English Grammar/Basic Parts of Speech/Adverbs

Summary of the Lesson


In the previous lesson, we know that an adjective can be used for giving more information about a noun. However, adjectives can only be used to modify a noun. If we want to modify a verb or an adjective, we need to use an adverb. Adverbs can also be used to modify another adverb or a clause. The following examples show how adverbs modify different parts of a sentence.

1. I clearly remember what happened. (An adverb modifying a verb.)

2. Is it really good for you?. (An adverb modifying an adjective.)

3. You are really very clever. (An adverb modifying another adverb. 'Very' is also an adverb.)

4. Interestingly, he did not discuss this topic at all. (An adverb modifying a sentence.)

An adverb that modifies and add emphasis to an adjective and another adverb is called an intensifier. Some intensifiers are barely, fully, hardly, little, quite, rather, really, scarcely, too and very.

An adverb that tells where (place or direction) the action took place is a directive adverb. Some idioms are formed by combining directive adverbs and verbs. Examples are check in, set off and breakthrough. (Note: An idiom should not be taken literally.)

Several nouns function as adverbs that answer the question Where? or When?. Examples of these nouns used as adverbs are afternoons, evenings, home, month, mornings, nights, today, tomorrow, week, year and yesterday.

Positions of Adverbs


Adverbs which modify adjectives or other adverbs usually immediately precede the words they modify. However, when an adverb is used to modify a verb, besides before the verb, it can also be placed after the verb, or even at the beginning or the end of a sentence. However, as we see in the following example, when an adverb modifying a verb occupies different positions, there can sometimes be subtle differences in meaning.

1. Quickly I ran away.

2. I quickly ran away.

3. I ran quickly away.

4. I ran away quickly.

Types Adverbs


Adverb of Place


An adverb of place tells where about the word it modifies.

Adverb of Time


An adverb of time tells when about the word it modifies.

Adverb of Manner


An adverb of manner tells how about the word it modifies.

Adverb of Frequency


An adverb of frequency tells to what extent about the word it modifies.