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Using adverbs

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

  • She sang beautifully. (Here the adverb beautifully modifies the verb sang. It answers the question ‘How did she sing?’)
  • She is a very good singer. (Here the adverb very modifies the adjective good. It answers the question ‘How good a singer is she?’)
  • She sang very well. (Here the adverb very modifies another adverb well. It answers the question ‘How well did she sing?)

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.

  • She put the money in the box. (Here the prepositional phrase in the box has some adverbial function. It shows the place.)
  • He went to the market. (Here the prepositional phrase to the market serves as an adverb modifying the verb went.)

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.

  • After she finished that project, she started working on the next.
  • She worked hard because she wanted to pass.

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.

  • She went to the market to buy some vegetables. (Here the infinitive phrase to buy some vegetables explains why she went to the market.)
  • She ran to close the door. (Here again the infinitive phrase to close the door has an adverbial function.)

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.

  • Wear sneakers if you want to move more quickly.
  • You must learn to drive more carefully.
  • Work harder if you want to pass.
  • She talked less confidently about her new project.

Sections In This Article
Introduction To Adverbs
Formation of Adverbs
Adjectives or Adverbs - Confusing Cases
Adverbs of Certainty
Adverbs of Degree
Adverbs of Indefinite Frequency
Adverbs of Manner
Adverbs of Place
Adverbs of Time and Definite Frequency
Focusing Adverbs



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