The Simple Guide to Adverbs

Whether you take note of them or not you make use of different parts of speech ever day. You might not think about the grammar that you are using, but it is there. But what happens if you would like to know more about grammar – or perhaps you are planning to teach English to foreigners and have to know. Suddenly you may not feel so at home with your home language as what you thought – but no need to worry, there is no need to be a walking textbook. This simple guide will give you a reminder of the deeper workings of the language that you use every day. Whether it's for yourself or to teach to someone else, this simple guide will tell you all you need to know about adverbs.

What is an adverb?

An adverb generally explains a verb (an adjective is a describing word, a verb is a doing word – an adverb describes what is being done). It details, explains and places emphasis on the action indicated by the verb.

Types of adverbs

There are 5 main types of adverbs:

1. Adverbs of manner (quickly, roughly, hard, fast) E.g. He ran quickly.

2. Adverbs of place (there, above, below, here) E.g. Put that over here.

3. Adverbs of time (now, tomorrow, yesterday, last year) E.g. I drank some tea yesterday.

4. Adverbs of frequency (often, never, twice, daily) E.g. I go to the movies every month.

5. Adverbs of degree (very, quite, really, incredibly) – An adverb of degree can add detail to another adverb as well as emphasise an adjective. E.g. She is extremely beautiful.

Additional types

The following adverbs are also worth familiarising as they are used quite often:

- Adverbs of comment (possibly, surely, actually, thankfully) E.g. Unfortunately, we lost the game.

- Adverbs of viewpoint (officially, statistically, technically, normally) E.g. Officially, you need both documents to apply for that position.

- Adding/Limiting adverbs (also, only, just, barely, too) E.g. He just ate the pudding.

- Linking adverbs (initially, firstly, lastly, therefore) E.g. Lastly, I'll put the stamp on the envelope and it will be ready to send.

Linking adverbs vs Coordinating conjunctions

Linking adverbs are sometimes called conjunctive adverbs and are often confused with coordinating conjunctions. Linking adverbs are used as logical connectors between sentences and paragraphs. Coordinating conjunctions connect words, phrases and clauses within sentences.

Coordinating conjunction: I loved that movie so I saw it again.

Linking adverb: I loved that movie; hence, I saw it again.

Linking adverbs cannot stand on their own (or after a comma) when linking sentences, a semi-colon must be used.

Keep it simple

To identify an adverb, determining which words in the sentence help you to answer "how?","to what extent?", "how often?","where?" or "when?" will usually point to the adverb. Scholars often agree that different types of adverbs are used in different positions within a sentence, but adverbs are versatile and most can be used in various positions. As with many aspects of English, some practice is required to know where to place an adverb (and the resulting changes in meaning that each position can sometimes have).