English Language Guide: Adverb

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Adverbs typically modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. They perform a wide range of functions and are especially important for indicating "time, manner, place, degree, and frequency of an event, action, or process." Adjectives and adverbs are often derived from the same word, the majority being formed by adding the "-ly" ending to the corresponding adjective form. Recall the adjectives, "habitual", "pitiful", "impish", We can use them to form the adverbs:
  • "... shining out of the New England reserve with which Holgrave habitually masked whatever lay near his heart."
  • "The lamb tottered along far behind, near exhaustion, bleating pitifully."
  • "Well, and he grinned impishly, "it was one doggone good party while it lasted!"
Some suffixes that are commonly found in adverbs are "-ward(s)" and "-wise":
  • "The plougman homeward plods his weary way."
  • "In tumbling turning, clustering loops, straight downward falling, ..."
  • "2 to 3 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1-inch pieces."
Some adverbs have the same form as the adjectives:
  • "outside":
    • Adverb: "'You'd best begin, or you'll be sorry—it's raining outside."
    • Adjective: "It would be possible to winter the colonies in the barn if each colony is provided with a separate outside entrance; ..."
  • "straight"
    • Adverb: "Five cigars, very dry, smoked straight except where wrapper loosened, as it did in two cases."
    • Adjective: "Numbering among the ranks of the "young and evil" in this text are ... straight women who fall in love with gay men, ..."
Some adverbs are not related to adjectives:
  • "Mr. Bingley was obliged to be in town the following day, and ... Mrs. Bennet was quite disconcerted."
  • "... like a child that, having devoured its plumcake too hastily, sits sucking its fingers, ...."
  • "... oh! ... would she heave one little sigh to see a bright young life so rudely blighted, ...?"
Some adverbs inflect for comparative and superlative forms:
  • "soon"
    • "O error, soon conceived, Thou never comest unto a happy birth, ..."
    • "Nerissa: 'superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer."
    • "'Least said, soonest mended!' "
  • "well"
    • "Valrosa well deserved its name, for in that climate of perpetual summer roses blossomed everywhere."
    • "'I'm afraid your appearance in the Phycological Quarterly was better deserved,' said Mrs. Arkwright, without removing her eyes from the microscope ..."
    • "Who among the typical Victorians best deserved his hate?"
Adverbs are most usually placed at the end of a phrase. Time adverbs (yesterday, soon, habitually) are the most flexible exception. "Connecting Adverbs", such as next, then, however, may also be placed at the beginning of a clause. Other exceptions include "focusing adverbs", which can occupy a middle position for emphasis. "