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In sentence construction there are some cases when a word describes the action (verb) in a sentence. Such a word is known as an adverb.

'Jack hurriedly run upstairs.' The word 'hurriedly' is describing how Jack did the action (Run). It is an adverb.

Adverbs describe a verb, an adjective or an adverb in a sentence. So not only do they give more information about verbs but adjectives, adverbs and even sometimes a whole sentence. Examples include 'quickly, very, easily, after, suddenly, early' and 'below'.

Adverbs answer important questions such as how? where? when? how much? and how often? Meanwhile, many adverbs are formed by adding the suffix -ly to an adjective; this is one way by which they can be easily identified. Adverbs are so commonly used in (to make sentences sound well) that they seem to steal from other parts of speech. This implies that they can take some adjectives, prepositions and even nouns to make your own.

Shall we identify the adverbs in the following sentences.

  1. She is extremely pretty. 'extremely' answers the question, how pretty she is.

  2. There were almost 100 books on my list. ('almost' answers the question, how far).

  3. Come near me. (near answering the question, where).

4. He regularly makes visits to the centre. (answering the question

how often)

5. The student arrived late for the assembly.( 'late' answering the question,


The sentences reveal most of the different roles adverbs play in sentence construction.

The table below shows the main types of adverbs and examples of them.

The first five types of adverbs are commonly used in sentence construction to make statements more meaningful and interesting.

Adverbs of evaluation and conjunction are mostly used in long written texts; where different ideas need to be connected to form cohesion.

E.g. 1. ‘Apparently, there are some malpractices going on. 'Apparently' is used as an adjective of evaluation to show how (as far as) the speaker sees the situation. It modifies the whole sentences.

2. ‘Josie is drying some clothes outside. Meanwhile, the skies are turning cloudy.’

'Meanwhile' is an adverb connecting the two statements and meaning that the two actions (drying of clothes and the turning of the skies) are happening at the same time.

As stated earlier on, many adjectives end in the prefix '-ly'. However, it is not all -ly words are adverbs.

They include: 'costly, monthly, lonely' and 'lively', which are adjectives; 'comply, multiply, reply' and 'rely' being verbs; and 'anomaly assembly, family' and 'homily'are nouns.

There are a greater number of them and we can only identify which ones are not adverbs by trying to identify the role each plays in a sentence.

Let’s try and identify the type of adverbs in the following sentences.

  1. We hope the bus will soon arrive. Soon (adverb) modifying arrive (verb)

  2. Sonia sings really beautifully. Really (adverb) modifying beautifully (adverb).

  3. I’m quite sure that Mandy needs to eat healthily. Quite modifying sure and healthily modifying eat.

  4. Hopefully, the machine will work regularly this time. Hopefully (adverb) modifying the whole sentence and regularly modifying work (verb).

  5. The man was terribly knocked down by a car although the red light was on. Terribly (adverb) modifies knocked (verb) and although modifies the two parts of the sentence.

Adverbs, like adjectives, can be used in comparing two or more nouns. There are three degrees of comparison in adverbs; as in adjectives: They are the Positive, the Comparative and the Superlative degrees.

The one-syllable adverbs use -er in the comparative form and -est in the superlative form and est in the superlative form.

Fill in the blank spaces with the correct degree of the adverbs in bracket.

  1. The pharmacy is the _______to us. (near)

  2. Carla runs_________ than Amina. (fast)

  3. The train arrives ________than the coach.(earlier)

Sentence 1 is nearest because most is not used together with words ending in -est. Sentence 2 is faster and it will be wrong to use more faster. Sentence 3 is earlier.

Adverbs ending in -ly (formed from adjectives) or have three or more syllables form the comparative with more and the superlative with most.

E.g. ‘Our dog barks the most loudly of all the dogs in the neighbourhood.’

Note that it is not correct to use -er and more together or est and most together. Some adverbs form the comparative and superlative in an irregular way. They are also similar to their adjectives.

E.g. 1. Kate performed badly in the quiz but her brother did worse than her.

'Worse' is comparing how Kate performed to how her brother


2. George plays football better than Hassan.

Better is comparing how the two boys play football.