Types of Adverbs in English

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The adverb is an independent part of speech.

Why do we need adverbs? The answer to this question lies in the very word adverb. After all, this word consists of two words:

ad + verb = adverb

ad is additional information for a verb.

Thus, an Adverb is what complements a Verb.

The diagram shows the meaning of the term adverb.
Adverb

What questions do adverbs answer?

An adverb describes the circumstances in which an action takes place (verb). An adverb shows us additional information about an action (verb).

An adverb is a part of speech that denotes an action. The adverb describes, characterizes the action giving us additional information about the action.

An adverb answers the following questions:

How?

The boy threw the ball hard.

How did the boy throw the ball? Hard. The adverb hard denotes an action threw giving us more information.

An example of an adverb in a sentence, questions that help define an adverb.
An adverb in an English sentence.

Where?

The boy’s house is there.

Where is the boy’s house? There. There it is an adverb. The adverb there denotes the verb “is” giving us additional information.

When?

The boy was at school in the morning.

When was the boy at school? In the morning. In the morning this is an adverb.

To what degree?

The boy is a little tired.

How tired is the boy? A little.

If we want to know more about any action, we need an adverb. An adverb contains this additional information. An adverb answers the following questions:

  • why?
  • when?
  • how?
  • where?
  • to what degree?
  • in what way?
The infographic shows a list of questions that help identify an adverb in a sentence.
Questions for the adverb.

An adverb enriches the verb with additional meaning. An adverb allows a verb to express information more precisely.

I can easily access it from his computers.

The party went badly.

I do my job calmly.

John jumps vigorously.

In a sentence, an adverb serves as a circumstance:

It looks good.

I haven’t thought about it lately.

An adverb can describe an adjective:

This is an excellent car.

An adverb can describe another adverb:

The athlete ran the distance pretty quickly.

Many of the adverbs end in -ly and answer the HOW question:

  • generally
  • briefly
  • bitterly

One of the main features of an adverb is the constancy of its form. An adverb does not change its form under the influence of verbs or adjectives in the sentence.

But not everything is so simple!

There are many adverbs in the English language and they have different endings, answer different questions, and are formed in different ways.

We divide adverbs into different groups to make adverbs easier to learn.

Scheme shows the endings of adverbs
Adverb endings

Functions of adverbs

The main function of an adverb is to describe a verb. But in addition to describing a verb, adverbs can define or describe:

  1. Adjectives.
  • too strict
  • very curious
  • completely incomprehensible
  1. Nouns.

He is slightly overwhelmed with his new position.

  1. Other adverbs.
  • very fast
  1. A whole sentence.

Unexpectedly, the fighter got to his feet.

When, Where, and Why we use Adverbs

Let’s take a look at the most common uses of adverbs.

  1. We use adverbs to describe an action.

John paints carefully.

  1. We use adverbs to characterize a trait.

Tom is very calm.

  1. We use adverbs to characterize another adverb.

The athlete run too quickly.

  1. We use adverbs to characterize the entire sentence.

Suddenly Jessica didn’t show up for the meeting.

  1. We use adverbs to express the speaker’s attitude to what he says.

Such adverbs emphasize the point of view of the speaker (viewpoint adverb).

Undoubtedly, you should trust me more.
Presumably, no one noticed my absence.

  1. We use adverbs as interrogative words.

We can start with such a word to ask a question for more information.

To do this, we most often use adverbs such as: why, how, when, where, etc.

Why are you doing this?
How can I help you?

An example of using an adverb, a boy helping a girl to stand up.
The adverb in a question.
  1. We use adverbs to connect two separate sentences.

In this case, we often use such adverbs as however, nevertheless, still, moreover, otherwise, etc.

I hurried home otherwise I might freeze.

  1. We use adverbs to combine the main clause and the subordinate clause in a complex sentence.

For this, we often use adverbs such as: how, why, when, where, etc.

Jessica didn’t know when her friend left the house.

How adverbs are formed

There are different ways of forming adverbs.

We can divide all adverbs into two groups.

  1. Adverbs that consist of one word.
  • well
  • quickly
  • softly
  1. Adverbs that consist of several words forming a phrase.
  • in a minute
  • in the back
  • every hour

We can also divide adverbs by structure. This way we get a lot more groups. Let’s take a look at these groups.

  • simple
  • derived
  • compound
  • composite

Simple adverbs

The group of simple adverbs includes adverbs that have only one part. We cannot separate such adverbs.

  • quietly
  • when
  • fast

Derivative adverbs

Derivative adverbs are adverbs that we form using suffixes and prefixes. More often, for the formation of derivative adverbs, we use such suffixes as:

-ly (this is the most commonly used suffix)
-most
-like
-fold
-ward
-wise

Examples of such adverbs:

  • badly
  • nearly
  • innermost
  • warlike
  • westward
  • likewise

He nearly promised them to me before.
You told me it went badly.

Complex adverbs

Complex adverbs are called complex adverbs because such adverbs have several parts.

I sometimes think that men and women move at completely different speeds.
I forget what we said afterward.

Compound adverbs

The last group includes compound adverbs. Such adverbs are called compound adverbs because these adverbs consist of several words.

  • at last
  • so that
  • in order to

You’re being logical at last.
We must continue changing in order to keep up.
They should be listed so that we know.

Note that these adverbs are made up of several separate words, for example, the adverb in order to.

Do not confuse adverbs of this group with adverbs that also consist of several words, but those words are not separate. For example the adverb westward.

Adverb groups by meaning

We can divide Adverbs not only by the way they are formed but also by the meaning of the adverbs.

The main types of adverbs are determined by the function they perform in the sentence and by the question to which they answer. So, we can divide adverbs into the following groups:

  • Adverbs of the mode of action
  • Adverbs of place
  • Adverbs of time
  • Adverbs of frequency
  • Adverbs of degree
  • Comment adverbs
  • Certainty adverbs
  • Intensifiers
  • Focus adverbs
  • Connective adverbs

Let’s take a closer look at these groups:

Adverbs of Place

Adverbs of place are adverbs that answer the question Where?

These adverbs indicate where exactly something is.

  • somewhere
  • anywhere
  • nowhere
  • here
  • where
  • inside
  • above
    Etc.

We heard a noise outside.
I was so bored that I decided to go somewhere.

The infographic shows a list of adverbs of place.
Adverbs of place.

Adverbs of manner

Adverbs of manner answer the question How?

These adverbs denote exactly how the action takes place.

  • accidentally
  • badly
  • brightly
  • busily
  • calmly
  • carefully
  • closely
  • correctly
  • eagerly
  • easily
  • elegantly
  • enormously
  • enthusiastically
  • exactly
  • faithfully
  • fast
  • fatally
  • fiercely
  • fondly
  • frantically
  • generously
  • gently
  • gladly
  • gracefully
  • greedily
  • hurriedly
  • inadequately
  • ingeniously
  • innocently
  • madly
  • mortally
  • mysteriously
  • neatly
  • nervously
  • openly
  • poorly
  • powerfully
  • promptly

The horse ran gracefully.

John read the book carefully.

the infographic shows a list of adverbs of manner.
Adverbs of manner.

Adverbs of time

Adverbs of time are adverbs that answer the question When?

These adverbs indicate, specify the time of an action.

  • before
  • lately
  • recently
  • now
  • when
  • then
  • yesterday
  • tomorrow
    etc.

I already met you recently.
Where were you yesterday?

Adverbs of frequency

Adverbs of frequency are adverbs that answer the question How often?

These adverbs indicate how often, with what regularity, something happens.

  • seldom
  • infrequently
  • usually
  • generally
  • occasionally
  • rarely
  • hardly ever
  • often
  • frequently
  • sometimes
  • periodically

I rarely see my parents.
I go to school five days a week.

The infographic shows a list and an example of adverbs of frequency.
Adverbs of frequency.

Adverbs of measure

Adverbs of degree are adverbs that answer the question To what degree?

These adverbs indicate the degree to which something is happening.

  • enough
  • hardly
  • scarcely
  • much
  • little
  • very
  • too
  • so
    etc.

I just know that Christopher misses you very much.

She is not singing loudly.

Comment adverbs

Comment adverbs are adverbs that help the speaker to express their opinion.

  • surprisingly
  • fortunately
  • seriously
  • unbelievably

Unbelievably, we still managed to see our idol.
Surprisingly, the team was able to win the game in the last minutes.

Certainty adverbs

Certainty adverbs are adverbs that help a speaker express the degree of confidence that the speaker is talking or thinking about someone or something.

We often put such adverbs after the verb to be or before the main verb.

  • probably
  • surely
  • certainly
  • definitely
  • undoubtedly

He probably doesn’t remember us anymore.
Children probably are walking outdoors.
Jessica has undoubtedly seen this man before.

Focus adverbs

We use Focus adverbs to highlight specific words.

Only my dog was able to follow all the commands.
Even Jessica forgot which movie we saw.

Connective Adverbs

Connective Adverbs are adverbs that help indicate a connection between two sentences.

Such adverbs create a logical transition from one sentence to another, from one idea to another.

  • Additionally
  • Furthermore
  • Moreover
  • In sum
  • In summary
  • In short
  • In other words
  • For example
  • For instance
  • Alternatively
  • However
  • Nevertheless

Egypt, for instance, has undertaken a new privatization program.
As a result, ignorance about the developing world remained high.
Nevertheless, your company was negligent in this case.

Rule and example of connective adverbs.
Connective adverbs.

Intensifiers

Intensifiers are adverbs that intensify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.

  • highly
  • rather
  • really
  • very
  • at all
  • so
  • too
  • totally
  • utterly
  • absolutely
  • completely
  • extremely

She was a very strict lady.
John spoke rather quietly.

Degrees of comparison of adverbs

Adverbs, like adjectives, have comparative and superlative degrees of comparison.

  1. Comparative.
  2. Superlative.

The comparative degree of comparison is when we compare objects on a common basis.

For example:

The red car goes faster than the black car.
John is taller than Jessica.
This box is bigger than that box.

We use superlative comparison when we single out one thing from the whole group. Something that has the most pronounced characteristic. For example:

The red car is the fastest among all cars.
John jumps the highest.
This box is the largest of all boxes.

Example of using an adverb of degree, brown box

In other words, we use comparative degree, to compare the attribute of one object with the attribute of another object or objects.

We use the superlative degree to compare objects to identify the object among all objects that has the most pronounced feature.

Do not be discouraged if this topic seems confusing to you right now. In fact, this topic is simple and you will definitely understand how and in what cases to use the comparative and superlative degrees.

We form comparative and superlative adjectives in different ways.

In order to form a comparative degree of Adverbs of manner (slowly, easily) and adverbs of frequency (often, sometimes) we put the word more in front of the adverb, and after the adverb, we put the word than.

more – adverb – than

It happens more often than you would think.
Tom speaks more slowly than Bill.

To form a superlative, we put the most in front of the adverb.

the most + adverb

This is the most recently recorded rate.

What should we do if we want to show the opposite degree?

In this case, we use the opposite in meaning word less instead of more.

less – adverb – than

Women are less likely than men to go to a hospital in emergencies.

For superlatives, we use the least instead of the most.

the least + adverb

We behave the least rationally.

If an adverb has the same form as an adjective (early, fast, etc.) then we compare such an adverb using the rules that we use to compare adjectives.

For comparative degree, we just add the -er ending.

For the superlative degree, we add the ending -est to the adverb, and we put the article before the adverb.

earl – earlier – the earliest

late – later – the latest

In English, there are not only rules but also exceptions to these rules. Let’s look at the exceptions to the rules for the formation of the degree of comparison of adverbs.

In the English language, some adverbs form degrees of comparison according to their own rules.

It is impossible to understand this logic. Therefore, such adverbs just need to be learned.

well – better the best
badly – worse the worst
little – less least
much – more most
well – better best
far – farther farthest (in the meaning of distance)
badly – worse worst

You have to listen to me because I know this better than you.
The athlete in the green jersey ran the farthest.

The infographic shows the rule and adverbs that form the degree of comparison according to specific rules
Special Adverbs in English.

“The” in everyday speech

To form superlative adjectives, we use the article the.

the most important
the most frequently
the least efficiently

But we often do not say the article in everyday, informal speech. Especially in phrases like the best.

He’s probably the best musician in the world right now.
He’s probably best musician in the world right now.

as + adverb + as

We can compare adverbs not only with the help of the rules and formulas that you can see above. We can compare adverbs using the useful and simple formula:

as + adverb + as.

When we form a comparison using the formula as + adverb + as we DON’T CHANGE the adverb itself. The adverb remains in its original form.

John looks as good as you do.
Today I don’t have as much as yesterday.

Formula for the formation of the degree of comparison using the as + adverb + as scheme
as + adverb + as

Strengthening or weakening the comparative degree

We can use the comparative degree to show the difference between the objects we are comparing:

I play football better than my friends.
You look better in this jacket.

In these examples, we are comparing objects using the adverb better.

But we can also strengthen or weaken an adverb.

We can strengthen or weaken an adverb with additional words such as:

  • a lot
  • far
  • much
  • a bit
  • a little
  • slightly
    etc.

I play football much better than my friends.
I play football a little better than my friends.
I play football slightly better than my friends.

You look slightly better in this jacket.
You look much better in this jacket.
You look a little better in this jacket.

This way we can describe the meaning more accurately.

Place of an adverb in a sentence

In English, there is no single rule that would explain the place of an adverb in a sentence.

We put different adverbs in different places in a sentence: at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end.

The place of an adverb in a sentence depends on:

  • What the adverb describes.
  • With what words the adverb is used.

Place in the sentence of adverbs of place

Adverbs of place are adverbs such as:

  • over
  • there
  • towards
  • under
  • up
  • above
  • away
  • back
  • behind
  • below
  • down
  • far
  • here
  • inside
  • near
  • nearby
  • out
  • outside

We usually put adverbs of place at the beginning or end of a sentence.

May I go visit my friend? He lives nearby.

Attention, if the sentence contains both adverbs of place and adverbs of time, then we must use them in this order:

At the beginning we put the adverbs of place, then the adverbs of time.

Place in the sentence of adverbs of time

Adverbs of time are adverbs such as:

  • frequently
  • generally
  • normally
  • for three days
  • for a week
  • for several years
  • occasionally
  • often
  • regularly
  • usually

We usually put adverbs of time at the beginning or end of a sentence.

I will come to visit you next week.
I will come to you sometimes.

We can put some monosyllabic adverbs before the main verb or after the auxiliary verb. Even if it’s auxiliary to be. These are such adverbs for example:

  • then
  • soon
  • now

Attention, if the sentence contains both adverbs of place and adverbs of time, then we put them in the following order: We put the adverbs of place before the adverbs of time.

Place in a sentence of adverbs of manner

Adverbs of manner are such adverbs as:

  • Badly
  • Normally
  • Quickly
  • Personally
  • Rapidly
  • Carefully
  • Cheerfully
  • Carelessly
  • Mostly
  • Happily
  • angrily
  • clearly
  • closely
  • correctly
    etc.

Adverbs of manner do not have a fixed place in a sentence. They can be placed:

  • After an auxiliary verb.
  • Before the main verb.
  • At the end of the sentence.

She sang beautifully.
We will study its findings and recommendations closely.
The numbers tell the story clearly.

Place in a sentence of adverbs of degree

Adverbs of degree are such adverbs as very, quite, rather, absolutely, etc.

Adverbs of degree may appear before:

  • Adverb.
  • Adjective.
  • The main verb.

But adverbs of degree comes after the auxiliary verb.

I left rather abruptly.
Whatever you said is absolutely right.

Place in a sentence of adverbs of frequency

Adverbs of frequency are such adverbs as:

  • seldom
  • usually
  • always
  • often
  • normally
  • occasionally
  • never
  • once in a lifetime
  • three times a day
    etc.

We usually put adverbs of frequency before the main verb but after the auxiliary verb. Even if the auxiliary verb is to be.

I never regretted anything I did.
I often forget my car keys.
You always complain about your little brother.

Place of adverbs in a sentence. Additional information.

Adverbs that define not a word, but an entire sentence, we usually put at the beginning of the sentence or the end of the sentence.

Probably I will not be able to pass the exam because I prepared very badly.

I forgot to call you, unfortunately.

In what order should you put adverbs if there are two or more adverbs?

If we have two or more adverbs in one sentence, then we usually put them in this order:

  1. adverb of manner
  2. adverb of place
  3. adverb of time

If in such a sentence there is a verb of movement, then we usually put adverbs in this order:

  1. adverb of place
  2. adverb of manner
  3. adverb of time.

Flat adverbs / Bare adverbs

In English, there is a group of adverbs called Flat adverbs. Sometimes these adverbs are called “bare adverbs” or “simple adverbs”.

Flat adverbs are adverbs that have the same form as the corresponding adjective.

Here are some examples of such adverbs:

  • high
  • long
  • low
  • far
  • fast
  • fine
  • hard
  • near
  • quick
  • slow

Such adverbs do not usually end in -ly.

  • run slow
  • run fast

Many people used to think of these adverbs as adjectives because they don’t have the -ly ending.

In the past, Flat adverbs were used a lot. Now we have replaced many Flat adverbs with adverbs that end in -ly. But some Flat adverbs are still in use.

Let’s take a look at such adverbs.

Far is one of the most famous Flat adverbs. Far does not have a form ending in -ly.

You are looking too far into your future, live for today.

Fast is also Flat adverbs. Fast has no form ending in -ly.

You can run very fast.

The adverb flat is a flat adverb. Because the flat form with the -ly ending and without the -ly ending has different meanings:

They say she turned you down flat.

If I lay flat on the bed, I fall asleep.

He flatly refused her requests.

Hard is another adverb that has different meanings with -ly and without -ly.

He got hit hard because of Toby’s mistake.
We hardly had enough cake for every boy.

Kind is also an adverb that has different meanings with -ly and without -ly.

Be kind to your friends.
Speak kindly of your friends.

Quick is an adverb that we can use with the -ly ending and without the -ly ending the same way. The ending -ly does not change the meaning of the adverb.

Come on, we have to be quick.
If you want to go quickly, go alone.

Smart also has two forms with the -ly ending and without the -ly ending. These forms are slightly different in meaning.

Act smart and you will win.
How about that smartly dressed youngster in the front row?

Slow. It is an adverb that we can use with the -ly ending and without the -ly ending the same way. The ending -ly does not change the meaning of the adverb Slow.

Please, run slow.
Please, run slowly.

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