Position of Adverbs
Placement or Position of Adverbs In Sentences Following the English Grammar
The English language, like any other language, can be a perplexing topic to study for language learners. It comprises different word classifications (noun, verb, adverb, etc.), structures, and rules. The rules that govern the word order in a sentence are called syntax. Sentence formation following the proper syntax is important for a coherent message.
In this blog, we will learn one chunk of English syntax — the position of adverbs in sentences. Adverbs are words that modify or describe a verb, an adjective, another adverb, a phrase, or a clause. They can be used to answer how, when, where, and why. Adverbs usually end with -ly but not all words ending with -ly are adverbs.
In English grammar, there are three positions for adverbs in sentences: initial or the beginning, middle, and end. Let’s learn the rules of adverb placement in the sentences below:
Three Positions Of Adverbs
1. Initial Adverbs
Adverbs are placed at the beginning of a sentence to emphasize the adverb or when the sentence’s focus is the adverb. Placing an adverb at the beginning of a sentence is commonly done for literary style or purposes.
Examples of Initial Adverbs:
- Quickly, the mother ran to grab her child before he crossed the busy road. (adverb of manner)
- Sometimes, she prefers to travel alone. (adverb of frequency)
- Last year, our family moved to the suburb to be with my grandmother. (adverb of time)
Conjunctive adverbs (also called connective or linking adverbs) take the initial position after a preceding clause or sentence. A comma is placed beside a conjunctive adverb to indicate that it connects two independent clauses.
Examples of Conjunctive Adverbs in Sentences:
- Mae doesn’t enjoy playing board games. However, she indulges whenever her sister asks her.
- The bank’s security system is outdated. Consequently, it is vulnerable to cyber-attacks and other forms of malicious activity.
- She’s grateful for starting her business early. Indeed, there’s no better time than now.
2. Middle Adverbs
First, adverbs must be in between the subject and the main verb. Another rule to remember: when a be verb functions as the main verb, the adverb must follow after it. Moreover, an adverb should also appear after an auxiliary verb or between two auxiliary verbs in a sentence.
Examples of Middle Adverbs with Main Verbs:
- He doubtlessly attended the concert when you paid for the tickets. (adverb of affirmation)
- The teacher never plays favorites among her students and gives grades objectively. (adverb of negation and frequency)
- My mother already scolded my brother for stealing someone’s toy. (adverb of time)
Examples of Middle Adverbs with Be Verbs:
- Her friends are always by her side through thick and thin. (adverb of frequency)
- I am slowly accepting the fact that I failed the exam. (adverb of manner)
- He is incredibly thankful for all the help people extend to his family. (adverb of degree)
Examples of Middle Adverbs with Auxiliary Verbs:
- You must carefully clean these pieces of antique China teacups I gave you. (adverb of manner)
- They had frequently been fighting before the incident happened. (adverb of frequency)
- We should not have violated the rules of the game. (adverb of negation)
3. Ending Adverbs
Adverbs are placed at the end of a sentence to show imperative mood. As such, it expresses a command or request.
Examples of Ending Adverbs in Imperative Mood:
- Pay your bill now. (adverb of time)
- Please focus and stop looking around. (adverb of place)
- Segregate your waste properly. (adverb of manner)
In contrast with initial adverbs, the ending adverbs convey neutral or no emphasis in particular. Generally, adverbs are placed at the end of the sentence. However, the initial and middle positions accentuate an adverb.
Examples of Ending Adverbs:
- Lisa washed her uniform neatly. (adverb of manner)
- The black car went northward. (adverb of place)
- She will visit the clinic tomorrow. (adverb of time)
- After missing to correct an error in the data, he now reviews the reports more cautiously. (adverb of degree)
- The committee graded her output positively. (adverb of affirmation)
Grammar Chart of Adverb Positions
As observed in the examples above, adverbs do not have a definite or fixed position in sentence construction. They can be placed at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence. Review the adverb positions grammar chart below for the summary of the rules:
|Initial or Beginning||Place adverbs at the beginning of the sentence if it is the emphasis of the statement.||Next Saturday I will be vacationing in Paris. Below the table, the dog eats the scraps. Amazingly the crowd watched the fireworks display.|
|Initial or Beginning||Conjunctive adverbs are placed at the beginning of a sentence after an independent clause.||He needed a healthy distraction. Therefore, he enrolled in a pottery class. She needs to be at the airport early. Otherwise, she will miss her flight. The student’s pen ran out of ink while taking an exam. Incidentally, he found a pen under his desk.|
|Middle||Adverbs must be in between the subject and the main verb.||He just left the house. You can still catch him. She politely declined their request. The crowd rarely cleans their mess after a game.|
|Middle||When a be verb functions as the main verb, an adverb must be placed beside it.||I was nervously avoiding the stranger whose following me. He is usually riding the bus to work every Wednesday. They are immensely celebrating their friend’s success in obtaining a full scholarship.|
|Middle||Adverbs are placed after an auxiliary verb. When there are two auxiliary verbs, an adverb is placed in between them.||She would never have left if she knew you were sick. You may quietly sit in the office while waiting for the manager. He would sooner have graduated from college if he had taken advanced credits back in high school.|
|End||Place the adverb at the end of the sentence when it is in the imperative mood or expresses commands or requests.||Don’t go there. Submit your report monthly. Kindly fill out the form correctly.|
|End||Generally, adverbs are placed at the end of the sentence, conveying that there is a neutral or no emphasis.||She practiced playing the piano tirelessly. He talked to the visitor outside. My friends and I go on vacation annually.|
Position of Different Adverb Types
There are nine different types of adverbs:
- Adverb of Manner
- Adverb of Place
- Adverb of Time
- Adverb of Degree
- Adverb of Cause and Effect
- Adverb of Affirmation
- Adverb of Negation
- Adverb of Frequency
- Adverb of Condition.
It can be tricky where to place these adverbs in a sentence since it has no definite position. For instance, the adverb of manner could take the initial, middle, and end spot as in:
(a) Gracefully, the lady ate her meal with the royal family.
(b) The lady gracefully ate her meal with the royal family.
(c) The lady ate her meal with the royal family gracefully.
Aside from grammar rules (i.e., placing the adverb between the subject and the verb like in example b), remember that emphasis plays a relevant role in adverb placement in a sentence. The first sentence focuses on how the lady ate her meal. In contrast, the last sentence has a neutral emphasis as it only retells the happening.
Use the grammar chart below for the placements of different types of adverbs as a guide:
|Type of Adverb||Initial or Beginning||Middle||End|
|Adverb of Manner → can be placed anywhere in the beginning, middle, or end.||Strongly, he pushed the loaded cart up the ramp. Rashly, she decided to drop out of college. Cheerfully, the children played outside.||He strongly pushed the loaded cart up the ramp. She rashly decided to drop out of college. The children cheerfully played outside.||He pushed the loaded cart up the ramp strongly. She decided to drop out of college rashly. The children played outside cheerfully. *Imperative mood: Move fast! Stay there. Come here!|
|Adverb of Place → usually found at the end of the sentence. However, it can be placed at the beginning for writing style. It can also be placed in the middle when it’s a single-word adverb.||Nearby the mall, an accident happened.|
Overseas, she moved to pursue her dreams.
Everywhere he goes, his pet dog follows him.
She moved overseas to pursue her dreams.
|An accident happened nearby the mall.|
She moved to pursue her dreams overseas.
His pet dog follows him everywhere he goes.
|Adverb of Time → usually placed at the end of the sentence. For emphasis, it can be positioned at the start and middle part of the sentence.||Last week, our family attended a festival.|
Today, he cooked beef stew for dinner.
Now, we need to go back home.
We now need to go back home.
|Our family attended a festival last week.|
He cooked beef stew for dinner today.
We need to go back home now.
|Adverb of Degree → usually found at the middle of the sentence.||—||The visitors really liked the ambiance of the hotel.|
She is incredibly lucky for winning the lottery.
They were absolutely impressed with the building’s architecture.
|* The adverbs a lot and a bit are usually placed at the end of the sentence:|
We consume dairy products a lot.
I doubted you a bit.
Cats sleep a lot.
|Adverb of Cause and Effect → it can be placed either at the beginning or middle of the sentence.||Since the pandemic happened, I barely go outside.|
Because of the hot weather, they went to the beach.
In case it rains, remember to bring an umbrella.
|I barely go outside since the pandemic happened.|
They went to the beach because of the hot weather.
Remember to bring an umbrella in case it rains.
|Adverb of Affirmation → generally placed in the middle of the sentence.||—||He certainly will graduate with honors.|
I will definitely attend your party.
She will surely have watched the movie by now.
|Adverb of Negation → generally placed in the middle of the sentence.||—||I can not understand you.|
The sound system he bought is scarcely used.
He never spends about his budget.
|Adverb of Frequency → can take any position except for adverbs always, ever, and never which are usually in the middle of the sentence.||—|
Sometimes, he takes long walks early in the morning.
Usually, I drink my vitamins after breakfast.
|I don’t think I ever apologized to you properly. He sometimes takes long walks early in the morning.|
I usually drink my vitamins after breakfast.
He takes long walks early in the morning sometimes.
I drink my vitamins after breakfast usually.
|Adverb of Condition → appears in clauses that can be placed at the beginning or end of the sentence.||If the weather is good, we will have a picnic at the park.|
Unless you pay your debt, you can’t borrow money from me again.
Provided we save money for a year, we can push through with our plan to buy a house.
|—||We will have a picnic at the park if the weather is good.|
You can’t borrow money from me again unless you pay your debt.
We can push through with our plan to buy a house provided we save money for a year.
Order of Adverbs
There will be times when you will have to use more than one adverb in a sentence. To convey your message correctly, follow the rules below:
A series of adverbs of time is commonly used when writing an announcement. Therefore, it must be done correctly to avoid miscommunication. The arrangement of time is as follows: (1) how long (2) how often and (3) when the event will happen.
- A (1) weeklong seminar for the accountants will be held in the conference room (3) starting Monday from 1:00 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- All teachers are advised to attend the (1) two-hour (2) quarterly meeting (3) on Friday.
- A (2) annual symposium on gender equality will be conducted online on (3) March 1, 2023, at nine in the morning.
Arrangement of Adverbs in Series
The four most common adverbs are the adverb of frequency, adverbs of place, adverbs of manner, and adverbs of time. In sentence construction, it can happen that you will use all those adverbs in a sentence. Follow the table below for the correct arrangement of adverbs in series in formal writing:
|Elise||often||eats||her meals||at home||by hand.|
|He||usually||studies||in the library||alone||every Saturday.|
|Her friends||celebrated||her birthday||at a restaurant||yesterday.|
|Tyler||sometimes||drinks||tea||at Starbucks||pensively||in the morning.|
Position of Adverbs Exercises with Answers
Determine if the adverb in the respective sentences below is placed correctly. If it is not, re-write the sentence to correct the mistake.
1. There was laughing much in the pantry during break time.
2. Please take inside the table.
3. The doctor told her clients to promptly attend their appointment.
4. Our team always wins the championship.
5. Damon in the past wrote to me frequently.
6. She sends us at the beginning of each month money.
7. They arrived at 5 p.m., by car, yesterday.
8. The players faithfully practiced for a month.
9. We by plane traveled last year, to Germany.
10. My daughter answered easily, last night her homework.
1. There was much laughing in the pantry during break time.
2. Please take the table inside.
3. The doctor told her clients to attend their appointment promptly.
4. The sentence is written correctly.
5. Damon frequently wrote to me in the past.
6. She sends us money at the beginning of each month.
7. They arrived by car yesterday at 5:00 p.m.
8. The players practiced faithfully for a month.
9. We traveled by plane to Germany last year.
10. My daughter answered her homework easily last night.
Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners
Learning English is challenging due to the various components and rules of the language. Using adverbs can be confusing as it has no definite position in a sentence. It is acceptable to place certain adverbs at the beginning of the sentence for stylistic purposes. Similarly, it is correct to place some adverbs in the middle or end positions. One characteristic of language is that it adjusts according to our needs to convey our message. However, it is crucial to avoid the common mistakes below and follow English grammar. Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand adverbial clause and adverbs of frequency.
|Common Mistakes Made by English Learners||Strategies and Best Practices for Correction|
|1. Placing Adverbs Between the Verb and the Object The basic English grammar sentence structure follows the subject-verb-object (SVO) format. Adverbs can be placed in between the subject and the verb. However, the verb and the object should always stay side by side.||The key to correcting this common mistake is to know how to identify the subject, verb, and object in writing a sentence. Afterward, memorize the acronym “SVO” and remember that something can come between subject and verb, but nothing between verb and object. For example: ✘ He visits often his grandmother. ✔ He often visits his grandmother. ✘ She cleaned angrily the house. ✔ She angrily cleaned the house.|
|2. Placing a pronoun after “Here” and “There” “Here” and “there” are adverbs of place that can be positioned at the start of a sentence. Some learners jumble the word arrangement. For instance, instead of saying “Here comes your order,” they say “Here your order comes.“||Observe the examples below: ✘ Here/There is it. ✔ Here/There it is. Notice in this first set that an auxiliary verb (is) functions as the main verb of the sentence. As such, it must always be at the end instead of getting in between the adverb (here/there) and the subject (it). Meanwhile, in this second set, the main verb is a dynamic verb (jump). When this is the case, it must immediately follow the adverb (here/there)/ ✘ Here/There the fox jumps. ✔ Here/There jumps the fox.|
|3. Placing Adverbs Between Infinitive Phrases One of the grammar mistakes learners should avoid is split infinitives. Infinitives are formed using the formula “to + main verb”. Putting an adverb in between is a non-standard form of writing.||The standard or preferred form when using an infinitive is placing the adverb at the end of a sentence. ✘ She decided to immediately buy a new phone. ✔ She decided to buy a new phone immediately. Remember that when you don’t know where to place an adverb in a sentence following the SVO structure, it is safer to position the adverb at the end of a sentence.|
Position of Adverbs Frequently Asked Questions
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