Chapter 6-1: Using Adverbs and Adjectives

Grammar > Modifiers > Adverbs & Adjectives


Adverbs are words that modify (describe) verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, and sometimes clauses and whole sentences.

Adverbs answer the questions:

  • "how?"

  • "when?"

  • "where?"

  • "why?"

  • to what extent—how often? how much? to what degree?


Adjectives are words that modify (describe) nouns and pronouns.

Adjectives answer the questions:

  • "what kind?"

  • "how many?" and

  • "which one?"

Some students may encounter some difficulty in knowing the differences between adjectives and adverbs. Be careful not to use an adjective where you need an adverb. Consider the following sentences:

[WRONG] Once the test was over, Sharon walked slow out of the classroom.

[RIGHT] Once the test was over, Sharon walked slowly out of the classroom.

The sentence needs an adverb, not an adjective, to modify the verb "walked."

[WRONG] We tried real hard to get the muffin mixture perfect.

[RIGHT] We tried really hard to get the muffin mixture perfect.

The sentence needs an adverb, not an adjective, to modify the adjective "hard."

(Note that "really" is an informal substitute for "very", and you should avoid in in formal essays.)

Using Too Many Adjectives and Adverbs

It's possible to over use these words for certain types of writing. For students finding it difficult to write under an assignment's maximum word count, the first they they should do is to revise their work by removing any unnecessary adjectives and adverbs. Remove them from the sentence and reread the sentence. As students reread, they should ask themselves, "does this sentence work fine without these extra words?" If yes, keep them out of the sentence.

Why, in 2019, even Pope Francis, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy decried the use of these words. On the use of adjectives, he stated:

I am allergic to those words. We have fallen into the culture of adjectives and adverbs and we have forgotten the strength of nouns. Why say authentically Christian? The mere fact of the noun Christian is strong; it is an adjective noun, yes, but it is a noun.

For the church communication is a mission. One of the things you must not do is advertising. You must not behave like human business that tries to attract more people. To use a technical word: you must not proselytize; it is not Christian to proselytize.

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