An adverb is a word which modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.

What is an adverb?

You know verbs are action words. They tell us what someone or something is doing. For example, in the sentence "The cat runs," "runs" is the verb because it tells us what the cat is doing.

 Adverbs are words that describe or modify verbs. They give us more information about how the action in the verb is happening. For instance, in the sentence "The cat runs quickly," "quickly" is an adverb because it tells us how the cat is running.

But adverbs do not modify only verbs, they can modify adjectives and adverbs also. If you want to learn more about which words adverbs modify, read the 'Function of Adverb' section in this article

Adverbs can tell us about the time of an action (everyday, yesterday), the manner in which it's done (beautifully, sadly), or the frequency (always, never). For example:
  1. The dog is barking now
  2. She sings beautifully.
  3. They never play outside.

So, what is an adverb?

An adverb is a word used to qualify any part of speech except a noun or pronoun. -J. C. Nesfield
An adverb is a word which modifies the meaning of a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. -Wren & Martin

Adverb Questions

Adverb can answer some questions. They are called adverb questions. The adverb questions are: 

  1. "When?" 
  2. "Where?" 
  3. "Why?" 
  4. "How?"
  5. "To what extent?"

For example, in the sentence "She ran quickly," the adverb "quickly" modifies the verb "ran" and answers the question "How did she run?".

In another example, "He came yesterday," the adverb "yesterday" modifies the verb "came" and answers the question "When did he come?".

Functions of Adverbs

Do you know what an adverb does in the sentence? 

An adverb mainly does five things. 

1. Adverbs modify verbs: 

  • Cats run fast. ('fast' modifies the verb 'run')
  • Tortoise walks slowly. ('slowly' modifies the verb 'walks')

2. Adverbs modify adjectives: 

  • The rose is very large. ('very' modifies the adjective 'large')
  • She looks awfully smart. ('awfully' modifies the adjective 'smart')

3. Adverbs modify adverbs: 

  • Cats run very fast. ('very' modifies the adverb 'fast')
  • You never can work too carefully. ('too' modifies the adverb 'carefully')

4. Adverbs modify clauses 

  • Perhaps he is present, but I am not sure. ('perhaps' modifies the clause 'you are correct') 
  • Surely, he will be on time, but I hope not. ('surely' modifies the clause 'he will be on time') 

5. Adverbs modify sentences 

  • Suddenly, she went home. ('suddenly' modifies the whole sentence) 
  • Today, we can take a vacation. ('today' modifies a whole sentence)

Position of Adverbs

Adverbs have three positions in a sentence. They are: 

1. Front Position:

Some adverbs can appear at the front of a sentence, before the subject. Interrogative adverbs "when", "where", "why", and "how" always come in front position. 

  • Today we will study adverbs. 
  • Lately, I have had lots of phone calls. 
  • Where are you going?

2. Mid-position: 

Some adverbs appear in the middle of a sentence. They are called mid-position adverbs. Mid-position adverbs mainly appear between the subject and the finite verb. If the sentence has verb phrase (auxiliary verb + principal verb), mid-position adverbs appear between them (the auxiliary and the main verb).

  • He seldom goes to movies. 
  • I hardly noticed her. 
  • He is always disturbing me. 
  • You will never help me. 

3. End Position:

Many adverbs appear at the end of the sentence. They are called end position adverbs.

If the verb is intransitive, the adverb generally comes just after it.  

  • She ran fast
  • You answered very well

If the verb is transitive, the adverb goes after the object. We do not use adverbs between the transitive verb and its object.

  • I learn English slowly
  • I study adverbs now

Multiple End Position Adverbs:

There can be more than one end position adverbs in a sentence. In that case, we use adverbs of manner (M) + adverbs of place (P) + adverbs of time (T)

Types of Adverbs

Adverbs can be categorized into different types based on the kind of information they provide or the role they play in a sentence. Some common types of adverbs are: 

1. Adverbs of Manner

Adverbs of manner modify verbs. They tell us how something happens. They answer the question ‘how?’

  • The cat walked lazily
  • The team played well
  • She danced gracefully.
  • He speaks softly.
  • They worked diligently.

List: closely, carefully, quickly, slowly, almost, entirely, very,

2. Adverbs of Place

Adverbs of Place tell us where something happens. They answer the question ‘where?’

  • Don’t go outside
  • Stay here.
  • The cat jumped there.
  • I looked everywhere.

List: above, away, below, down, here, inside, there, up 

3. Adverbs of Time

Adverbs of Time tell us when something happens. They answer the question ‘when?’

  • It is raining now.
  • I’ll go home tomorrow
  • I will meet you tomorrow.
  • She arrived early.

List: early, soon, then, today, lately 

4. Adverbs of Frequency

Adverbs of Frequency tell us how frequently something happens. They answer the question ‘how often?’

  • He rarely comes here.
  • You are constantly disturbing me. 
  • I always brush my teeth before bed.
  • They rarely eat fast food.
  • He sometimes plays the guitar.

List: always, never, usually, frequently, sometimes, occasionally

5. Adverbs of Degree

Adverbs of Degree indicate the intensity of an action or quality. They modify verbs, adjective, or adverbs. They answer the questions 'how much' or 'to what degree'. 

  • He too weak to come here.
  • There worked very sincerely. 
  • It's very hot today.
  • He is quite tall.
  • She is extremely intelligent.

List: very, really, extremely, too, quite, deeply, greatly, hardly, highly, intensely, much, more, most

6. Adverbs of Reason

Adverbs of Degree tell us why something happens. It answers the question 'why?' 

  • He, therefore, left the company.
  • Therefore, we decided to cancel the event.
  • Consequently, he missed the train.

List: because, hence, lest, so, since, etc.

7. Conjunctive Adverbs 

Adverbs which connect two clauses are Conjunctive Adverbs. 

  • He was lazy. So, he failed in the exam. 
  • Children were playing. Meanwhile, parents relaxed. 

List: accordingly, also, anyhow, furthermore, however, moreover, otherwise, still, therefore. 

Note-1: If we use a conjunctive adverb between two independent clauses, we put a semicolon before the adverb and comma after it. 

  • I want to sleep; however, I need to study. 

If conjunctive adverb is used at the beginning of a sentence, comma is used to set it off. Note that the period takes the place of a semicolon. 

  • The day was over. Therefore, I went to sleep. 
8. Interrogative Adverbs 

Question words ‘when, where, why and how’ are Interrogative Adverbs, although they belong to the above types of adverbs also. 

  • Why are you so angry?   
  • When does the movie start? 
  • Why did you leave early?
  • Where is the nearest post office?
  • How did you learn to play the piano?

List: when, where, why, how

Online Quiz

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