Caleb S.
Caleb S.

An Easy Guide on Adverbs: Definition, Use, Types & Examples

17 min read

Published on: Jun 3, 2024

Last updated on: Jun 19, 2024

part of speech adverbs

The standard adverb definition, according to the Dictionary, says: “any member of a class of words that modifies verbs or clauses, and in some languages, as Latin and English, modifies adjectives, other adverbs, or adverbial phrases.”

Adverbs are parts of speech that help us understand and express actions better. Without adverbs, our sentences might not fully explain what's going on. This blog will explore how we use them in sentences and the various types of this part of speech, with examples.

The Role of Adverbs in the English Language

In English, adverbs are used as words that describe how actions happen. They modify or describe verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. These parts of speech provide answers to questions like "how," "when," "where," "why," or "to what extent" an action occurs. 

Some adverbs are formed by adding "-ly" to an adjective. These typically describe how an action is performed. But, some don’t end with “ly”, such as soon, again, also, just, well, and very.

Let’s take a look at some examples of adverbs in sentences:

  • She ran quickly to catch the bus.
  • He spoke softly to avoid waking the baby.
  • They played happily in the park all afternoon.

Sometimes, adverbs can also be used to modify an entire sentence, such as:

  • Unfortunately, the concert was canceled due to bad weather.

How Adverbs are Used in Sentences

As we discussed before, adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, and complete sentences. We’ll explore these modifying properties of this part of speech along with examples. 

Using Adverbs to Modify Verbs

Adverbs modify verbs by providing additional information about how, when, where, why, or to what extent an action is performed. Here are some examples of adverbs modifying verbs in sentences:

  • She sings beautifully
  • He walked slowly
  • They laughed joyously.
  • The dog barks loudly
  • She speaks softly

All adverbs are bolded in the above examples. 

Using Adverbs to Modify Adjectives

Adverbs have the ability to modify adjectives as well. When an adverb modifies an adjective, it typically enhances the intensity or provides additional qualification to the adjective.

  • The cake is deliciously moist. 
  • He is extremely tall. 
  • The weather is quite cold.
  • She seems slightly anxious. 
  • The concert was exceptionally good. 

All adverbs are bolded in the above examples. 

Using Adverbs to Modify Other Adverbs

Adverbs can also modify other adverbs, to show how something happens in a sentence. Let's see how you can use adverbs to change the meaning or intensity of other adverbs. 

  • She dances remarkably gracefully
    • "remarkably" emphasizes the exceptional quality of her gracefulness.
  • They argued extremely passionately.
    • "extremely" intensifies the passion in their argument.
  • He plays the piano exceptionally skillfully
    • "exceptionally" highlights the exceptional level of skill in his piano playing.
  • The project was completed surprisingly quickly
    • "surprisingly" emphasizes the unexpected speed with which the project was completed.
  • She solved the puzzle incredibly quickly
    • “incredibly" intensifies the speed with which she solves the puzzle. 

In the above examples, every modifying adverb has been highlighted in red.

Note: Using adverbs to change other adverbs can make sentences too complex and hard to understand. It's best to use this sparingly to keep your writing clear and easy to follow.

Using Adverbs to Modify Sentences

We can also use adverbs to modify complete sentences. Such adverbs are known as sentence adverbs. Rather than focusing on specific details within, sentence adverbs describe the overall feeling or mood of a sentence.

Some common sentence adverbs are:

  • Thankfully
  • Naturally
  • Hopefully
  • Interestingly
  • Regrettably

Let’s see how you can use these adverbs to modify complete sentences.

  • After days of hard work and determination, I definitely finished the project, and I couldn't be prouder.
    • The adverb definitely emphasizes the completion of the project with certainty.
  • Certainly, we'll meet tomorrow at the café near the park, where we always have our weekly catch-up.
    • The adverb certainly shows confidence that the meeting will happen as planned.
  • Finally, after hours of waiting in the cold and uncertainty, he arrived with a smile on his face, bringing warmth to our weary hearts.
    • The adverb finally shows relief or impatience as the awaited event happens. 

The next section of this blog will discuss the different types of adverbs. 

Types of Adverbs

Adverbs can be categorized into several types based on the role they play in a sentence and the kind of information they provide. Here are the types:

  • Adverbs of Manner
  • Adverbs of Time
  • Adverbs of Place
  • Adverbs of Frequency
  • Adverbs of Degree

We’ll help you understand each adverb type one by one.

Adverbs of Manner

Adverbs of manner are words that describe how an action is performed or how something happens. They often provide more information about the verb in a sentence. These adverbs typically answer the question “how?” or “in what way?” 

Examples include adverbs like quickly, slowly, carefully, happily, etc. 

Here are a few examples of adverbs of manner in sentences:

  • She sings beautifully.
  • He runs quickly.
  • They danced gracefully.
  • The dog barks loudly.

When a verb acts on a direct object, adverbs that describe how the action is done should go before the verb or at the end of the sentence. They should not be placed between the verb and its object.

Let’s understand this with an example

Incorrect: She placed carefully the vase on the table.

Correct: She placed carefully the vase on the table.

In the incorrect example, the adverb carefully is incorrectly placed between the verb placed and its direct object the vase. Whereas in the correct sentence, the adverb carefully comes before the verb placed as per the rule.

Adverbs of Place

To provide information about the location of an action within the sentence, we use an adverb of place. These often answer the question “Where?” and usually occur after the main verb in a sentence. 

Examples include words like here, there, everywhere, nearby, inside, outside, etc., 

Let’s take a glance at some example sentences: 

  • She looked everywhere for her lost keys.
  • The cat is hiding nearby, waiting for the perfect moment to pounce.
  • Please come inside where it's warm.
  • The birds flew high above the treetops.

Adverbs of Frequency

An adverb of frequency is a word that indicates how often an action occurs. It gives information about the frequency or repetition of an action in relation to time. We can categorize adverbs of frequency into two subtypes. Let’s discuss the types along with adverbs of frequency examples. 

  • Definite Frequency: These specify how often something happens with clear time references like daily, weekly, or once a week.

For instance: She exercises daily to stay fit.

  • Indefinite Frequency: These express how often something happens without specific time references, such as always, often, or sometimes.

For instance: He often takes walks in the park to relax.

Adverbs of Time

These adverbs are used to describe or inform when something happens or is bound to happen. You can place them at the end of the sentence. 

Below are some adverbs of time examples in sentences:

  • They went to the beach yesterday.
  • They will leave for their vacation tomorrow.
  • The flowers bloom annually in spring.

Adverbs of Purpose

Also known as adverbs of reason, these adverbs describe why someone does something or the intention behind an action. They often answer the question "why?" or "for what purpose?". 

Some adverbs of purpose function as conjunctive adverbs, while some can also be used in the form of adverbial phrases. 

Here are some example sentences:

  • I woke up early to catch the train.
  • She studied hard in order to pass the exam.
  • He studied hard; therefore, he passed the exam

Adverbs of Degree

Adverbs of degree are words that make adjectives, adverbs, or verbs stronger or weaker. They show how much or how strongly something happens or exists. 

Sure, here are some common adverbs of degree along with example sentences:

  • She was very happy to see her friends.
  • The weather is extremely hot today.
  • It's quite chilly outside, so don't forget your jacket.
  • He was rather tired after the long hike.

These are the most common types of adverbs used in the English language. Some other types include:

  • Interrogative Adverbs: are used to ask questions about place, time, reason, or manner. Example: Where did you go yesterday?
  • Relative Adverbs: introduce relative clauses and describe a place, time, reason, or manner. Example: This is the place where we first met.
  • Conjunctive Adverbs: are used to connect clauses or sentences and show the relationship between them. Example: He finished his work; however, he still decided to go out.

Let’s now move on to the next part of the blog, where we will compare adverbs and adjectives. You need to understand the differences between them for better communication. 

Adverbs vs. Adjectives

We already know that adverbs modify verbs, adverbs, and adjectives. On the other hand, adjectives can only modify nouns or pronouns. Let’s compare both parts of speech. 

Feature

Adverbs

Adjectives

Definition

Modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.

Modify nouns or pronouns.

Modification

Describe how, when, where, or to what extent an action is done.

Describe qualities or characteristics of nouns or pronouns.

Example

He ran quickly to catch the bus.

She has a beautiful voice.

Placement

Can appear before or after the verb, or at the beginning or end of a sentence.

Typically appear before the noun they modify.

Comparative form

Often formed by adding "-ly" to adjectives.

Typically formed by adding "-er" or using "more" before the adjective.

Superlative form

Often formed by adding "-est" to adjectives.

Typically formed by adding "-est" or using "most" before the adjective.

Usage

Provide additional information about verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.

Provide additional information about nouns or pronouns.

In the next section, we will look at scenarios where you can or avoid using adverbs in your sentences. 

When Should You Avoid Adverbs?

Although adverbs are one of the most important parts of speech, there are circumstances when you should avoid using them. They are: 

  • When writing, avoid using adverbs excessively, especially when they don't add meaning or clarity to your sentence.
  • You should avoid adverbs when they weaken the impact of your verb or adjective.
  • If you can replace the adverb with a stronger verb or adjective, you should do so to make your writing more direct and engaging.
  • When editing your work, pay attention to sentences that rely heavily on adverbs, as they may indicate areas where your writing could be strengthened.
  • If you find yourself using adverbs repetitively, try rephrasing your sentences to eliminate unnecessary modifiers and make your writing clear.
  • You should be cautious with adverbs, as they can sometimes obscure your intended meaning or make your writing less effective.

In conclusion, this blog has explored the significance of adverbs in writing.  We've discussed different types of adverbs, how they modify words, and when it's best to avoid using them. Understanding these fundamental concepts can help improve your writing skills.

If you ever need some guidance with adverbs, feel free to come back to our guide! 

Looking for the Perfect Grammar Tool?

Having trouble with your writing? MyEssayWriter.ai offers a Grammar Checker that can help! It gives quick feedback on spelling, punctuation, and structure, guiding you to improve your language skills for clearer communication.

You can also get help from our AI essay writer with in-text citations to generate flawless essays according to your personalized requirements with just a few clicks. 

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Caleb S.

WRITTEN BY

Caleb S. (Mass Literature and Linguistics, Masters)

Caleb S. is an accomplished author with over five years of experience and a Master's degree from Oxford University. He excels in various writing forms, including articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As a valued author at MyEssayWriter.ai, Caleb assists students and professionals by providing practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style enhancement.

Caleb S. is an accomplished author with over five years of experience and a Master's degree from Oxford University. He excels in various writing forms, including articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As a valued author at MyEssayWriter.ai, Caleb assists students and professionals by providing practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style enhancement.

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