An adverb is a modifying part of speech. It answers the question when, where, how, how much, how long, or how often.

    • The elections are coming soon.
    • They only shopped locally.
    • They are happily married.

An adverb describes verbs, other adverbs, adjectives, and phrases.

    • Verb- The cat climbed quickly up the tree. (quickly describes how the cat climbed)
    • Adverb- Mike worked very carefully on his paper. (very shows how carefully he worked)
    • Adjective- She is nearly ready to go. (nearly tells to what extent she is ready)

Most adverbs are formed by adding -ly to an adjective. If the adjective already ends in -y, the -y usually changes to -i.

    • bold / boldly
    • solid / solidly
    • interesting / interestingly
    • heavy / heavily
    • unnecessary / unnecessarily

There are, however, many common adverbs that do not end in -ly, such as again, also, just, never, often, soon, today, too, very, and well.

There are a few different kinds of adverbs. The words when, where, why, and how are called interrogative adverbs when they begin a question.

    • When did the event occur?
    • Where is the proof?
    • Why was he so late?
    • How did they get here?

The relative adverbs—where, when, and why (how is sometimes included as well)—introduce subordinate clauses (also called dependent clauses), which are clauses that do not form simple sentences by themselves.

    • This is the house where I grew up.
    • They go to bed when they want to.
    • She wondered why the door was open.

When an adverb modifies a whole sentence or clause, it is called a sentence adverb. Words such as fortunately, frankly, hopefully, and luckily are generally used as sentence adverbs and usually express the speaker’s feelings about the content of the sentence. Such adverbs normally come at the beginning of a sentence, but may also come in the middle or at the end.

    • Unfortunately, Friday will be cloudy.
    • Friday, unfortunately, will be cloudy.
    • Friday will be cloudy, unfortunately.

Adverbs of Manner

Describe how something happens. Where there are two or more verbs in a sentence, adverb placement affects the meaning.

    • carefully
    • correctly
    • eagerly
    • easily
    • fast
    • loudly
    • patiently
    • quickly
    • quietly
    • wellShe decided to write her paper. (no adverbs)
      She quickly decided to write her paper. (her decision was quick)
      She decided to write her paper quickly. (her writing was quick)

Adverbs of Place

Describe where something happens. Most adverbs of place are also used as prepositions.

    • abroad
    • anywhere
    • downstairs
    • here
    • home
    • in
    • nowhere
    • out
    • outside
    • somewhere
    • there
    • underground
    • upstairs

I wanted to go upstairs.
She has lived in the city since June. (in the city – prepositional phrase)

Adverbs of Purpose

Describe why something happens.

    • so
    • so that
    • to
    • in order to
    • because
    • since
    • accidentally
    • intentionally
    • purposely

Jenny walks carefully to avoid falling.
Bob accidentally broke the vase.

Adverbs of Frequency

Describe how often something happens.

    • always
    • every
    • never
    • often
    • rarely
    • seldom
    • sometimes
    • usually

Mathew gets a ride from her brother every day.
The fish usually swims near the top of the tank.

Adverbs of Time

Describe when something happens.

    • after
    • already
    • during
    • finally
    • just
    • last
    • later
    • next
    • now
    • recently
    • soon
    • then
    • tomorrow
    • when
    • while
    • yesterday

He came home before dark.
It will be too dark to play outside soon.
Jessy finished her supper first.
Ancy left school early.

Adverbs of Completeness

In a complete manner.

    • everywhere
    • here
    • there

Ernest Hemingway is often held up as an example of a great writer who detested adverbs and advised other writers to avoid them. In reality, it’s impossible to avoid adverbs altogether. Sometimes we need them, and all writers (even Hemingway) use them occasionally. The trick is to avoid unnecessary adverbs. When your verb or adjective doesn’t seem powerful or precise enough, instead of reaching for an adverb to add more colour, try reaching for a stronger verb or adjective instead. Most of the time, you’ll come up with a better word and your writing will be stronger for it.

List of Common Adverbs

abnormallyhopelesslyrighteously
absentmindedlyhourlyrightfully
accidentallyhungrilyrigidly
acidlyimmediatelyroughly
actuallyinnocentlyrudely
adventurouslyinquisitivelysadly
afterwardsinstantlysafely
almostintenselyscarcely
alwaysintentlyscarily
angrilyinterestinglysearchingly
annuallyinwardlysedately
anxiouslyirritablyseemingly
arrogantlyjaggedlyseldom
awkwardlyjealouslyselfishly
badlyjoshinglyseparately
bashfullyjoyfullyseriously
beautifullyjoyouslyshakily
bitterlyjoviallysharply
bleaklyjubilantlysheepishly
blindlyjudgementallyshrilly
blissfullyjustlyshyly
boastfullykeenlysilently
boldlykiddinglysleepily
bravelykindheartedlyslowly
brieflykindlysmoothly
brightlykissinglysoftly
brisklyknavishlysolemnly
broadlyknottilysolidly
busilyknowinglysometimes
calmlyknowledgeablysoon
carefullykookilyspeedily
carelesslylazilystealthily
cautiouslylesssternly
certainlylightlystrictly
cheerfullylikelysuccessfully
clearlylimplysuddenly
cleverlylivelysurprisingly
closelyloftilysuspiciously
coaxinglylonginglysweetly
colorfullylooselyswiftly
commonlylovinglysympathetically
continuallyloudlytenderly
coollyloyallytensely
correctlymadlyterribly
courageouslymajesticallythankfully
crosslymeaningfullythoroughly
cruellymechanicallythoughtfully
curiouslymerrilytightly
dailymiserablytomorrow
daintilymockinglytoo
dearlymonthlytremendously
deceivinglymoretriumphantly
delightfullymortallytruly
deeplymostlytruthfully
defiantlymysteriouslyultimately
deliberatelynaturallyunabashedly
delightfullynearlyunaccountably
diligentlyneatlyunbearably
dimlyneedilyunethically
doubtfullynervouslyunexpectedly
dreamilyneverunfortunately
easilynicelyunimpressively
elegantlynoisilyunnaturally
energeticallynotunnecessarily
enormouslyobedientlyutterly
enthusiasticallyobnoxiouslyupbeat
equallyoddlyupliftingly
especiallyoffensivelyupright
evenofficiallyupside-down
evenlyoftenupward
eventuallyonlyupwardly
exactlyopenlyurgently
excitedlyoptimisticallyusefully
extremelyoverconfidentlyuselessly
fairlypainfullyusually
faithfullypartiallyutterly
famouslypatientlyvacantly
farperfectlyvaguely
fastphysicallyvainly
fatallyplayfullyvaliantly
ferociouslypolitelyvastly
ferventlypoorlyverbally
fiercelypositivelyvery
fondlypotentiallyviciously
foolishlypowerfullyvictoriously
fortunatelypromptlyviolently
franklyproperlyvivaciously
franticallypunctuallyvoluntarily
freelyquaintlywarmly
freneticallyquarrelsomelyweakly
frightfullyqueasilywearily
fullyqueerlywell
furiouslyquestionablywetly
generallyquestioninglywholly
generouslyquickerwildly
gentlyquicklywillfully
gladlyquietlywisely
gleefullyquirkilywoefully
gracefullyquizzicallywonderfully
gratefullyrapidlyworriedly
greatlyrarelywrongly
greedilyreadilyyawningly
happilyreallyyearly
hastilyreassuringlyyearningly
healthilyrecklesslyyesterday
heavilyregularlyyieldingly
helpfullyreluctantlyyouthfully
helplesslyrepeatedlyzealously
highlyreproachfullyzestfully
honestlyrestfullyzestily
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Devika Panikar has been teaching English Language and Literature for 14 years now. She is an Assistant Professor with the Directorate of Collegiate Education under the Government of Kerala. She teaches at the Government Colleges coming under this directorate and is now posted at the Department of English, H.H. The Maharaja’s Government College for Women, Thiruvananthapuram. This website is a collection of the lecture notes that she prepared by referring various sources, for her students’ perusal. It has been compiled here for the sake of future generations.

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