Chapter 1-8: What is an Adverb?


An adverb can modify a verb, an adjective, another adverb, a phrase, or a clause. An adverb indicates frequency, manner, time, place, cause, or degree and answers questions such as "how," "when," "where," "why," "how much," "under what conditions," and "to what degree?"

While some adverbs can be identified by their characteristic "ly" suffix, most of them must be identified by untangling the grammatical relationships within the sentence or clause as a whole. Unlike an adjective, an adverb can be found in various places within the sentence. Adverbs always come before an adjective, but some adverbs come before the verb while other adverbs are placed after the verb. Never put an adverb between a verb and the direct object.

In the following examples, each of the highlighted words is an adverb:

The seamstress quickly made the mourning clothes.

In this sentence, the adverb "quickly" modifies the verb "made" and indicates in what manner (or how fast) the clothing was constructed.

The midwives waited patiently through a long labour.

Similarly in this sentence, the adverb "patiently" modifies the verb "waited" and describes the manner in which the midwives waited.

The boldly spoken words would return to haunt the rebel.

In this sentence, the adverb "boldly" modifies the adjective "spoken."

We urged him to dial the number more expeditiously.

Here, the adverb "more" modifies the adverb "expeditiously."

Unfortunately, the bank closed at three today.

In this example, the adverb "unfortunately" modifies the entire sentence.

He gently closed the door. He closed the door gently. He closed gently the door.

Here, the writer makes sure not to place the adverb between the verb and the direct object.

Cover the food and refrigerate overnight. Then, you can serve it for breakfast downstairs.

Observe that the words "overnight" and "downstairs" are not divided into two words.


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