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Adverbs, Adjectives and Linking Verbs

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This is an overview of the use of adverbs, adjectives, and linking verbs. Other lessons cover their uses and meanings in more detail.


Adverbs are formed by adding -ly to the adjective. This is however by no means a fixed way of forming adverbs as there are also several irregular adverbs such as 'well' and 'fast'.

1 Adverbs can be used to modify verbs

Peter walked purposefully towards the door.
Sarah stood impassively waiting for an answer.

2 Adverbs can be used to modify adjectives

The delegates were depressingly silent listening to the presentation.
The cruise was terribly expensive

3 Adverbs can modify other adverbs

He wrote extremely well.
He ran unbelievably quickly for a man his size.


There are many different endings for adjectives; -ive, -ous, -y, -ful, -ent, -ant and many others. Beautiful, confident, funny, attractive, intelligent and gorgeous are all adjectives.

1 Adjectives can modify nouns

Peter drives a classic sports car.
She wore a gorgeous dress.

2 Adjectives often follow linking verbs

Max is tall for his age.
Sarah seems angry.

Linking Verbs

Appear, be, become, feel, get, go, grow, look, prove, remain, seem, smell, sound, stay, taste, turn.

These verbs are often followed by adjectives instead of adverbs. In these sentences the adjective describes the subject of the sentence and not the verb which is why an adverb is not possible.

Look at these examples:

Sarah seemed tired. (not tiredly)
Peter seemed angry
The wine tastes fine.
The signal is low.
Peter grew tired of listening.
The food all went bad.
She remained calm.

However the verbs in the list are not always used as linking verbs.

The food went bad. In this sentence the verb 'went' is being used to link the adjective 'bad' to the noun 'food'.

The meeting went badly. In this sentence the verb 'went' is used to mean 'progressed' and the adverb 'badly' is explaining how.

Peter grew angry. In this sentence 'grew' is being used to link the adjective 'angry' to 'Peter'.

The weeds grew quickly. 'Quickly' here does not describe the weeds but the speed at which they grew. Here 'grew' is not linking the noun, 'Peter' to the adjective, 'angry'.

Lesson by Tristan, teacher at EC Malta English school

Now choose the correct word for the following:

  • 1. Danny spoke _ to his audience.

  • 2. There is a _ chance that it will rain tomorrow.

  • 3. I knew that giving a good impression would become _ later.

  • 4. He really understands the Asians. Probably being _ in the language helps.

  • 5. Your _ lack of commitment is not helping your advancement in the company.

  • 6. We have become _ dependent on computer technology.

  • 7. He may seem _ but he is the head of the corporation.