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Adverb

In English, words are grouped into word classes based on the function they perform in a sentence. There are nine main word classes in English; nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, pronouns, determiners, conjunctions, and interjections. This explanation is all about adverbs.

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In English, words are grouped into word classes based on the function they perform in a sentence. There are nine main word classes in English; nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, pronouns, determiners, conjunctions, and interjections. This explanation is all about adverbs.

What is an adverb?

Adverbs are words that give more information to other words, adding to their meaning with details relating to place, time, manner, circumstance, or cause. Adverbs are most commonly used to describe a verb; however, they can also modify adjectives, other adverbs, or clauses.

Examples of Adverbs

There are plenty of adverbs in English, including:

  • Go play outside!

  • She runs daily

  • He almost left his girlfriend behind

  • He ate very quickly

  • We walked slowly

  • Suddenly, I saw what I had been waiting for

Notice how the adverbs provide us with extra detail.

How to use adverbs

Adverbs can be used in several different places and perform several different jobs in a sentence. For this reason, it can sometimes be hard to pin down exactly which words are adverbs. There are three main uses for adverbs; modifying, intensifying, and connecting.

Modifying adverbs

Modifying adverbs are the most well-known adverbs - they add further information about a word. They are mostly used to modify verbs but may also modify adjectives and other adverbs. Let's look at some examples.

Examples of modifying adverbs

  • She ran quickly

  • I'm travelling tomorrow

  • Drive carefully!

  • Put your hands up slowly

Connecting adverbs

Connecting adverbs, also called linking adverbs or conjunctive adverbs, are used to connect clauses or sentences. They show a transition, a cause and effect relationship, or a contrast between two clauses. Examples include:

  • I drank too much coffee; therefore, I couldn't sleep during the night.

  • I stayed awake; meanwhile, my friends were asleep.

  • In the morning, I was exhausted. Nonetheless, I went out to the zoo.

  • I didn't see many animals; instead, I fell asleep in the monkey exhibit.

Notice the structure of the sentences - the adverbs often come after a full stop or after a semicolon when they are connecting two independent clauses. They are nearly always followed by a comma.

Intensifying adverbs

Adverbs may also strengthen the meaning of an adjective, another adverb, or a verb. In other words, they 'intensify' another word. These are called intensifying adverbs, but you may also know them as 'intensifiers'.

Examples include:

  • He did remarkably well on the test

  • I was very anxious to meet the new baby

  • The car was ridiculously expensive

  • It is highly unlikely that I am wrong

Intensifying adverbs can also show degrees of comparison. This may be to a higher degree, e.g. 'the stars were extremely bright', or to a lower degree, e.g. 'the stars were barely visible'.

Adverb, Image of giraffe, StudySmarterFig 1. The VERY tall giraffe

Types of adverbs

Now we know how and why we use adverbs, let's look at the different types of adverbs.

The most common types of adverbs are;

  • Adverbs of place (or 'space')

  • Adverbs of time

  • Adverbs of manner (or 'process')

  • Adverbs of frequency

  • Adverbs of degree

  • Adverbs of purpose

  • Adverbs of probability

Adverbs of place

Adverbs of place are the 'where' adverbs. They answer the question 'where is the action taking place?'. Adverbs of place may also be called adverbs of space or spatial adverbs.

Here are some examples:

  • She eats outside

  • The pirate went below the deck

  • A parrot lives upstairs

  • It was nowhere to be found

Adverbs of time

Adverbs of time are the 'when' adverbs. They answer the question 'when is the action done?'. Adverbs of time are often placed at the beginning or the end of a sentence. If we want to emphasize when the action is done, it is most effective to put the adverb at the beginning of the sentence.

Here are some examples:

  • She ate this morning

  • I've already seen this film

  • I'll do it tomorrow

  • Get out of my igloo now!

adverb adverbs of time StudySmarterFig 2. Adverbs give us information on time-

Adverbs of manner

Adverbs of manner are the 'how' adverbs. They answer the question 'how is the action performed?'.

Examples of these adverbs include:

  • She ate quickly

  • I politely excused myself

  • He patiently waited for me

  • I danced awkwardly

Adverbs of manner often end with the suffix '-ly'

Adverbs of frequency

Adverbs of frequency are the 'how often' adverbs. They answer the question 'how often is the action done?'.

  • She eats every day

  • The dog is usually a good boy

  • He never barks or bites

  • He always plays fetch with me

Adverbs of degree

Adverbs of degree describe the degree to which an action was carried out. They answer the question 'how much' or 'to what extent is the action of the verb done?'. Adverbs of degree are usually intensifiers.

  • The girl ate everything on the table

  • Her father had enough

  • I was completely shocked

  • The girl felt terribly ill

Adverbs of purpose

Adverbs of purpose explain why an action takes place. They are usually infinitive phrases, meaning they begin with the infinitive form of a verb, e.g. to sit, to walk, to see.

  • She went to her mum's to eat dinner

  • They phoned the restaurant to book a table

  • To avoid an argument, she left the party

  • He went to his room to read his book

Adverbs of probability

Adverbs of probability give information regarding the likeliness an event will happen.

  • They will probably come later

  • It's unlikely to rain today

  • He can't possibly be serious

  • Surely she knew this would end badly

Adverbs and suffixes

Suffixes can often indicate what word class a word belongs to. They may be used to convert one word class into another word class. For example, the suffix -ly can often change an adjective into an adverb.

Adverbs, table of suffixes, StudySmarter

There are suffixes that are typical for each word class; for adverbs, standard suffixes include -ly, -wards, and -wise.

Here are some examples:

Adverbs, table of suffixes, StudySmarter

It is important to note that some adverbs do not have any suffixes; instead, they act alone, e.g. just, here, now, therefore, soon, nevertheless, always, never, tomorrow.

Adverbial phrases

An adverbial phrase is a group of words that function as an adverb. This phrase can modify a verb, adjective, or adverb to give more information. Examples of adverbial phrases include:

  • 'The child ran down the road '- The adverbial phrase 'down the road' provides us with information about where the verb was done.

  • 'He waited until summer to get healthy' - The adverbial phrase 'until summer' provides us with information about when the verb was done.

  • 'I wanted to go to the beach due to the lovely weather' - The adverbial phrase 'due to the lovely weather' provides us with information about why the verb was done.

  • 'Her mother called every single morning' - The adverbial phrase 'every single morning' provides us with information about when the verb was done.

As you can see in the examples, adverbial phrases are not simply adverbs; instead, they are a group of words that act as an adverb; they can provide information on where, when, why, how, how often, and how much.

Adverbs - Key takeaways

  • An adverb is a word that provides additional information on a verb, adjective, another adverb, or a complete clause.
  • Adverbs can be used in three ways; modifying, intensifying, and connecting adverbs.
  • Modifying adverbs provide extra information, e.g. 'quickly'. Intensifying adverbs strengthen the meaning of another word, e.g. 'very'. Connecting adverbs connect two clauses or sentences, e.g. 'therefore'.
  • Different adverbs include; adverbs of place, time, manner, frequency, degree, purpose, and probability.
  • Common suffixes for adverbs include -ly, -wards, and -wise; however, many adverbs are stand alone words.
  • An adverbial phrase is a group of words that functions as an adverb, e.g. 'I go to the gym twice a day'.

Frequently Asked Questions about Adverb

An adverb is a word that provides extra information about a verb, adjective, another adverb, or a full clause. This may be information about where, when, how, etc. a verb is done, or information about the intensity of an action.

Examples of modifying adverbs include ‘she ran quickly’, and ‘Drive carefully!’. Other types of adverbs include connecting adverbs, eg. ‘therefore’, ‘instead’ and intensifying adverbs e.g. ‘very’, ‘remarkably’.

Different adverbs include; adverbs of place, time, manner, frequency, degree, purpose, and probability.  

An adverbial phrase is a group of words that function as an adverb. This phrase can modify a verb, adjective, or adverb to give more information. E.g. 'I wanted to go to the beach due to the lovely weather'.

The phonetic spelling of adverb is - /ˈædvɜːb/


It sounds like - ad·vuhb

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