Home » Intermediate English Grammar » Adverbs


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Adverbs answer the questions who, what, where, when, why, how, and how many in a sentence. They modify adjectives, verbs, and other adverbs.

He is kind.He acted kindly towards me.
She plays a beautiful tune.She plays tunes beautifully.
They were a quick team.The team played quickly.
  • Chad answered the door sadly, knowing the mailman brought bad news.

In this sentence, sadly modifies how Chad answered the door. More details are revealed about Chad’s demeanor as he went to the door. Who answered the door, and where he was when he answered the door are known. A good deal of information is provided about this one incident in a sentence.

Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs; they rarely modify nouns. They tell how something happens or how somebody does something.

Adverbs are often formed from adjectives or nouns by adding the suffix –ly. Quick becomes quickly, sudden becomes suddenly, intelligent becomes intelligently, anger becomes angrily.

Note: Be careful because many adverbs do not end in –ly (for example, fast). Moreover, some adjectives end in –ly (for example, heavenly).

PrettyShe was a pretty girl.PrettilyThe bird sang prettily.
SeriousHe was a serious boy.SeriouslyThe policeman spoke seriously.
FastIt was a fast car.FastSchumaker drives fast.
QuietThey were quiet children.QuietlyThe woman spoke quietly.

Whole-Sentence Modifiers

Some adverbs modify a whole sentence, not just a part of one.

  • Luckily the car stopped in time.

In this sentence, luckily modifies the whole sentence; it shows that it was good luck that the car stopped in time.

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