Common Mistakes In The Use Of Adverbs

In this lesson we will learn about some common mistakes in the use of adverbs.

Incorrect: She worked hardly and passed the test.

Correct: She worked hard and passed the test.


Hardly means almost not. It has a negative meaning.

Incorrect: Presently all of them disappeared soon.

Correct: Presently all of them disappeared.

Correct: All of them disappeared soon.


Presently means in a minute.

Incorrect: He is very much sorry.

Correct: He is very sorry.

Incorrect: I am very much worried about his health.

Correct: I am very worried about his health.

Incorrect: The situation is very much serious.

Correct: The situation is very serious.


Very is used without much before an adjective or adverb in the positive degree.

Incorrect: She is very older than her husband.

Correct: She is very much older than her husband.


Before a comparative adjective, we use very much, not very.

Incorrect: This movie is quite more interesting than the other movie.

Correct: This movie is a lot more interesting than the other movie.


We do not use quite before a comparative adjective.

Incorrect: He told everything in details.

Correct: He told everything in detail.


In detail means in depth or thoroughly.

Incorrect: This book is too interesting.

Correct: This book is very interesting.


The word too has a negative meaning. We do not normally use it to mean very.

Incorrect: He behaved cowardly.

Correct: He behaved like a coward.

Correct: He behaved in a cowardly manner.


The word cowardly is an adjective. It cannot be used to modify a verb. There is no adverb 'cowardly/cowardlily'.

Incorrect: He comes late often to school.

Correct: He often comes late to school.


Frequency adverbs usually go before the main verb.

Incorrect: I feel badly about it.

Correct: I feel bad about it.


Feel is a copular verb. Copular verbs are modified by adjectives, not adverbs.

Incorrect: She walked slow.

Correct: She walked slowly.


We use an adverb to modify a verb. Slow is an adjective. It cannot be used to modify the verb walked.

Incorrect: He is so rich.

Correct: He is very rich.


To simply give information we use very. So is mainly used to talk about information that is already known.

Incorrect: She resembles closely to his mother.

Correct: She resembles her mother closely.


Resemble is one of those verbs that are followed by direct objects without prepositions.

Incorrect: She speaks English good.

Correct: She speaks English well.


Good is an adjective; well is an adverb. We use an adverb to modify a verb.

Incorrect: Never I have seen such a sight.

Correct: Never have I seen such a sight.

Correct: I have never seen such a sight.

Incorrect: Hardly I have had any rest since last week.

Correct: Hardly have I had any rest since last week.

Correct: I have hardly had any rest since last week.


When a negative expression comes at the beginning of a sentence, it is usually followed by auxiliary verb + subject.

See also

Common writing mistakes
Six common mistakes found in ESL writing
Common errors with adjectives - part 1

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