Using Adverbs in English

There several ways to use adverbs in English. Adverbs are often used to describe how an action is done, and they can also tell us when and how frequently an action is carried out. They add detail to a sentence so ad + verb = adverb. Plus, they make writing more interesting.

WHAT IS AN ABVERB?

Example 1

‘The boy ran for the bus.’

The verb ‘ran’ tells us what action the subject (the boy) did. If we wanted to include more information about the boy we could include an adverb.

Boy Running - Simply Better English
Boy Running – Simply Better English

 

‘The boy ran for the bus frantically.’ This sentence gives us more detail about how the boy is running. It tells us that he is running and that he was anxious about catching the bus.

Example 2

‘I ate a doughnut.’ This sentence tells us what the person did.

‘I ate a doughnut quickly.’ The adverb ‘quickly’ gives more detail about how the doughnut was eaten. It tells us that the doughnut was eaten at a quick speed.

Example 3

‘He screamed.’ This sentence tells us what the person did too but does not give the reader any additional information.

‘He screamed loudly.’ This sentence tells us about the volume in which he screamed.

Adverbs vs. Adjectives - Simply Better English
Adverbs – Simply Better English

ADVERBS V. ADJECTIVES

Remember adverbs and adjectives do not have the same role in a sentence.

Adjectives: add detail by describing a noun or a pronoun.

Adverbs: add detail by modifying adjectives, verbs and sometimes adverbs too.

For example: ‘Mary ate her disgusting meal quickly.’

In the sentence above, the word ‘disgusting’ tells us what the meal tastes like. The word ‘quickly’ tells us how she ate the meal.

Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English

Try and unscramble the sentences below and see if you can place the adverbs in the right place.

  • walked awkwardly the supermarket to She.
  • reached He for lifelessly remote the.
  • wrapper opened Anne carefully the.

Answers

  • She walked to the huge supermarket awkwardly.
  • He reached for the remote lifelessly.
  • Anne opened the red wrapper carefully.

Now read the answers again. What do you notice about adverbs and what do you notice about where they are placed in a sentence? When you are finished read below to see if you noticed some of the key information about adverbs.

Did you notice this?

  • Lots of adverbs in English end with the letters ‘ly’.
  • Adverbs can be placed at the end of a sentence.

In English, adverbs can be placed at the beginning of a sentence too.

Example 4

‘Silently, he moved around the room’

‘He moved around the room silently.’

In both instances, the sentences are grammatically correct.

Example 5

‘Slowly, he prepared the meal.’

‘He prepared the meal slowly.’

Tip: although it is grammatically correct to place adverbs at the beginning of a sentence it does not always sound correct.

Example 6

  • ‘Quickly, Mary ate her food.’This sentence is grammatically correct however it does not sound like a sentence that a native English speaker would say. The sentence does not flow well.

Tip: as I have stated, there are several ways to use adverbs in English. I tend to include adverbs in English by using ‘ly’ adverbs at the end of a sentence. I think this is the safe option. Also, I think they sound more natural. However, this is more a question of style and the more that you read literature in English the more you will be able to get a feel for which instances adverbs are and are not used at the beginning of a sentence.

Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English

List of Adverbs

  • amazingly
  • awkwardly
  • beautifully
  • carefully
  • decisively
  • frantically
  • lifelessly
  • loudly
  • perfectly
  • quickly
  • slowly
  • spontaneously

Try to add an adverb to each of the sentences below.     

  • He walked down the street.
  • Tim ate his meal.
  • They went to the park.
  • Terry drove his car.

There are multiple ways that you could have used the adverbs.  Here are some possible answers.

  • He walked down the street awkwardly.
  • Tim ate his meal slowly.
  • They went to the park spontaneously.
  • Frantically, Terry drove his car.

Have you had fun working with adverbs? Let us know in the comments below. If you are looking for another challenge, try our quiz on using nouns in English.

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