Adjectives with -ly Termination

What is the function of the “-ly” suffix or termination?

The “-ly” suffix or termination is a common way to form adverbs in English. A quick way to determine an adverb is by looking for the “-ly” suffix. It is because the conjugation or formation of regular adverbs from their adjective base form is by adding the “-ly” suffix.

Here are a few examples of adjective-to-regular adverb conjugation:

AdjectiveRegular Adverb
Adjectives and Regular Adverbs Table

However, not all words that end with “-ly” are adverbs. Some words ending with “-ly” are adjectives. Therefore, as adjectives, they function as describing words that modify nouns or pronouns.

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List of Adjectives with “-ly” termination, Definition, and Example Sentences

It can get tricky determining whether a word with “-ly” termination is an adjective or adverb. It’s why we created a list to help you out. Through the list below, you can improve your vocabulary and differentiate adjectives from other adverbs.

Adjectives With “-ly” TerminationMeaning / DefinitionExample Sentences
costlyrequiring a lot of money; expensiveIt is costly to buy a new car, but it is worth the investment.
cowardlysomeone who lacks courageThe cowardly dog hid under the bed when he heard a loud noise.
earthlyrelating to life on earthThe earthly colors of the sunset were breathtaking.
friendlykind and pleasant; showing goodwillShe was friendly and greeted everyone with a smile.
ghastlycausing fear; shockingThe ghastly ghost scared us out of our wits!
ghostlylooking or appearing like a ghostThe ghostly figure floated through the walls of the old castle.
goodlysizeable amount or quantityShe received a goodly amount of money.
heavenlyholy or divine; angelicHeavenly music filled the room as we danced.
homelycozy and comfortable like a homeThe homely cottage we rented was cozy and inviting.
kinglyrelating to a king; high-ranking person; royalThe kingly crown was made of gold and jewels.
livelyoutgoing; a place with exciting atmosphereThe lively party went on until the early hours of the morning.
lonelysomeone who feels isolated, alone, or without companionshipThe lonely man sat alone in the corner of the room.
lovelyhaving a pleasing appearance or qualities; attractiveThe lovely flowers added a splash of color to the garden.
manlyreferring to qualities of manHe was manly and brave when he faced his fears.
melancholya feeling of sadnessThe melancholy mood in the room was palpable.
oilysomething that contains oilMy sister cooked an oily meal, so I avoided eating it.
pricklysomething that is spiky or has thornsRoses are prickly, but they are one of the most beautiful things in the world.
saintlyrelating to a saint; godly; holyThe saintly woman helped those in need without asking for anything in return.
shapelysomething that has a pleasing, attractive shapeThe model had a shapely figure that made her stand out on the runway.
sicklysomeone with poor health; illThe sickly patient was too weak to get out of bed.
timelysomething that is done promptly or on timeWe made a timely decision to purchase a parcel of land.
unsightlynot visually pleasing; similar to uglyThe unsightly stain on the carpet was hard to remove.
wobblysomething that is unsteady; shakyThe wobbly bridge swayed back and forth as we crossed it.
worldlysomeone who has a great deal of knowledge and experience with the worldThe worldly traveler had seen many places and experienced many cultures.
Adjectives with “-ly” termination Table
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Adjective With “-ly” Termination or Suffix Exercise with Answers

 Choose the correct word in the box to complete the sentences below.

wobbly –  oily – lovely – costly- friendly – lively – ugly – sickly – ghastly – prickly

1. The monster Victor Frankenstein created is a _____________ creature.

2. We need to replace this ____________ chair.

3. Cactus is an example of a ______________ plant.

4. ___________ food is often considered unhealthy.

5. I gave the server a tip because of his ____________ personality.

6. He made a ______________ mistake when he decided to invest in the volatile stock market.

7. Her ______________ voice was a balm to his troubled soul.

8. The ______________ child was in stark contrast to her healthy siblings.

9. The market was bustling with activity. It creates such a _____________ scene.

10. The old house was ____________ and dilapidated.


1. The monster Victor Frankenstein created is a ghastly creature.

2. We need to replace this wobbly chair.

3. Cactus is an example of a prickly plant.

4. Oily food is often considered unhealthy.

5. I gave the server a tip because of his friendly personality.

6. He made a costly mistake when he invested in the volatile stock market.

7. Her lovely voice was a balm to his troubled soul.

8. The sickly child was in stark contrast to her healthy siblings.

9. The market was bustling with activity. It creates such a lively scene.

10. The old house was ugly and dilapidated.

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Adjective That Ends With “-ly” List

Here are more adjectives with the “-ly” ending that you must know to avoid mistaking them for adverbs:

Adjectives That End In -ly
Adjectives That End In -ly Examples Table

Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

Categorizing words following the English grammar parts of speech is a tricky task. As exemplified above, some words look like an adverb; but function as an adjective. It is essential to remember that adverbs usually modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs to avoid confusion. In contrast, adjectives modify nouns. As a learner, you must know how to identify the function of the word to be able to use them correctly. Below are common mistakes English learners commit and how mastering the function of words helps address those mistakes.

Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand Adjectives Usage, Coordinate Adjectives and Adjectives Definition and Examples.

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Common Mistakes Made by English Learners

1. Using adjectives with “-ly” termination as adverbs.

Observe the sentences below:

(a) He speaks friendly. (Incorrect)

(b) He speaks in a friendly manner. (Correct)

In the first sentence, “friendly” is used incorrectly because it is an adjective; therefore, should be used to modify a noun or pronoun, not a verb.

As mentioned above, knowing the function of a word helps you identify an adjective from an adverb. By observing the first sentence, we can see that “friendly” (an adjective) is placed beside the word “speaks,” which is a verb.

Some adjectives ending with “-ly” can be converted into adverbs using this formula: in + a + [adjective] + way or manner. Hence, in the second sentence, “friendly” became an adverb of manner describing how “he” speaks.

Another example of an adjective that can be converted into an adverb using the formula above is “timely.”

For example: 

(a) Jake submitted his project timely. (Incorrect)

(b) Jake submitted his project in a timely manner. (Correct)

2. Lovely is not an adverb

Most learners mistake “lovely” for an adverb. This misconception stems because the word ends with “-ly.” However, not all words with “-ly” termination are adjectives. “Lovely,” for example, is an adjective. Moreover, it does not have an adverb form.

Here are examples of a sentence using “lovely”:

1. The sunset was a lovely sight to behold.

2. Bea wore a lovely pearl bracelet to the party.

3. He gave her a lovely bouquet of flowers.

4. The children had a lovely time playing in the park.

5. She has such a lovely singing voice!

3. Using quality adjectives with “-ly” terminator as an adverb

Quality adjectives are adjectives that describe the quality of a person or thing. Examples of quality adjectives with a “-ly” terminator or suffix are: saintly, kingly, fatherly, motherly, brotherly, matronly, and sportsmanly. The common characteristic of the adverbs above is that they have nouns as root words. “Saintly” came from the noun “saint,” “brotherly” is derived from the noun “brother,” and so on.

Observe the sentences below:

(a) Peter treated me brotherly. (Incorrect)

(b) Peter treated me like a brother. (Correct)

(a) He saved my life saintly. (Incorrect)

(b) He saved my life like a saint. (Correct)

You can convert quality adjectives with “-ly” termination into adverbs as long as they have a noun root word. The formula for this is: like + a/an + root word of the adjective with “-ly” termination.

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Learning Adjectives with “-ly” Termination Strategies and Best Practices

Learning adjectives with “-ly” termination can be a tricky task. However, there are strategies and best practices that can help you understand and use them correctly.

First, it is crucial to remember that adverbs usually modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. In contrast, adjectives modify nouns. Knowing the function of the word helps you identify an adjective from an adverb. When you know how to determine if the word to be modified or described are noun, pronoun, verb, adverb, or adjective, constructing sentences using adjectives with “-ly” termination will be easier.

Novels, short stories, and other literary works are great sources of adjectives. Reading them can help you understand how these words are used in context. Through reading, you can widen your vocabulary and exercise your writing skills.

Finally, practice makes perfect. You can practice using adjectives with “-ly” termination by writing sentences or short stories. It will help you understand how to use them correctly and effectively.

Adjectives with “-ly” Termination Frequently Asked Questions

The “-ly” suffix or termination is a common ending for adverbs in English. It is used to convert adjectives to adverbs. For example, the adjective “quick” can be converted to an adverb by adding “-ly”, resulting in the adverb of manner “quickly”.

Yes, there are some adjectives that end with “-ly”. Examples include: friendly, lovely, ugly, wobbly, worldly, ghastly, prickly, oily, sickly, and costly. 

1. Brotherly
2. Lovely
3. Ugly
4. Wobbly
5. Cuddly
6. Sparkly
7. Lowly
8. Measly
9. Deadly
10. Shapely

– A Newfoundland is a cuddly dog.
– Deadly weapons are not allowed in public places.
– Her sparkly necklace caught everyone’s attention.
– The dress was shapely and flattering on her figure.
– She wants to escape her lowly life.

To identify if a word is an adjective or adverb, you need to consider the context in which it is used. An adverb usually modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. An adjective usually modifies a noun. For example, in the sentence “She sang beautifully,” the word “beautifully” is an adverb because it modifies the verb “sang”. In contrast, in the sentence “She has a beautiful voice,” the word “beautiful” is an adjective because it modifies the noun “voice”.

Use adjectives with “-ly” termination to describe a person’s character or behaviour, such as “lovely,” “saintly”, or ” friendly”. If you want to use an adjective with the “-ly” suffix or termination, you can use this formula: in + a + [adjective] + way or manner. For example: (1) She dressed in a lovely way. (2) He talked to me in a friendly manner. 

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