ADVERBS - FUNCTION
Adverbs modify, or tell us more about other words, usually verbs:
• The bus moved slowly.
• The bears ate greedily.
Sometimes they tell us more about adjectives:
• You look absolutely fabulous!
They can also modify other adverbs:
• She played the violin extremely well.
• You're speaking too quietly.
ADVERBS: How adverbs are formed
1. In most cases, an adverb is formed by adding '-ly' to an adjective:
• Time goes quickly.
• He walked slowly to the door.
• She certainly had an interesting life.
• He carefully picked up the sleeping child.
If the adjective ends in '-y', replace the 'y' with 'i' and add '-ly':
If the adjective ends in -'able', '-ible', or '-le', replace the '-e' with '-y':
If the adjective ends in '-ic', add '-ally':
Note: Exception: public - publicly
2. Some adverbs have the same form as the adjective:
Adjective and Adverb
• It is a fast car.
• He drives very fast.
• This is a hard exercise.
• He works hard.
• We saw many high buildings.
• The bird flew high in the sky.
3. 'Well' and 'good'
'Well' is the adverb that corresponds to the adjective 'good'.
• He is a good student.
• He studies well.
• She is a good pianist.
• She plays the piano well.
• They are good swimmers.
• They swim well.
Adverbs: Comparative & Superlative
In general, comparative and superlative forms of adverbs are the same as for adjectives:
• add -er or -est to short adverbs:
Adverb Comparative Superlative
faster the hardest
• Jim works harder than his brother.
• Everyone in the race ran fast, but John ran the fastest of all.
With adverbs ending in -ly, use more for the comparative and most for the superlative:
Adverb Comparative Superlative
seriously more quietly
more seriously most quietly
• The teacher spoke more slowly to help us to understand.
• Could you sing more quietly please?
Some adverbs have irregular comparative forms:
Adverb Comparative Superlative
• The little boy ran further than his friends.
• You're driving worse today than yesterday !
BE CAREFUL! Sometimes 'most' can mean 'very':
• We were most grateful for your help
• I am most impressed by this application.
KINDS OF ADVERBS
ADVERBS OF MANNER
Adverbs of manner tell us how something happens. They are usually placed after the main verb or after the object.
• He swims well, (after the main verb)
• He ran... rapidly, slowly, quickly..
• She spoke... softly, loudly, aggressively..
• James coughed loudly to attract her attention.
• He plays the flute beautifully. (after the object)
• He ate the chocolate cake greedily.
The adverb should not be put between the verb and the object:
• He ate greedily the chocolate cake [incorrect]
• He ate the chocolate cake greedily [correct]
If there is a preposition before the object, e.g. at, towards, we can place the adverb either before the preposition or after the object.
• The child ran happily towards his mother.
• The child ran towards his mother happily.
Sometimes an adverb of manner is placed before a verb + object to add emphasis:
• He gently woke the sleeping woman.
Some writers put an adverb of manner at the beginning of the sentence to catch our attention and make us curious:
• Slowly she picked up the knife.
(We want to know what happened slowly, who did it slowly, why they did it slowly)
However, adverbs should always come AFTER intransitive verbs (=verbs which have no object).
• The town grew quickly
• He waited patiently
Also, these common adverbs are almost always placed AFTER the verb:
The position of the adverb is important when there is more than one verb in a sentence. If the adverb is placed after a clause, then it modifies the whole action described by the clause.
Notice the difference in meaning between the following pairs of sentences:
• She quickly agreed to re-type the letter (= her agreement was quick)
• She agreed to re-type the letter quickly (= the re-typing was quick)
• He quietly asked me to leave the house (= his request was quiet)
• He asked me to leave the house quietly (= the leaving was quiet)
KINDS OF ADVERBS
ADVERBS OF PLACE
Adverbs of place tell us where something happens.
They are usually placed after the main verb or after the object:
after the main verb:
• I looked everywhere
• John looked away, up, down, around...
• I'm going home, out, back
• Come in
after the object:
• They built a house nearby
• She took the child outside
Common Adverbs of Place
'Here' and 'there'
With verbs of movement, here means towards or with the speaker:
• Come here (= towards me)
• It's in here (= come with me to see it)
There means away from, or not with the speaker:
• Put it there (= away from me)
• It's in there (= go by yourself to see it)
Here and there are combined with prepositions to make many common adverbial phrases:
down here, down there;
over here, over there;
under here, under there;
up here, up there
Here and there are placed at the beginning of the sentence in exclamations or when emphasis is needed.
They are followed by the verb if the subject is a noun:
• Here comes the bus. (followed by the verb)
Or by a pronoun if this is the subject (it, she, he etc.):
• Here it is! (followed by the pronoun)
• There she goes! (followed by the pronoun)
NOTE: most common adverbs of place also function as prepositions.
about, across, along, around, behind, by, down, in, off, on, over, round, through, under, up.
Go to Prepositions or Phrasal Verbs
Other adverbs of place: ending in '-wards', expressing movement in a particular direction:
• Cats don't usually walk backwards.
• The ship sailed westwards.
BE CAREFUL! 'Towards' is a preposition, not an adverb, so it is always followed by a noun or a pronoun:
• He walked towards the car.
• She ran towards me.
expressing both movement and location:
ahead, abroad, overseas, uphill, downhill, sideways, indoors, outdoors
• The child went indoors.
• He lived and worked abroad.
Adverbs of Degree
ADVERBS OF DEGREE
Adverbs of degree tell us about the intensity or degree of an action, an adjective or another adverb.
Common adverbs of degree:
Almost, nearly, quite, just, too, enough, hardly, scarcely, completely, very, extremely.
Adverbs of degree are usually placed:
before the adjective or adverb they are modifying:
e.g. The water was extremely cold.
before the main verb:
e.g. He was just leaving. She has almost finished.
• She doesn't quite know what she'll do after university.
• They are completely exhausted from the trip.
• I am too tired to go out tonight.
• He hardly noticed what she was saying.
Enough, very, too
Enough as an adverb meaning 'to the necessary degree' goes after adjectives and adverbs.
• Is your coffee hot enough? (adjective)
• He didn't work hard enough. (adverb)
It also goes before nouns, and means 'as much as is necessary'.
dverbs of Certainty
ADVERBS OF CERTAINTY
Adverbs of certainty express how certain or sure we feel about an action or event.
Common adverbs of certainty:
certainly, definitely, probably, undoubtedly, surely
1. Adverbs of certainty go before the main verb but after the verb 'to be':
• He definitely left the house this morning.
• He is probably in the park.
2. With other auxiliary verb, these adverbs go between the auxiliary and the main verb:
• He has certainly forgotten the meeting.
• He will probably remember tomorrow.
3. Sometimes these adverbs can be placed at the beginning of the sentence:
• Undoubtedly, Winston Churchill was a great politician.
BE CAREFUL! with surely. When it is placed at the beginning of the sentence, it means the speaker thinks something is true, but is looking for confirmation:
• Surely you've got a bicycle?
Adverbs: Viewpoint and Commenting
VIEWPOINT AND COMMENTING ADVERBS
There are some adverbs and adverbial expressions which tell us about the speaker's viewpoint or opinion about an action, or make some comment on the action.
Frankly, I think he is a liar. (= this is my frank, honest opinion)
Theoretically, you should pay a fine. (= from a theoretical point of view but there may be another way of looking at the situation)
These adverbs are placed at the beginning of the sentence and are separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma.
Some common Viewpoint adverbs:
honestly, seriously, confidentially, personally, surprisingly, ideally, economically, officially, obviously, clearly, surely, undoubtedly.
• Personally, I'd rather go by train.
• Surprisingly, this car is cheaper than the smaller model.
• Geographically, Britain is rather cut off from the rest of Europe.
These are very similar to viewpoint adverbs, and often the same words, but they go in a different position - after the verb to be and before the main verb.
• She is certainly the best person for the job.
• You obviously enjoyed your meal.
Some common Commenting adverbs: