Adverb - Introduction, Form, Types, Position, Frequency and Examples

Adverb - Introduction, Form, Types, Position, Frequency and Examples
Adverb - Introduction, Form, Types, Position, Frequency and Examples


What is an Adverb?

adverb (noun): a word that modifies a verb, an adjective or another adverb, expressing manner, place, time or degree; a word that can modify a phrase, clause or sentence
An adverb is a word that tells us more about a verb. It "qualifies" or "modifies" a verb (The man ran quickly). In the following examples, the adverb is in bold and the verb that it modifies is in italics.
  • John speaks loudly. (How does John speak?)
  • Afterwards she smoked a cigarette. (When did she smoke?)
  • Mary lives locally. (Where does Mary live?)
But adverbs can also modify adjectives (Tara is really beautiful), or even other adverbs (It works very well). Look at these examples:
  • Modify an adjective:
    - He is really handsome. (How handsome is he?)
    - That was extremely kind of you.
  • Modify another adverb:
    - She drives incredibly slowly. (How slowly does she drive?)
    - He drives extremely fast.

Adverb Form

We make many adverbs by adding -ly to an adjective, for example:
  • quick (adjective) > quickly (adverb)
  • careful (adjective) > carefully (adverb)
  • beautiful (adjective) > beautifully (adverb)
There are some basic rules about spelling for -ly adverbs. See the table below:
adjective endingdo thisadjectiveadverb
most adjectivesadd -lyquick
-able or -iblechange -e to -yregrettable
-ychange -y to -ilyhappyhappily
-icchange -ic to -icallyeconomiceconomically
But not all words that end in -ly are adverbs. The following -ly words, for example, are all adjectives:
  • friendly, lovely, lonely, neighborly
And some adverbs have no particular form. Look at these examples:
  • well, fast, very, never, always, often, still

Kinds of Adverbs

Here you can see the basic kinds of adverbs.

Adverbs of Manner

Adverbs of Manner tell us the manner or way in which something happens. They answer the question "how?". Adverbs of Manner mainly modify verbs.
  • He speaks slowly. (How does he speak?)
  • They helped us cheerfully. (How did they help us?)
  • James Bond drives his cars fast. (How does James Bond drive his cars?)

Adverbs of Place

Adverbs of Place tell us the place where something happens. They answer the question "where?". Adverbs of Place mainly modify verbs.
  • Please sit here. (Where should I sit?)
  • They looked everywhere. (Where did they look?)
  • Two cars were parked outside. (Where were two cars parked?)

Adverbs of Time

Adverbs of Time tell us something about the time that something happens. Adverbs of Time mainly modify verbs.
They can answer the question "when?":
  • He came yesterday. (When did he come?)
  • want it now. (When do I want it?)
Or they can answer the question "how often?" (frequency):
  • They deliver the newspaper daily. (How often do they deliver the newspaper?)
  • We sometimes watch a movie. (How often do we watch a movie?)

Adverbs of Degree

Adverbs of Degree tell us the degree or extent to which something happens. They answer the question "how much?" or "to what degree?". Adverbs of Degree can modify verbsadjectives and other adverbs.
  • She entirely agrees with him. (How much does she agree with him?)
  • Mary is very beautiful. (To what degree is Mary beautiful? How beautiful is Mary?)
  • He drove quite dangerously. (To what degree did he drive dangerously? How dangerously did he drive?)

Adverb Position

When an adverb modifies a verb, there are usually 3 possible positions within the sentence or clause:
1. FRONT - before subjectNowI will read a book.
2. MID - between subject + verbIoftenread books.
3. END - after verb/objectread bookscarefully.
When an adverb modifies an adjective or another adverb, it usually goes in front of the word that it modifies, for example:
She gave him areallydirtylook.
Wequiteoftenstudy English.
The position of an adverb often depends on the kind of adverb (manner, place, time, degree). The following table gives you some guidelines for placement based on the kind of adverb.
kind of adverbmainly modifiessentenceusual position
mannerverbsShe spokegently.END
placeverbsHe livedhere.END
timedefiniteverbsI'll do ittoday.END
frequencyWeoftengo to Paris.MID
degreeverbs, adj. and adv.Inearlydied.MID
It wasterriblyfunny.before adj.
He worksreallyfast.before adv.

Adverbs of Frequency

Adverbs of Frequency are adverbs of time that answer the question "How frequently?" or "How often?". They tell us how often something happens. Here are some examples:
  1. daily, weekly, yearly
  2. often, sometimes, rarely
You probably see a difference between a) and b) above. With words like daily, we know exactly how often. The words in a) describe definite frequency. On the other hand, words like often give us an idea about frequency but they don't tell us exactly. The words in b) describe indefinite frequency.
We separate them into two groups because they normally go in different positions in the sentence.
  • Adverbs of Definite Frequency
  • Adverbs of Indefinite Frequency

Adverbs of Definite Frequency

  • hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly
  • every second, once a minute, twice a year
  • once, twice, once or twice, three times
Adverbs of definite frequency, like all adverbs of definite time, typically go in END position. Look at these examples:
  • Most companies pay taxes yearly.
  • The manager checks the toilets every hour.
  • The directors meet weekly to review progress.
Sometimes, usually for reasons of emphasis or style, some adverbs of definite frequency may go at the FRONT, for example:
  • Every day, more than five thousand people die on our roads.

Adverbs of Indefinite Frequency

Look at these examples of adverbs of indefinite frequency:
100%always, constantly
usually, normally
frequently, regularly
rarely, infrequently
hardly ever
Adverbs of indefinite frequency mainly go in MID position in the sentence. They go before the main verb (except the main verb "to be"):
  • We usually go shopping on Saturday.
  • I have often done that.
  • She is always late.
Occasionallysometimesoftenfrequently and usually can also go at the beginning or end of a sentence:
  • Sometimes they come and stay with us.
  • I play tennis occasionally.
Rarely and seldom can also go at the end of a sentence (often with "very"):
  • We see them rarely.
  • John eats meat very seldom.

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