Adverbs With Two Forms

In some cases, the adverb may have two forms, one like the adjective and the other with -ly. There is usually a difference of meaning or use. Some examples are given below.

Dead and Deadly

In certain expressions, the adverb dead is used to mean exactly, completely or very.

Examples are: dead certain, dead slow, dead right, dead drunk etc.

Deadly is an adjective. It means fatal, causing death. The adverb for this meaning is fatally.

  • Cyanide is a deadly poison.
  • She was fatally injured.

Fine and Finely

The adverb fine means well.

  • ‘How are you?’ ‘I am fine.’

The adverb finely is used to talk about small careful adjustments and similar ideas.

a finely tuned machine

Free and Freely

When used after a verb, the adverb free means without payment.

  • Buy two shirts and get one free.
  • Can I eat free in your restaurant?

Freely means without limit or restriction.

  • Speak freely.

Hard and Hardly

The adverb hard means heavily, severely or with difficulty.

  • You must work hard.

Hardly means almost not.

  • I have hardly any money left.

Late and Lately

The adverb late has a similar meaning to the adjective late. Lately means a short time ago and recently.

  • We will be late for dinner.
  • It is getting late.
  • I have not read anything lately.

Most and Mostly

Most is the superlative of much. It is used to form superlative adjectives and adverbs.

  • Those who have the most money are not always the happiest.
  • What pleased me most was his helping nature.

In a formal style, most can mean very.

This is a most (=very) interesting book.

Mostly means chiefly, generally or in most cases.

  • My friends are mostly non-smokers.

Real and Really

In informal American English, real is often used before adjectives and adverbs. It means the same as really.

  • That was real nice. (=really nice)
  • She sings real well. (=really well)

Sure and Surely

In an informal style, sure is often used to mean certainly. This is common in American English.

  • ‘Can I borrow your bicycle?’ ‘Sure.’

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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