + ly = suddenly
Clever + ly = cleverly
Brave + ly = bravely
Real + ly = really

When an adjective ends with "y" replace the "y" with an "i":
Heavy + ly = heavi + ly = heavily
Happy + ly = happi + ly = happily

When the adjective ends with an "e" drop the "e":
True + ly = tru + ly = truly
However, there are many adverbs that do not end in "-ly":
Fast, very, hard, home, just, too, well, never, sometimes, and so forth.

We can divide English adverbs into several categories:

Adverbs of degree, adverbs of manner, adverbs of place,
adverbs of timeadverbs of frequency, adverbs of duration,
adverbs of probability, comparative adverbs and superlative 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.

He answered perfectly.

Example sentences:
  • He is very concerned about you.
  • You are totally right.
  • We almost made it to the train.

Adverbs of manner

Adverbs of manner show us the way the action is done. They answer the following question:

Well, badly, nicely, slowly, loudly, quietly, happily, sadly, secretly, weakly.

They run happily.

Example sentences:
  • He handled the situation well.
  • She listened secretly to their conversation.
  • The children ran happily to their father.

Adverbs of place

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

Home, here, there, outside, inside, away, around, anywhere, abroad, up, down, out.

He is home.

Example sentences:
  • We are here.
  • He went home.
  • We found him outside.
  • She looked up.

Adverbs of time

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

Now, soon, later, yesterday, tomorrow, early, before, lately, recently.

They are having dinner now.

Example sentence:
  • Let's talk now.
  • I will do it later.
  • He promised to write back soon.
  • What are you doing tomorrow?
  • We haven't met before.

Adverbs of frequency

Adverbs of frequency show us the frequency of the action or state. They answer the following question:
How often?

Always, never, sometimes, often, rarely, usually, occasionally.

I will never do that!

Example sentences:
  • I always brush my teeth after a meal.
  • We often meet and chat.
  • He is usually here on time.

Adverbs of duration

Adverbs of duration show us the length of the action or state.
They answer the following question:
For how long?

Forever, constantly, temporarily, briefly.

He will forever be her little boy.

Example sentence:
  • He is working there temporarily.
  • We spoke briefly.
  • I will be forever grateful.

Adverbs of probability

Adverbs of probability show us the chances for the action or state to happen. They answer the following question:
How likely?

Certainly, maybe, probably, possibly, surely.

He is probably in trouble.

Example sentences:
  • She will certainly forget about it.
  • Maybe we'll come after all.
  • It will probably not work.
  • Surely you are not serious!

Comparative adverbs

"Comparative" means "comparing something to something else."

Comparative adverbs show us which action or state is better, worse, stronger, weaker, and so forth.

More, less, better, worse, faster, slower, farther, closer.

She writes faster than most people.

Example sentences:
  • Maggie works out more seriously than Donna.
  • She eats less than her friends.
  • You are better than this.
  • We couldn't go slower even if we wanted to.
  • Let's get closer.

Superlative adverbs

"Superlative" means "of the highest degree."

Superlative adverbs show us which action or state is the best, the strongest, and so forth.

Best, most, least, worst, strongest, fastest, slowest.

They like each other best.

Example sentences:
  • He knows best.
  • It was the most boring experience.
  • He shouted the loudest, so he won.
  • He ran the slowest, so he lost.

Read also:

Comparatives and Superlatives

Illustrated Worksheet on Adverbs

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