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Types of Adverbs in English: All You Need to Know

Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives or other adverbs. The 5 main types of adverbs can give us more information about frequency, manner, degree, place and time. In this study guide, you will learn all about the different types of adverbs with examples of how to use them in a sentence. Check out the exercises at the end to test your understanding!

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What you will learn:

 

What are adverbs?

Adverbs are incredibly useful words, which give us more information about where, when, how and how often something happens. It can be difficult to learn all the rules for using adverbs because they do not all look the same and they can be positioned in more than one place in a sentence.

Adverbs modify verbs, don’t they?

Adverbs can modify verbs, but they can also modify adjectives and even other adverbs. Adverbs of manner modify verbs, so we can walk slowly, quickly or clumsily. Adverbs of degree can modify adjectives, for example extremely clever. Some adverbs modify other adverbs, for example, fairly easily.

All adverbs end in ‘-ly’, don’t they?

Some adverbs end in ‘-ly’, but not all of them. Most adverbs of degree end in ‘-ly’, such as slowly and easily. However, there are many adverbs that do not end in ‘-ly’. These range from time adverbs, such as later, ago and already to adverbs of frequency, such as often and never.
 

Types of adverbs (with examples)

Types of Adverbs – quick table

5 Main Types of Adverbs
TYPEUSE THEM TO SAY….ADVERBSEXAMPLE SENTENCES
1. Frequency How often something happensUsually, sometimes, never, often, always, rarely, occasionally, seldom1. I’ve never seen a ghost.
2. How often do you get your hair cut?
2. DegreeThe level or % to which something happensVery, absolutely, totally, rather, quite, really, completely, extremely, fairly1. I’m completely confused about the rules.
2. That detective novel was absolutely brilliant!
3. Manner How something happensQuickly, slowly, easily, fast, well, carefully, correctly, noisily, silently1. He completed his work correctly.
2. I can easily call again later.
4. PlaceWhere something happensThere, here, upstairs, downstairs, indoors, anywhere, abroad, northwards1. I can’t find my pen. Oh here it is!
2. She says she would like to live abroad.
5. TimeWhen something happensSoon, early, now, today, tomorrow, yesterday, then, now, lately, next1. I went to the park today.
2. Have you been to the cinema lately?
1. Adverbs of frequency

Adverbs of frequency give information about how often things happen. They modify verbs and their usual sentence position is between the subject and the main verb in the sentence. Adverbs of frequency can appear at the beginning of a clause when we want to emphasise the frequency of an action. Usually, sometimes, often and never are all examples of adverbs of frequency.

Adverbs of frequency: examples

I usually go swimming once a week.

How often do you go to the seaside?

Sometimes I prefer to be alone.

I never walk to school.

I don’t usually like sweet things, but this cake is delicious!

Read our full guide about Adverbs of Frequency.

2. Adverbs of degree

Adverbs of degree tell us the extent to which something happens – or how much something happens. Adverbs of degree can modify verbs, adjectives and other adverbs. They fall into two groups: adverbs that make the meaning stronger, such as very, totally and absolutely vs. adverbs that weaken the meaning, such as fairly and quite.

Adverbs from this group usually appear in a mid-sentence position, before the verb, adverb or adjective. To modify an adjective using an adverb of degree, you need to consider if the adjective is gradable or ungradable. A gradable adjective like hot can be modified by very and really, (very hot, really hot), but it cannot be modified by absolutely. We can, however, say ‘I’m absolutely boiling’ because boiling is an ungradable adjective.

To intensify a verb, such as ‘like’ or ‘love’, use the adverb really, not very. For example: I really like watching films on TV (Not: I very like…).

Adverbs of degree: examples

I completely understand the problem.

That is totally ridiculous.

Are you absolutely sure you sent that email yesterday?

I’m not very happy with my new phone.

She reads books incredibly quickly.

Read our full guide about Adverbs of Degree.

Adverbs of degree can modify other adverbs in a sentence. Adverbs, such as very, and extremely, can be put before another adverb to strengthen the meaning. E.g. I very rarely go to the cinema (adverb of degree + adverb of time).

3. Adverbs of manner

Adverbs of manner are used to give information about how we do something. Adverbs of manner modify verbs and nearly all of them end in ‘-ly’. They can be used to describe, for example, how quickly, loudly or in what style we do something. These adverbs are usually positioned after the verb.

Adverbs of manner are generally formed by adding ‘-ly’ to an adjective, e.g. loudly. There are some spelling changes to consider. Adjectives ending in ‘-y’ change to ‘-ily’, for example easy becomes easily. Adjectives ending in ‘-ful’ change to ‘-fully’, e.g. beautifully.

There are a few adverbs of manner that do not end in ‘-ly’, for instance well, fast and hard.

Adverbs of manner: examples

I ate my lunch slowly.

She worked hard.

The dog barked noisily.

I can easily win this race!

He filled in the form correctly.

Read our full guide about Adverbs of Manner.

4. Adverbs of place

Adverbs of place describe where an action happens. These type of adverbs modify verbs. In a sentence an adverb of place occurs after the main verb or its object. Adverbs in this group include: here, there, outside, near and far.

Adverbs of place: examples

She ran upstairs.

Our path took us northwards.

Where are my keys? I put them here!

When it rained we had to go indoors.

She couldn’t find her purse anywhere.

Read our full guide about Adverbs of Place.

5. Adverbs of time

Adverbs of time give information about when something happened. These adverbs can describe fixed points in time, such as today and tomorrow, frequency of an action, e.g. hourly, and comparisons of time, such as recently and earlier. Adverbs of time usually occur after the main verb.

Adverbs of time: examples

I hope we can meet soon.

He always arrives early.

Have you watched any good films lately?

I will give her a call now.

I’m going to write my essay tomorrow.

Read our full guide about Adverbs of Time.

Adverbs of time, such as later, earlier, yesterday and today, can appear at the start of a sentence to emphasise when something happened. E.g. Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now, it looks as though they’re here to stay (The Beatles).

Other types of adverbs

Linking adverbs

The group of words generally known as ‘linking words’ are in fact adverbs. This category includes adverbs such as however, therefore, nevertheless and moreover. These adverbs are used to link two clauses in a sentence. Here are some examples of linking adverbs:

I have read a lot about ancient history, however, I am not an expert on the subject.

I really want to pass my exam, therefore, I need to work very hard.

Adverbs of certainty

We use adverbs of certainty to express how sure we are about something. This category includes adverbs like: probably, certainly and definitely. For example:

It will probably rain tomorrow.

I definitely prefer teaching to working in an office.

Adverbs that modify a sentence

An adverb can also modify a whole sentence. These sentence adverbs include: fortunately, generally and interestingly. This type of adverb occurs at the start of the sentence and it expresses a general opinion or feeling about the main idea of the sentence. The following are examples of sentence adverbs:

Generally, I prefer travelling by train.

Fortunately, everyone arrived in time for the school trip.
 

How do we use them?

The position of an adverb in a sentence depends on the type of adverb.

1. Modifying a verb

Adverbs which modify verbs occur after the verb or after the object:

Subject + main verb + adverb of manner
e.g. He runs fast.

Subject + main verb + object + adverb of time
e.g. I climbed a mountain yesterday.

Adverbs of degree occur before the main verb:

Subject + adverb of degree + main verb
e.g. I thoroughly enjoyed the film.

Adverbs do not occur between the verb and its direct object.
The following example is not possible in English.

e.g. I haven’t eaten yet my breakfast. (Incorrect!)

2. Modifying an adjective or an adverb

Adverbs which modify an adjective or adverb occur before the adverb or adjective.

Subject + main verb + adverb of degree + adjective
e.g. I am very tired.

Subject + main verb + adverb of degree + adverb
e.g. He runs extremely fast.

3. Sentences with more than one adverb

Adverbs of place occur before adverbs of time in a sentence:

e.g. They played outside today.
e.g. I’m going out later.

4. Positioning an adverb at the start of a sentence

Adverbs can occur at the start of a sentence. The types of adverbs which most often occur in this position are time adverbs and linking adverbs.  Adverbs which express the speaker’s opinion can also appear at the start of the sentence. Compare the following examples with time adverbs, linking adverbs and opinion adverbs.

Later, I went to visit my friend.
However, there was nobody at home when I arrived.
Personally, I find this rather rude. 
 

Additional information about adverbs

Adjectives and adverbs

Adjectives describe nouns or pronouns, whereas adverbs modify verbs, adjectives or other adverbs. Compare these two examples:

It was an easy exam. (adjective – describes the exam)

She completed the exam easily. (adverb – describes how the action was done)

Most adverbs are formed by adding ‘ly’ to an adjective, for example: quickly, slowly, and beautifully.

Some adverbs are not formed by adding ‘-ly’ to an adjective, for example good becomes well. A few adjectives and adverbs have exactly the same form, e.g. fast, hard and late.

Adverb phrases

Adverb phrases are formed with an adverb and one or two other words. The adverb may be pre-modified (before the adverb) or post-modified (after the adverb). These are examples of adverb phrases:

Very late

Almost never

Extremely slowly

Fast enough (Note: we never say ‘Enough fast’!)

Adverb phrases function like an adverb in a sentence. So, in the case of very late, this phrase would occur after the verb: She arrived very late.

An adverbial is a word or phrase which explains how, where, when or how often something is done. Adverb phrases and adverbs are both adverbials.

 

Types of adverbs: exercises

  1. Which one of the following cannot be modified by an adverb?
    1. a verb
    2. an adjective
    3. an adverb
    4. a noun
  2. Which of the following is an adverb of frequency?
    1. then
    2. when
    3. often
    4. ago
  3. Which one of these sentences is incorrect?
    1. He sometimes plays basketball.
    2. He plays sometimes basketball.
    3. He plays basketball sometimes.
    4. Sometimes he plays basketball.
  4. Which adverb is spelled incorrectly?
    1. luckily
    2. regularly
    3. abroad
    4. suddenily
  5. Which one of the following is an adverb of manner?
    1. slightly
    2. carefully
    3. absolutely
    4. always

 

Questions 6-10. Choose the most suitable adverb to complete each sentence.

  1. My teacher ____________ gives us homework.
    a. earlier.  b. occasionally.  c. badly
  2. He plays the piano ______________.
    a. well    b. recently   c. before
  3. She talks very _________________.
    a. fortunately.  b. silently   c. confidently
  4. He had ___________________ worked as a lawyer.
    a. previously   b. totally.  c. hard
  5. Are you taking your exam _______________?
    a. quickly   b. before   c. soon
  1. Which sentence tells us that the person does not watch films?
    1. I hardly ever watch films.
    2. I don’t usually watch films.
    3. I watch films regularly.
    4. I never watch films.
  2. Which sentence tells us about an event which has not happened yet?
    1. We ate at the restaurant earlier.
    2. The restaurant was incredibly busy yesterday.
    3. I’ve just been to the restaurant with Sue.
    4. I’m going to the restaurant later.
  3. Which one of these adverbs has the closest meaning to ‘rarely’?
    a. hardly.  b. never   c. seldom   d. often
  4. Which one of these time adverbs cannot be used to talk about the past?
    a. already   b. before  c. previously  d. soon
  5. Which adverb of manner cannot be preceded by not. (e.g. He is not ______ confident)
    1. very
    2. absolutely
    3. particularly
    4. terribly
  6. Which answer shows the adverbs of frequency in the right order beginning with the least frequent?
    1. rarely, sometimes, never, often
    2. usually, rarely, sometimes, never
    3. sometimes, often, never, usually
    4. rarely, sometimes, often, usually
  7. Which one of the following sentences is incorrect?
    1. I don’t often eat pizza.
    2. I don’t usually like pizza.
    3. I haven’t eaten pizza much recently.
    4. I don’t sometimes eat pizza.
  8. In the following sentence, is it the verb, the noun or the adverb that is being modified? She decorated the cake carefully this morning.
    1. verb
    2. noun
    3. adverb
  9. Frankly, I don’t understand why you are so angry. In this sentence is it the verb, the adjective or the whole sentence that is being modified?
    1. verb
    2. adjective
    3. whole sentence
  10. Which sentence is incorrect?
    1. I put on my coat carefully and left the house.
    2. I put carefully on my coat and left the house.
    3. Carefully I put on my coat and left the house

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Answers:

  1. a noun
  2. c. often
  3. b.
  4. d. suddenly
  5. d. always
  6. b. occasionally
  7. a. well
  8. c. confidently
  9. a. previously
  10. c. soon
  11. d. I never watch films.
  12. d. I’m going to the restaurant later.
  13. c. seldom
  14. d. soon
  15. b. absolutely
  16. d. rarely, sometimes, often, usually
  17. d.
  18. a. verb
  19. c. whole sentence
  20. b
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Judith Pett — ESL Tutor
Judith P.
— ESL Tutor
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