Notes on Adverbs
is a word that modifies (changes) verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Adverbs answer the following questions about the verb, adjective, or adverb: Where? When? How? How Much?
- Etymology: ad (toward) + verb
Literally means “that which is added to a verb.”
1. Many adverbs end with the suffix –ly
Note: there are exceptions. There are words (e.g., bully, friendly) that end with –ly that are not adverbs. If you are confused, take the –ly off the word and make sure it is an adjective. For instance, if I take –ly off bully, I get bull. That is not an adjective, and therefore, bully is not an adverb. In short, adverbs that end with –ly are adjectives that have evolved into an adverb by having –ly added to the end.
2. If you have a word and you want to test to see if it is an adverb, ask the question:
If the answer to this question is a word that is a verb, adjective, or another adverb, then the word you are examining is an adverb.
He chases storms to catch them vividly and dramatically on camera.
First, vividly ends with –ly, and vivid is an adjective. So I can guess this is an adverb. Let’s make sure: Vividly what? The answer to this is vividly catch. Catch is a verb. Words that modify verbs are adverbs.
3. Adverbs can often change location in the sentence.
There are people who are drawn irresistibly to storms.
I can rewrite this sentence as follows: There are people who are irresistibly drawn to storms.
4. An adverb is a modifier. Only modifiers can take the word Very in front of it.
Note: there are exceptions, and just because a word takes the word very doesn’t mean it is an adverb. It can also be an adjective. In short, if the word sounds right with the word very in front of it, it is either an adverb or an adjective.
Examples of Identifying Adverbs
We shall leave soon.
I can say very soon. So I know that soon is an adjective or an adverb because I can put the word very in front of it. I ask my question: soon what? Soon leave. Leave is a verb. Words that modify verbs are adverbs. I can move the word to a different part of the sentence: Soon we shall leave. We shall soon leave. Soon is absolutely an adverb.
He worked rapidly.
First, the word ends with –ly, so I am going to assume it is an adverb. I can change it around the sentence: Rapidly he worked. Rapidly what? Rapidly is telling me something about worked, which is a verb. Words that modify verbs are adverbs.
Where do you live?
Where what? Where do live. Where is modifying the verb phrase do live. I can change the location of the word: You live where?
I bought a bright red car.
We can put very in front of bright: very bright. This makes bright either an adjective or adverb in this sentence. We need to figure out what bright is modifying. Bright seems to be telling us something about the type of red. Red is an adjective. Words that modify adjectives are adverbs. Bright is an adverb in this sentence.