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Adverbs

An adverb tells us more about a verb. An adverb tells us in what way someone does something or in what way something happens.

1. Kinds of adverbs

Manner: fast, happily, quickly, well

Place: down, here, there, near, up

Time: now, soon, then, today, yet

Frequency: always, never, often, twice

Sentence: certainly, definitely, surely

Degree: hardly, rather, too, very

Interrogative: When? Where? Why?

Relative: when, where, why

2. Form and use

A. Many adverbs of manner and some adverbs of degree are formed by adding ly to the corresponding adjectives:

quick-quickly serious-seriously slow-slowly

Spelling notes:

a) A final y changes to i: happy-happily

b) A final e remains unchanged: brave-bravely

Exceptions: true-truly, due-duly, whole-wholly

c) Adjectives ending in a consonant+le drop the final e and add y:

capable-capably sensible-sensibly gentle-gently

d) Adjectives ending in a vowel+l follow the usual rule:

beautiful-beautifully final-finally

B. Exceptions

a) The adverb of good is well.

Your English is very good. You speak English very well.

We often use well with past participles: well-known, well-dressed, well- educated.

But well is also an adjective with the meaning ‘in good health’.

How are you today?’ ‘I’m very well, thanks.’

b) kindly can be adjective or adverb.

c) Not all words ending in ly are adverbs, e.g. friendly, likely, lonely, lively, elderly, silly, lovely cannot be used as adverbs and have no adverb forms. To supply this deficiency we use a similar adverb or adverb phrase:

likely (adjective) - probably (adverb)

friendly (adjective) - in a friendly way (adverb phrase)

3. Some words are both adjectives and adverbs:

back hard* long straight

deep* high* low well

early kindly near*

enough late* pretty*

far left short*

fast little still

Starred words above also have ly forms. Note the meanings:

deeply is used chiefly of feelings: He was deeply offended.

hardly has completely different meaning from hard. Hardly = almost not.

They hardly know each other.

My leg troubles me. I can hardly walk.

Be careful not to confuse the adverbs hard and hardly:

He looked hard at it. (He stared at it.)

He hardly looked at it. (He gave it only a brief glance.)

highly is used only in an abstract sense: They spoke very highly of him.

lately = recently Have you seen him lately.

nearly = almost I’m nearly ready.

prettily corresponds to the adjective pretty (attractive):

Her little girls are always prettily dressed.

But pretty can also be an adverb of degree meaning very:

The exam was pretty difficult.

shortly = soon, briefly

Other adverbs of this type: close, sharp, wide.