English Grammar: Adverbs

English Grammar: Adverbs

Time for something a bit difficult: learning the use of adverbs in English.

This is a part of a basic series on English grammar. You can find the other posts below:

An adverb is a very similar part of speech to an adjective. Many native English speakers confuse the two. The difference is that an adjective tells you something about a noun, and an adverb tells you something about a verb (and sometimes they tell you something about adjectives or other adverbs).

Examples of adverbs are in bold:

  • The dog eats loudly.
  • The man slowly walks across the street.
  • Last year, I ran a race.

There are many types of adverbs:

  • Adverbs of manner
  • Adverbs of place or position
  • Adverbs of time
  • Adverbs of frequency
  • Adverbs of reason

Adverbs of manner are the most easily understood form of adverb. They tell you how the verb is done. These words come with the ending -ly. Examples are in bold:

  • I go quickly to the store.
  • I do not know sadly.

Adverbs of place tell us where the verb is happening or what direction the verb is happening. Examples are in bold:

  • I looked everywhere.
  • Africa is south of Europe.

Adverbs of time tell us when a verb happens. Examples are in bold:

  • He is going now.
  • Yesterday all our troubles seemed so far away.

Adverbs of frequency tell us how often the verb occurs. In general, these will also have an -ly ending, but not always. Examples are in bold:

  • What are you paid yearly?
  • Normally, adverbs are confusing.
  • I always run.

Adverbs of reason tell us why the verb occurs. Adverbs of reason are normally accompanied by entire clauses rather than standing by themselves. Examples are in bold:

  • Since that day, everything changed.
  • I ran to the station because I was running late.

As you can see, there are many types of adverbs. From the examples you can also see that there are many places you can put adverbs in a sentence. Sometimes they appear at the beginning of the sentence. Sometimes they appear at the end of the sentence. Sometimes they appear somewhere in the middle of the sentence. This is what makes adverbs one of the most difficult parts of speech.

Where the adverb is placed in the sentence depends on (1) what type of adverb it is and (2) whether the adverb is describing a verb or if it is describing an adjective/adverb.

The most simple are adverbs describing other adverbs or adjectives. These adverbs will go before the words they are describing. Examples are in bold:

  1. Your sunburn is really red.
  2. Quite regularly, I exercise.

In example 1, really is describing the adjective red. In example 2, quite is describing the adverb regularly.

If an adverb is describing a verb, the placement depends mostly on what type of adverb it is. We will go into further detail in this on a future post. For now you should know that adverbs of manner and adverbs of time can be placed at the end of the sentence:

  • I go quickly. – adverb of manner
  • She kisses him sweetly. – adverb of manner
  • I cleaned the apartment last month. – adverb of time

Adverbs are very difficult. If you would like to understand the placement adverbs better, check out the helpful video below:

Next we will be going over plurals in the English language. Continue here: 

Explore the LingoHut blog

Read the latest