Adverbs Definition and Examples

What are Adverbs?

Adverbs are words with the principal function of describing verbs or verb phrases. They can also be a group of words that modify adjectives and other adverbs. These are called adverbial phrases and adverbial clauses. In addition, adverbs provide details to clauses, prepositions, sentences, or determiners, answering questions such as how, where, where, to what extent, in what way, and several others. These adverbial functions deliver information about the certainty, frequency, manner, place, time, or other circumstances indicated by the parts of speech that they describe. Here are some examples:

  • Yuri seldom makes mistakes. (seldom describes makes, showing frequency)
  • She definitely called the police. (definitely describes called, showing certainty)
  • Marcus is singing quietly. (quietly describes singing, showing manner)
  • They’ll arrive tomorrow. (tomorrow describes arrive, showing time)
  • He’ll work there. (there describes work, showing where)
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Adverbs Rules

Adverbs are used to describe or modify verbs. They make actions much more detailed or interesting.Take a look at the following examples:

– Hadrian jumped.
– Hadrian jumped enthusiastically.

In the first sentence, you can imagine or picture Hadrian jumping, but there isn’t any other information to visualize the scene. But in the second sentence, you can picture Hadrian smiling, excited, and jumping happily, perhaps for some reason that gave him great joy.
An adverb can also describe or modify an adjective. It can increase or lessen the intensity of the meaning that the adjective expresses.Take a look at these examples:

– Flo is extremely funny.
– We’re slightly stressed about the situation.
Like adjectives, adverbs can be used to show comparisons.Let’s look at the following examples:

– He entered the cave cautiously.
– She greeted them warmly.

To make the comparative form of an adverb that ends in -ly, add the word more:

– He entered the cave more cautiously than the guide.
– She greeted them more warmly than her companion.

To make the superlative form of an adverb that ends in -ly, add the word most:

– He entered the cave most cautiously than them all.
– She greeted them most warmly than everyone on the team.
Tables of Rules for Adverbs
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Adverbs Spelling Rules

Below are the general spelling rules of adverbs, especially those that end in “-ly“. Bear in mind that as with the other components of English grammar, there are many exceptions to the rule. Adverbs such as never, everywhere, here, downstairs, today, and so on, don’t fit the rules in this list.

Most adverb forms require adding the letters “–ly” at the end of adjectives.  perfect – perfectly
absolute – absolutely
For adjectives that end in “–y,” change it to “i” and add “–ly”.angry –angrily
easy – easily
For adjectives that end in “–able,” “–ible,” and “–le,” change the “–e” to “–y.”incredible –incredibly
probable – probably
For adjectives that end in “–ic,” add “–ally.”economic –economically
tragic –tragically
Some adverbs look the same as their adjective forms.They came by early yesterday.
She sure could run fast.
Table of Adverb Rules for Spelling

Examples of Adverbs

Below are more sample sentences of adverbs in use.

1. The teacher is incredibly patient with her class.

2. Tanya’s group advanced more rapidly than Jacob’s.

3. Could you tell her to call tomorrow at 9?

4. That restaurant is known for grilling their barbecue meticulously.

5. They delivered the food so quickly, which surprised us.

6. I like Joe’s team because they treat us well.

7. We’ll definitely give them discounts on bulk orders.

8. Where did you practice the routine yesterday?

9. Petya has never given a sincere compliment in her life.

10. We lifted weights upstairs for about two hours. 

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Adverbs Exercises with Answers

Practice is important to check your understanding and review what you’ve learned. The following exercises will aid you in identifying adverbs and learning how they work. Complete each sentence by choosing the right word.

Exercise A.

1. Linda studied English for years. Now, she speaks _______________.

A. Hurriedly

B. Never

C. Here

D. Perfectly

2. Thomas always smiles _______________.

A. Happily

B. Unluckily

C. Never

D. Tomorrow

3. Break will be over soon. It’s time to go back to the office ____________.

A. Tomorrow

B. Now

C. Breathlessly

D. Calmly

4. The whole city is full of Christmas lights. You can see them shining ______________.

A. Everywhere

B. Actually

C. Unexpectedly

D. Inside

5. Raya stopped ______________ to avoid running into Jill.

A. Now

B. Correctly

C. Suddenly

D. Often


1. D: Linda studied English for years. Now, she speaks perfectly.
2. A: Thomas always smiles happily.
3. B: Break will be over soon. It’s time to go back to the office now.
4. A: The whole city is full of Christmas lights. You can see them shining everywhere.
5. C: Raya stopped suddenly to avoid running into Jill.

Exercise B.

Identify the adjective in the first sentence and fill in the blanks with their adverb forms to complete the sentences.

1. Martha is slow. She types ______________.

2. Ryan’s Spanish is flawless. He speaks ______________.

3. Jerry is a beautiful piano player. He plays ______________.

4. My brother is a good painter. He paints ______________.

5. She’s a lazy writer. She works ______________.


1. Slowly
2. Faultlessly
3. Beautifully
4. Well
5. Lazily

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Adverbs List

The following is a list of adverbs according to the questions they answer.

List Of Adverbs
How?How Much?How Often?When?Where?
Hardly ever
Last week
Table of Adverbs

The following is a list of adverbs according to function.

Adverbial Function
Table of Adverbial Functions

The following is a list of adverbs of affirmation and negation

List of Affirmative and Negative Adverbs
Adverbs of AffirmationAdverbs of Negation
Not at all
Table of Affirmative and Negative Adverbs
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Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

Adverbs are modifiers, which means they add more detail and information to sentences, making them more robust in meaning. Modifiers are used to paint a clearer picture of the meaning, value, or implications that sentences are trying to convey. Both adjectives and adverbs are used to accomplish this. This makes adverbs important in refining the meanings of verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. To master adverbs, ESL and English language learners must develop an understanding of an adverb’s function and apply it in their language usage or manner of communication. This starts with recognizing adverbial functions in sentences, memorizing the spelling rules, and knowing the correct way of placing adverbs in sentences.

Common Mistakes Made by English Learners

There are several errors that English language learners have in common when it comes to adverbs. The most common is confusing adverbs with adjectives. In some cases, the adjective and adverb forms look the same, making it even more difficult to distinguish between the two. Another error is the placement of adverbs. Many English language learners struggle with the correct position of adverbs in sentences, affecting the meaning of what they’re trying to express. The best way to avoid these errors is to become familiar with how adverbs are used by learning, applying, and reviewing their forms and functions.

Common ErrorsExplanationExample
EnoughThe placement of the word “enough” is a problem for ESL students, partly because they’re translating directly from or following the placement of their mother tongue. The adverb “enough” comes after the word it modifies.Here are examples of incorrect and correct placements:

– The room is enough big for four people. -> The room is big enough for four people.

– Is he enough strong to carry the luggage? -> Is he strong enough to carry the luggage?
Good And Well“Good” is an adjective, and well is its adverb counterpart. Many students mix these two words up. One of the reasons is that “well” can be used as an adjective when talking about health and well-being. The rule of thumb is to identify the word that is being modified. If it’s a noun, then you should use “good.”Look at the sentences below:

– My uncle is a good dancer.
– My uncle dances well.

In the first sentence, the word “good” describes “dancer.” Dancer is a noun and needs an adjective to modify it, hence the use of “good.” In the second sentence, the word “well” describes “dances.” Dances is a verb and needs an adverb to modify it, which is why “well” is used.
So and TooMany English learners think that these two words are interchangeable. They might have similar meanings in that they’re both used to emphasize adjectives, but there’s an important distinction between them. “So” is similar to the word “very” but indicates a stronger meaning, so it’s used before adjectives for emphasis. “Too,” on the other hand, is used to express that something is more than adequate or over the limit, so it’s used to indicate something in a negative way.Compare the following sentences:

– She is so tall.
– She is too tall.

The first sentence expresses that she is taller than normal or that her height is impressive. The second sentence has a similar meaning but also implies that her height exceeds a certain standard that can’t accommodate it. Let’s look at the same sentences, this time with implied meanings.

– She is so tall. (I’ve never seen anyone as tall as her.)
– She is too tall. (She can’t fit through the door.)

Additionally, because English language learners confuse so and too, they often come up with nonsensical statements such as:

– He’s too handsome.
– Layla is too happy.
– The cake is too delicious!

The best way to avoid confusion is to remember that if the sentence has a positive or neutral meaning, use “so.” And if it has a negative meaning, use “too.”
Table of Adverbs Common Errors
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Learning Strategies and Best Practices for Adverbs

There are many ways to learn adverbs more effectively. The best method to achieve and develop mastery is to distinguish the different parts of speech and their functions in sentences. To be more specific, English language learners should concentrate on the following areas:

  • Identifying the distinction between an adjective and an adverb.
  • The proper placement of adverbs in sentences.
  • How adverbs relate to various linking verbs.

Here are some pointers to strengthen your understanding of adverbs.

Learning Strategies and Best PracticesExplanationExample
Adjectives and Adverbs with the Same FormsTypically, an adverb ends in the letters -ly, However, some appear exactly the same as their adjective counterparts. The best way to tell them apart is to identify what part of speech the word is modifying.Let’s look at the examples below:

– My monthly paycheck has arrived.
– The bills are paid monthly.

In the first sentence, the word “monthly” describes the word paycheck. The word paycheck is a noun, therefore “monthly” is an adjective. In the second sentence, “monthly” modifies the word paid. The word paid is a verb, therefore “monthly” is an adverb. Let’s look at another example:

– The upstairs bedroom has not been cleaned yet.
– I’ll be sleeping upstairs, in case anyone needs me.

In the first sentence, the word “upstairs” describes the word bedroom. The word bedroom is a noun, therefore “upstairs” is an adjective. In the second sentence, “upstairs” modifies the word sleeping. The word sleeping is a verb, therefore “upstairs” is an adverb.
Adverb PlacementPlacing an adverb in the wrong position can either create an awkward sentence or alter its meaning completely. It’s important to remember to put the adverbs as near as possible to the words they’re describing. If the word an adverb modifies is a verb, the adverb must be in the middle of a sentence.For example:

– Jason ran quickly across the football field.

If the adverb is describing a verb phrase, it’s usually found in the middle of the phrase. For example:

– Lydia has always played the piano.
– She will gladly play for you.
– They are currently resolving the issue.
Only“Only” is one of the most misplaced adverbs, so take extra care when using it in sentences.Let’s compare the following sentences:

– Richard only grilled the meat.
– Richard grilled the meat only.

In the first sentence, Richard didn’t do anything with the meat except to grill it. He did not prepare, marinate, or season the meat. Meanwhile, the second sentence explains that he grilled the meat and nothing else. He didn’t grill the vegetables or any other stuff that may have needed grilling.
Linking VerbsVerbs like feel, smell, sound, seem and appear look like they need adverbs, but they’re not just ordinary verbs. They function as linking verbs, which are verbs that describe subjects (nouns) rather than show actions.Take a look at the following examples:

– Kyle feels badly about the reservation mixup.
– Kyle feels bad about the reservation mixup.

An adverb would give details on how the action of feeling is performed. Meanwhile, an adjective would describe what that feeling is. “Feels badly” means that Kyle has a difficult time processing his emotions. But since the sentence is more likely describing that Kyle has a negative emotion about the situation, then the second sentence is the correct way of expressing it.
Self-directed PracticeTwo highly effective ways to develop proficiency with adverbs are self-study and consistent non-academic interactions.Language Lists

– Lists are great resources to study language forms and their corresponding functions in sample sentences, making any grammatical concept easier to remember and apply.

Language Exposure

– Reading, audio, and video materials are useful resources to aid in widening vocabulary. It also exposes you to native speakers and how they use English in various contexts. You can also learn the difference between academic and casual language.

Language Exchange

– Talking to fellow ESL students and English-speaking friends is extremely useful to develop fluency and speak more naturally. Use what you’ve learned in daily conversations any chance you get. Group practice can also be organized.
Table of Learning Strategies for Adverbs
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Adverbs Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the five common types of adverbs with examples:

1. Adverbs of Frequency – often, never, normally, sometimes, rarely, seldom
2. Adverbs of Manner – roughly, quickly, smoothly, fast, happily, sadly
3. Adverbs of Place – here, there, outside, downstairs, uphill, beside
4. Adverbs of Degree – too, enough, very, quite, somewhat, immensely
5. Adverbs of Time – soon, tomorrow, today, tonight, yesterday, immediately

Adverbs of intensity are classified as adverbs of degree as well.

Here are some examples:
Absolutely, awfully, completely, barely, intensely, hardly, little, most, considerably, scarcely.
Review the article and read through the FAQs for several examples of adverbs of intensity in sentences.

Adverbs can describe or modify adjectives. Here are some sentence examples to illustrate this adverbial function. The adjectives are italicized, while the adverbs are in bold. Notice that with adjectives, adverbs are placed before them. 

1. My English teacher is very patient in explaining the types of adverbs.
2. She is absolutely confident about her use of descriptive language. 
3. Martina is quite proud of her proficiency in numerous languages.
4. Jin’s transition between ideas is highly commendable.
5. He’s totally annoyed with all the grammatical rules he has to memorize.

Adverbs of frequency answer the question “how often.” Some examples of this are words such as rarely, seldom, often, always, etc. Adverbs of degree, on the other hand, express how intense or strong something is. Some examples of this are words such as extremely, very, enough, somewhat, etc. 

Adverbs of frequency

1. They often watch films.
2. My parents rarely argue in front of us.

Adverbs of degree

1. I noticed that the town’s architecture is quite picturesque.
2. He’s extremely saddened by your leaving. 

The adverbial classifications of Affirmation or Negation are to distinguish between adverbs that express truthful or positive meanings and adverbs that describe things negatively. Some examples of affirmation are – surely, definitely, certainly, exactly, obviously, etc. Some examples of negation are – never, invalidly, nowhere, almost, scarcely, etc. 

Example Sentences with Adverbs of Affirmation:

1. Jeffrey will definitely visit you.
2. He obviously wanted to stay longer.
3. They’re certainly happy about the festivities.

Example Sentences with Adverbs of Negation:

1. Rory never wanted to offend anyone.
2. The gemstone was nowhere to be found.
3. She operated the business illegally for two years.

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