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Adverb : General English
An adverb is a word or phrase which is used to modify the meaning of a verb, an adjective or another adverb. Adverbs are used in a sentence to give us more information about the sentence. They usually express the manner in which something is done. Most of the adverbs end with the common ending –ly. An adverb used to modify an adjective or another adverb usually goes before it.
For example :
- The rain poured heavily and we took shelter under a tree. (Here the adverb ‘quickly’ is modifying the verb ‘poured’.)
- You should go there as quickly as possible. (Here the adverb ‘quickly’ is modifying the verb ‘go’.)
- I had a really great time at the dance party. (Here the adverb ‘really’ is modifying the adjective ‘great’.)
Adverbs are used to carry out many functions in a sentence, such as :
- How: He walks gracefully.
- When: He came here yesterday.
- Where: Will you come here
- To what extent: This dish is extremely good.
Adverbs can also be used to change the meaning of the whole sentence. Mostly when adverbs are used at the beginning of a sentence, they tend to change the meaning of the whole sentence, for example :
- Unfortunately, no one was present there. (It was unfortunate that no one was present there.)
- Probably I am mistaken. ( It is probable that I am mistaken.)
Types of Adverbs
There are following types of adverb depending on time, place, frequency, and manner :
1. Adverbs of time
Adverbs of time are used in a sentence to answer the question ‘WHEN’.
Some Examples of Adverb of time are today, yesterday, now, before, daily, already, since, ago, never, etc. For example :
- I met him yesterday.
- His father died two years ago.
- I have seen him before.
- They have already come.
- We will have to start now.
2. Adverbs of frequency :
Adverbs of frequency are used in a sentence to answer the question ‘how often’.
Some examples of this kind of adverb are: often, always, once, never, again, seldom, frequently etc.
- We seldom go out on Sundays.
- I have seen him only once.
- He called again this morning.
- We must always try to do our best.
3. Adverbs of place :
In a sentence, Adverbs of place are used to answer the question ‘Where’.
Some Examples of Adverbs of place are: here, there, up, down, everywhere, out, etc.
- She sat down.
- He looked up.
- I searched for him everywhere.
- Come in.
4. Adverbs of manner :
Adverbs of manner answer the question ‘how’ or ‘in what manner’. These kinds of adverbs include nearly all those adverbs which end in -ly.
Some Examples of ‘adverbs of manner’ are: quickly, carefully, sweetly, clearly, bravely, beautifully, well, fast, etc.
- The soldiers fought bravely.
- This essay is well written.
- she walked slowly.
- The baby slept soundly.
5.Adverbs of Condition :
An adverb of condition tells us the condition needed before the main idea comes into effect. (An adverb of the condition often starts with if or unless. For example:
- If it rains, the party will be ruined.
- I will not talk unless you apologize.
6. Adverbs of Certainty :
We use adverbs of certainty to say how sure we are of something. Adverbs of certainty usually go in mid-position.
Examples are: certainly, definitely, clearly, obviously, and probably.
- She will probably come.
- The train has obviously been delayed
- She is certainly right.
- There is clearly something wrong.
- He probably thinks that he is the smartest. (NOT He thinks probably that …)
Rules of Adverb
Rule 1: Adverbs should be placed before or after the word they are modifying. For example :
- I somewhat understand what you are saying (Here the adverb ‘Somewhat’ modifies the verb ‘understand’)
In most of the sentences, adverb comes after the verb/adjective/adverb. For example :
- Incorrect: He clearly speaks.
- Correct: He speaks clearly.
Rule 2: When there is an object, the adverb is usually placed after the verb + object.For example :
- Incorrect: I put carefully the vase on the table.
- Correct: I put the vase carefully on the table.
Rule 3: However, adverbs are never positioned between the verb and the object.For example :
- Incorrect: I read quickly the book.
- Correct: I read the book quickly.
Rule 4: Sometimes adverbs are placed at the beginning of a clause.For example :
- Quickly, I changed my opinion.
Rule 5: The adverb only should come immediately before the word it modifies.For example :
- Incorrect: I only solved two problems.
- Correct: I solved only two problems.
- Incorrect: John only managed to solve the problem.
- Correct: Only John managed to solve the problem.
- Incorrect: Praise them when only they deserve it.
- Correct: Praise them only when they deserve it.
Rule 6: Else should be followed by but, not than.For example :
- Incorrect: He did nothing else than devote time to studying.
- Correct: He did nothing else but devote time to studying.
Rule 7: Adverbs never, seldom, nowhere, nothing, hardly, scarcely, barely, rarely, neither are negative in meaning, So be careful not to use ”Double negative” in a sentence. For example :
- Incorrect: I hardly know anything about this book. (Hardly and nothing both are negative words, so here it is an error of Double negative.)
- Correct: I hardly know anything about this book. (To correct it, use ”Anything” in place of ‘nothing’ )
Rule 8: The adverb ‘As’ is used afterward ‘Regard, define, describe, treat, view, know’. The adverb ‘As’ is not used afterward ‘Elect, consider, call, appoint, choose, name’. For example :
- Incorrect: It is considered as the worst problem of this area
- Correct: It is considered the worst problem of this area.
- Incorrect: I regard him my family member
- Correct: I regard him as my family member
Common Errors of Adverbs :
Sometimes students use adjectives when they should use an adverb, For example:
- Incorrect: He behaved very bad on the field trip. (To modify or describe the verb ‘behaved’, an adverb should be used here. Use of adjective ‘Bad’ is incorrect here.)
- Correct: He behaved very badly on the field trip.
Good and Well :
Good and well are also confusing words. Most students think that these are same in usage, but this is not true. Good is an adjective which is used to modify Nouns or pronouns (the good boy). On the other hand, ‘Well’ is an adverb which is used to modify a verb (he listens well) or an adjective(the well-educated boy).
Hard and Hardly :
Hard and hardly look like similar words but both have entirely different meanings. Hard is an adjective which means ‘with a great deal of effort’. Hardly is an adverb which means ‘very little’ or scarcely.
- I work hard.’
- I hardly work.’
Observe that these two sentences are entirely different in meaning.
Too and very :
Too has a different meaning from very. Too is used in the negative sense in a sentence. It means ‘more than enough’ or ‘more than is wanted’. Very is used in the positive sense in a sentence. Very is used for giving emphasis to something in a sentence.
Incorrect: This student is too intelligent.
Correct: This student is very intelligent very intelligent.
An adverb usually comes before the adjective or adverb it is modifying. But adverb Enough is an exception to this rule. Enough goes after the adjective or adverb it is modifying.
The adverb enough is used to modify an adjective. In this case, it goes after the adjective it modifies. For example :
- Incorrect: She is enough old to earn a living
- Correct: She is old enough to earn a living. (Here the adverb enough modifies the adjective old.)
- Incorrect: Is it enough warm for you?
- Correct: Is it warm enough for you?
- Incorrect: I am enough good to forgive your mistakes.
- Correct: I am good enough to forgive your mistakes.
When enough is used as an adjective, it modifies a noun. The adjective enough comes before the noun it is modifying.
- Incorrect: I have bought eggs enough.
- Correct: I have bought enough eggs. (Here the adjective enough modifies the noun eggs.)
- Incorrect: I didn’t get time enough to write the test.
- Correct: I didn’t get enough time to write the test.
Some words are used as both ‘Adjective’ and ‘ Adverb’. Which are :
‘He’s a fast runner.’ – Here fast is an adjective.
‘He runs fast.’ – Here fast is an adverb.
‘It was late at night.’ – Here late is an adjective.
‘We talked late into the night.’ – Here late is an adverb.
Now as you know the rules, try to answer the following questions in the comment section. We will review your comments.
- Come to my office as ………………………. (quick / quickly) as possible.
- The situation is ………………………………….(Very/much/very much) serious.
- We have not gathered ………………………… (near / nearly) enough flowers.
- Our team played …………………………. (good/well) last week.
- Can you be there at 5 o’clock ………………….? (Sharp/sharply)
- The ball hit me ………………………… (Right/rightly) on the nose.