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What are Adverbs?

An adverb describes a verb and often tells how something is done. It also modifies an adjective or another adverb by making its meaning more specific. Adverb answers the questions How? When? Where? and To what degree?

1. The children read the story aloud.

2. The leopard disappeared rapidly over the hill.

3. Sarah’s wrist was sprained badly.

4. Kevin cried inconsolably.

Look at the words aloud, rapidly, badly, and inconsolably. What do they indicate? They describe the verbs (words that show action) and tell how and where the action is done. These words are called adverbs.


       1. They sang excitedly.  

           ‘sang’ how? ‘excitedly’.
           Adverb ‘excitedly’ modifies the verb ‘sang’.

       2. The child is extremely hungry because he had not eaten anything the whole day.

           ‘hungry’ to what degree? ‘extremely’.
            Adverb ‘extremely’ modifies the adjective ‘hungry’

       3. Karla walks to office as she lives nearby.

           ‘lives’ where? ‘nearby’
            Adverb ‘nearby’ modifies the verb ‘lives’.

       4. The pizza will be delivered shortly.

           ‘delivered’ when? ‘shortly’
            Adverb ‘shortly’ modifies the verb ‘delivered’.

Underline the adverbs in the following sentences and identify what they modify – verb, adjective, or adverb.

1. He is incredibly rich.____________

2. They continued staring hopefully at the old man. ___________

3. Diana spoke quite pleasantly to the young man. ____________

4. Patricia has an interview tomorrow. ____________

5. We loved to dine upstairs in the hotel’s dining room. __________


Types of Adverbs

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1. Adverb of Manner: These adverbs tell us how an action is done. 

         Example: He quickly moved around the hall. [moved how?  quickly]

2. Adverb of Place: These adverbs tell us where the action is done. 
         Example: We have stayed here for a long time. [stayed where? here]

3. Adverb of Time: These adverbs tell us when the action is done.

         Example: The police officers arrived soon. [arrived when? soon]

4. Adverb of Degree: These adverbs indicate to what level or extent the action is done.

         Example: Lisa is very excited to see the bald eagles. [excited to what degree? very]

5. Adverb of Frequency: These adverbs indicate how frequently the action is performed.

        Example: He always complains that he never gets the chance to participate in any competition. [complains how often? Always]

Look at the pictures and make sentences using these adverbs. Also write what kind of Adverb is used in each sentence.

    Baby Sleeping         comfortably - _________________________________________

    Rising Sun              always - _____________________________________________

     Week Days              before - ____________________________________________

     Boy with Spoon & Fork            very eagerly - _________________________________________

    Boy Thinking         why - _______________________________________________

List of Adverbs

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1. Adverbs of Manner: quietly, contentedly, happily, sadly, excitedly, wonderfully, beautifully, slowly, cleverly, intelligently, kindly, cruelly, etc.
   These adverbs are mostly formed by adding the suffix ‘-ly’to an adjective.

2. Adverbs of Place: there, here, wherever, where, up, down, across, aside, etc.

Some of these adverbs (down, across, aside etc.) are prepositions. The difference is prepositions require objects, but adverbs do not.

3. Adverbs of Degree: quite, somewhat, rather, pretty, too, very, nearly, almost, etc.

4. Adverbs of Time: after, before, when, tomorrow, yesterday, today, already, still, still, just, yet, late, etc.

5. Adverbs of Frequency: often, always, usually, sometimes, rarely, ever, sometimes, never, etc.

Read the sentences in column A and match them with the type of adverb used.

 A                                B                             
 1. Tomorrow, we are going to Washington for vacation.   Adverb of Manner  
 2. The mountain roads are terrifyingly steep. Adverb of Place
 3. Loisel searched for the diamond necklace everywhere.   Adverb of Time
 4. Reading silently is a good practice.  Adverb of Frequency 
 5. We usually have our dinner together.  Adverb of Degree

Examples of Adverbs

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Let’s now see how adverbs are formed.

1. An adverb is often formed by adding suffix ‘-ly’ to an adjective
        Adjective                Adverb           
 Sad  sadly 
 Bad  badly
 Clever  cleverly 
 Kind  kindly
 Soft  softly
 Beautiful  beautifully 
 Low  lowly
 Loud  loudly
 Quick  quickly
 Wise  wisely
 Careless  carelessly 
 Graceful  gracefully
 Hopeless  hopelessly 
 Grave   gravely
 Strange  strangely
 Vigorous  vigorously
 Thorough  thoroughly
 2. Suffix ‘-wise’: with regard to
       Length                   lengthwise      
       Other        otherwise
       Clock        clockwise

 3. Suffix ‘-ward’: in a direction
         Back                   backward      
         For        forward
         Up        upwards
         Down         downwards

 4. Suffix ‘-ce’:

          One                      once          
          Three            thrice 
  5. Prefix ‘a-‘:

           Head                     ahead       
           Loud             aloud
           Long             along
           Round              around 
           Broad             abroad
           Way             away


1. Use Suffix or Prefix to form Adverbs:

          a. generous

          b. gentle

          c. thorough

          d. careful

          e. angry

          f. anxious

          g. side

          h. hasty

          i. dramatic

          j. terrible

2. Underline all the Adverbs in each sentence. If there is no Adverb in a sentence write ‘none’ on the line to the right.

1. If I were very rich, I would travel to Paris.                                                                

2. Presently, the company is losing its profit.                                                                 

3. Mark and his family were extremely upset and searched for Melissa everywhere.                

4. While preparing to go on an expedition, we heard that a forest fire had started nearby.         

5. Reluctantly, the manager accepted the secretary’s resignation.                                        

6. The idea of climbing sheer rock faces and dangling from ropes did not greatly appeal to Bert. 

7. Robert swiftly organized a meeting to address all his team members.                                  

8. Sally was trapped inside the cabin for several hours.                                                          

9. The speaker spoke loudly so that everyone could hear him.                                                

10. Students were anxiously waiting for their results.                                                             

Adverb Placement

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  1. An adverb may appear in various positions in a sentence. When modifying a verb, an adverb may appear
  • at the beginning of the sentence (before the subject)
  • in the middle of the sentence (between the subject and verb)
  • at the end of the sentence (after the verb/object)


1. Before the subject: Unfortunately, the ambulance arrived late and the patient died on the way.
2. Between the subject and the verb: Danny voluntarily offered help to an old man to cross the road. 

3. After the object: Poe fell and hurt his leg badly.

  • When modifying an adjective or another adverb, an adverb appears directly before the modified word.

                  Examples: The weather has been unusually cold.

                                   Alice danced really well

  • Adverbs have the ability to pop up anywhere in a sentence, but the meaning of a sentence may become obscure or ambiguous.                  

        Let’s look at an illustration for that. 

                                       Students who skip classes often score poor grades. 

Does the sentence mean that students who frequently skip classes score poor grades? Or that it was students who skip classes will score poor grades frequently? 
  • We can’t tell which part of the sentence the word ‘often’ is supposed to modify.
  • To fix this confusion, reposition the adverb so that it clearly modifies one word or phrase only. 
Take a look at these revisions. Read carefully and find out what each sentence intends to convey.

Sentence 1: Students who often skip classes score poor grades. (Students skipping classes frequently will score poor grades.)
Sentence 2: Students who skip classes score poor grades often. (Students skipping classes will always score poor grades.)

Did you get the difference in the meaning of each sentence?
Now you could definitely understand how adverbs change the meaning of your meaning if you put them in the wrong spot.

  • Limiting adverbs such as only, just, nearly, barely, almost are often used improperly in a sentence.  Be sure they precede the words they modify.
          a. Only, I saw Jack yesterday. (Just “I” and nobody else saw him.)

          b. I only saw Jack yesterday. (I only saw him, but didn’t talk or do anything else.)

          c. I saw only Jack yesterday. (I saw nobody else except Jack.)

  • The adverb ‘enough’ generally follows the word it qualifies.
           Example: The visiting team was strong enough to beat the home team.

  • The adverbs ‘seldom’, ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘ever’, ‘often’, ‘sometimes’ etc. generally precede the verbs they qualify. 
           Example: Raymond seldom comes late to the school.

Rewrite the sentences by placing the adverbs correctly.

       1. Kim was respected for his honesty. (deeply)

       2. We must leave extremely early. (tomorrow)

       3. Have the people left? (already)

       4. Judy handed me one dollar. (only)

       5. Stan turned into a dead end. (almost)

Write whether the underlined adverb is describing when, where, how, or to what extent an action is performed.

1. Jeremy quickly ate his lunch. ________________

2. Kaylee often reads books about vampires. ________________

3. Olivia immediately came to the rescue. ________________

4. Marcus slowly walked to the barber shop. ________________

5. Sometimes Martin goes to the museum. ________________

6. The team has almost completed the report. ________________

More topics in Adverbs
Conjunctive Adverbs Adverb of Degree
Adverb of Frequency Adverb of Time
Adverb of Place Adverb of Manner
Identifying Adverbs Relative Adverbs
Adverbs of Certainty Interrogative Adverbs
Viewpoint and Commenting Adverbs
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