When adverbs are properly used they can make your writing exciting and descriptive. When used incorrectly they can make your sentences a bit cumbersome. Read on to find out more about adverbs so you can improve your written communication.

What Are Adverbs?

Quite simply, adverbs are words that modify the meanings of a verb, an adjective, or another adverb in a sentence. There purpose is to enhance the words they modify. Read the following sentence:

Megan’s kitten Stella sleeps on the pillow beside her.

Is Stella a restless sleeper getting up and down to explore through the night? Is she a sound sleeper purring while dreaming sweet dreams? We can answer this question by adding an adverb to tweak the meaning of the verb sleeps.

Megan’s kitten Stella sleeps contentedly on the pillow beside her.

Adverbs can be single words or they can function as a clause or phrase. They provide information about when, where, why, or how an event occurs or occurred. Consider the following sentences.

You should drive carefully on icy roads.

In the above sentence the adverb carefully modifies the verb drive. It describes how you should drive on icy roads.

Ann wore a very pretty sweater today.

Here the adverb very modifies the adjective pretty. It tells how pretty the sweater is.

Mr. Smith drove quite slowly down the icy road.

In this example the adverb quite modifies the adverb slowly. It tells how slowly Mr. Smith drove.

Regretfully, Julie was late for the party.

Here, the adverb regretfully modifies the entire main clause that follows.

Examples of Adverbs

Many adverbs end in ly. For example:

Happily Completely
Surprisingly Carefully
Rudely Fitfully

However, don’t make the mistake of thinking all words that end in ly are adverbs. Some are adjectives such as the following:

Lonely – He has a lonely heart.

Lovely – It’s a lovely day.

Lively – What a lively party!

In the above examples, these adjectives describe “what kind” or “which one. “

In addition, many one-word adverbs don’t end in ly. They have no specific ending at all.

Then Seldom
Often Never
Next Not

There are multi-word adverbs that function as phrases and clauses. For example:

At 7:00 a.m., the alarm clock jostled Kerry from bed.

At 7:00 a.m. is a prepositional phrase that functions as an adverb to tell when the event occurred.

Harry fried the bacon slices until they sizzled.

The clause until they sizzled tells how Harry cooked the bacon slices.

The Five Types of Adverbs

All adverbs perform the same function, which is to modify a verb, adjective, or other adverb. However they fall into categories of different types. Each of the five types is explained below.

1. Adverbs of Manner: Adverbs of manner answer the question ‘how.’ They come after the direct object or the verb in a sentence.

Catherine speaks French fluently.

David plays the piano well.

Walk slowly down the hallway.

2. Adverbs of Place – These adverbs answer the question ‘where.’ You’ll find them after the object or verb.

I saw Jack standing there.

Chloe was sitting here.

Have you seen my glasses anywhere?

I’m sure I’ll find them somewhere.

3. Adverbs of Frequency – Adverbs of frequency give information about ‘how often.’

Katelyn is always on time.

I sometimes spend an entire Saturday in bed.

We usually have dinner before seven o’clock.

I frequently find myself lost.

4. Adverbs of Degree – These adverbs answer the question ‘how much’ and modify either an adverb or an adjective.

The milk carton is almost empty.

Trevor is totally prepared for the math test.

I am completely exhausted.

5. Adverbs of Time – Adverbs of time answer the question ‘when.’ They are usually found at the beginning or at the end of a sentence.

Afterwards we’re going for ice cream.

I haven’t finished my laundry yet.

I still haven’t received the package.

Have you read any good books lately?

Sarah is late for work every day.

There are numerous words that can function as adverbs and they can be positioned just about anywhere in a sentence. They may end in ly and they may come before or after a verb. In other cases, they modify an adjective or another adverb. With enough practice you can confidently use adverbs in your writing.