Using adverbs

An adverb is essentially a modifier. It can modify a verb, an adjective or another adverb. Study the examples given below.

In the example sentences given above, the adverbs show the manner in which something is done. Adverbs may also tell us when, where, why, or under what circumstances something happens or happened.

Manner adverbs usually end in -ly. Examples are: quietly, kindly, pleasantly, hurriedly, nicely etc. However, many words that do not end in -ly are also adverbs. Examples are: here, there, now, then, soon, too, alsoetc. What’s more an -ly ending does not necessarily mean that a particular word is an adverb. A few adjectives also end in -ly. Most common examples of these adjectives are: lovely, lonely, motherly, friendly etc.

If a group of words acts as an adverb, it is called an adverb phrase. Prepositional phrases are frequently used as adverb phrases indicating time or place.

Note that a prepositional phrase is a group of words that begins with a preposition. Examples are: on the bed, in the evening and at the library. Most of them indicate ideas such as time and place and have an adverbial function.

Adverb clauses are word groups that have a subject and a verb. They are used to modify the verb in another clause.

Just like adverbs, adverb clauses also tell us when, where, why, how or under what conditions something happens or happened.

Infinitive phrases can also act as adverbs. They usually tell us why something happens / happened.


Adverbs can modify adjectives, but adjectives cannot modify adverbs. Adjectives are only used to modify nouns.

Most adverbs have comparative and superlative forms. We often use more and most, less and least to show degree with adverbs. Shorter adjectives have comparative and superlative forms ending in –er and –est.

See also

Common errors in the use of adverbs
Formation of adverbs

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