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Identifying Adverbs

Adverbs describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs - and they don’t need to be anywhere near the words they modify to get the job done. Adverbs can disguise themselves much more confusingly. Adverbs are probably the most versatile part of speech. They can even look like nouns. They can look many different ways, they can perform many different jobs, and they can appear just about anywhere in the sentence. When it comes to adverbs, be aware that they are masters of disguise. In short, whenever you find yourself looking at a word and wondering “What the heck part of speech is this word?” the safe bet is that it’s an adverb.

Consider the following three correct sentences:

    • I studied tirelessly all night. (Tirelessly is an adverb modifying the verb studied.)
    • I’m going to a concert tonight. (The word tonight is an adverb)
    • The movie was very sad. (Very is an adverb modifying the adjective sad.)
    • I handled the dynamite extremely gently. (Extremely is an adverb modifying the other adverb gently, which is modifying the verb handled.)
    • The cyclist pedaled very (adverb) swiftly (adverb).
    • That sounded like an extremely (adverb) interesting (adjective) plan.
    • Jake bought a pair of much-needed shoes.
    • Apparently (adverb), they had already left for Berlin (clause).
In short, understanding and identifying adverbs is easy—when you know what you're looking for.


What is an Adverb

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The Adverb is one of the most important parts of English Grammar. An adverb is a part of speech that describes or modifies a verb, an adjective, another adverb, clause, or sentence. An adverb typically describes a verb, adjective, or adverb. An adverb can be placed anywhere in a sentence. Adverbs may also modify adjectives or other adverbs. Adverbs are generally grouped into five categories namely Place, Manner, Time, Frequency and Degree. Most of them end in a suffix –ly to an adjective commonly turning it into an adverb. Place words and time words are all adverbs. An adverb that modifies an adjective or another adverb usually goes before that adjective or adverb. Using adverbs makes your sentences more precise and interesting

An adverb is a word that describes or modifies a verb, adjective, or adverb. It tells you how, when, where, to what extent or to what degree.

Some adverbs tell you how. These adverbs usually end in -ly.
  • How well does she play the accordion?
  • She plays the accordion splendidly.

Some adverbs tell you when.
  • When will he perform?
  • He will perform soon.

Some adverbs tell you where.
  • Where did she go?
  • She went downstairs.

Some adverbs tell you to what extent or degree.
  • To what extent or degree is he reasonable?
  • He is not reasonable.

It is impossible to tell by the appearance of a word that it is an adverb. Indeed, the same word may be an adverb in one sentence and a different part of speech, such as a noun or adjective, in another sentence. The only way writers can identify an adverb is by the work the adverb does in a sentence.

Adverbs in a Sentence
  1. The Adverb is one of the most important parts of English Grammar.
  2. An adverb can be placed anywhere in a sentence.
  3. An adverb typically describes a verb, adjective, or adverb.
  4. Adverbs are generally grouped into five categories namely Place, Manner, Time, Frequency and Degree.


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Read the sentence and underline the adverbs and adverbial phrases in each sentence.On the line after the sentence, write the verb that the adverb or adverb phrase modifies.

  • Alexandra practiced soccer frequently. _________________
  • She sings well. _____________
  • Jeffrey always wanted to be an astronaut._________________
  • Aaron’s father sang the song loudly._________________
  • The small girl eagerly licked her ice cream cone._________________
  • My parents will arrive tomorrow._________________
  • We skied on the tallest mountain._________________
  • Alice fell into the rabbit hole._________________
  • We expect rain all week._________________
  • The angry bear in the forest growled menacingly._________________
  • The captain quickly boarded the boat anchored in the harbor._________________
  • The show will begin soon._________________
  • The sneaky snake slithered swiftly and silently._________________
  • Jessica and Ashley are reading their books in the yard._________________
  • My next-door neighbors often visit their grandmother._________________
  • Janie and her friend play hopscotch on the sidewalk._________________
  • Herbert seemed unusually happy. _________________
  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is an exceptionally talented writer._________________
  • Ms. Katz plays tennis well._________________
  • Melba seldom loses her head._________________
  • Should I slice the chilies now?_________________
  • Annette cried out, “Don’t run so fast!”_________________
  • At formal occasions, Jake speaks properly._________________
  • A rather funny clown was juggling oranges._________________
  • Sue works unusually hard on Saturdays._________________
  • Franklin answered somewhat enthusiastically._________________
  • Florence occasionally eats sushi._________________
  • We will play a double-header tomorrow._________________

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