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Adverbs

You already know that adjectives modify nouns. For example: the blue house, our little brother, a silly poem. Adverbs are also modifiers, but they modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. You can easily identify adverbs because most end in -lyhappilyquicklyslowlybeautifully.

Most adjectives can be changed to an adverb by adding -ly to the end of the adjective. If the adjective ends in -y, change the -y to -i and then add -ly.

AdjectiveAdverb
badbadly
brightbrightly
coldcoldly
happyhappily
merrymerrily
speedyspeedily
suddensuddenly
wrongwrongly

There are a few adjectives and adverbs that have special forms and uses. One important one is good. If good means “kind,” it is only used as an adjective. Use kindly in place of it as an adverb. If good means “talented,” use well as its adverb. Careful! If well means “healthy,” it is not an adverb; it is an adjective.

good = kind:

  • He is a good man.
  • He spoke to us kindly.

good = talented:

  • Hayley is a good tennis player.
  • Hayley plays tennis well.

well = healthy:

  • I am glad that your father is well again.

There is only one form for the word fast. It is both an adjective and an adverb:

  • Lee is a fast talker. (adjective)
  • Lee talks fast. (adverb)

And note that the adverb home does not end in -ly:

  • We went home after work.

You can also identify adverbs by asking certain questions of the verb in a sentence. Ask howwhere, or when. The answer is an adverb.

How? Where? When?The Answer = Adverb
Jamal got quickly to his feet.
“How did Jamal get to his feet?”
quickly
She went home on the bus.
“Where did she go on the bus?”
home
They arrived punctually.
“When did they arrive?”
punctually

Some adverbs of time, which answer the question when, do not always end in -ly. Consider these words: todaytomorrowyesterdaytonightlateearlynever.

Certain adverbs, which often do not end in -ly, qualify the degree of the meaning of an adjective or adverb: quiteratherverysomewhattoo:

  • somewhat slowly = the slowness is not great but evident
  • rather slowly = the slowness is emphasized, but it is not extreme
  • quite slowly = the slowness is emphasized here
  • very slowly = the slowness is extreme
  • too slowly = the slowness is more than desired

Let’s look at how adverbs can modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs:

VerbsAdjectivesAdverbs
Justin walked slowly.It is an extremely strange idea.She ran very fast.
The boys drove home.I have a very bad cold.He sang too quietly.
Hannah laughed loudly.It was a rather stupid question.I sighed rather sadly.
Carmen writes carelessly.He was partially dressed.He smiled quite cheerfully.

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