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How to use adverbs

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'He carefully held his granddaughter.'

Adverbs are used to give us more information and are used  to modify verbs, clauses and other adverbs.

The difficulty with identifying adverbs is that they can appear in different places in a sentence.

The simplest way to recognise an adverb is through the common ending –ly.
Examples of –ly adverbs are: quickly, quietly, fortunately.

Most adverbs are made by adding –ly to adjectives:

careful > carefully
loud > loudly
slow > slowly

adverbs with verbs

Here the adverbs are in bold and the verbs are in italics. Here the adverbs give us more information about the verb.

'She slowly entered the room.'
'He carefully drove through the city.'

adverbs with adjectives

Here the adverbs are in bold and the adjectives are in italics. Here the adverbs give us more information about the adjective.

'The test was extremely difficult.'
'I'm incredibly sorry about what I did.'

adverbs with adverbs

Here both adverbs are in bold. The first adverb gives us more information about the second.

'The cheetah runs incredibly quickly.'
'He talks exceptionally loudly.'


Adverbs can be used to change the entire meaning of a sentence. The adverbs are in bold.

'Unfortunately, I will be out of the office for the next 3 days'.
'Surprisingly, the team was beaten in the final.'

confusing adverbs

We have seen how many adverbs are made by adding –ly to the adjective: strong > strongly

Some adverbs are very different from the adjective:

good =adjective / well =adverb
'He's a good golfer.'
'He plays golf well.'

Look at the following sentences; both have adverbs:

'I work hard.'
'I hardly work.'

Hard, which is also an adjective, here means 'with a lot of effort.'
Hardly here means 'very little.'

'He's a fast runner.' – Here fast is an adjective.
'He runs fast.' – Here fast is an adverb.

'It was late at night.' – Here late is an adjective.
'We talked late into the night.' – Here late is an adverb.

combining clauses

We can join two independent clauses (sentences) together using conjuctive adverbs. Conjunctive adverbs show cause and effect, sequence, contrast, comparison, or other relationships.

The most common of these are:


When writing, we must use a semi-colon (;) before the conjunctive adverb. Use a comma (,) after the conjunctive adverb.

Let's take a look at some examples:

'I wanted to eat pizza; however, my wife wanted curry.'
'It had snowed all day; therefore, he decided not to drive in the dangerous conditions.'

Note: In the following sentence no semi colon is needed because it does not separate two clauses. Instead it shows a thought:
'In my opinion, however, it makes no difference.'

Link: What are Auxiliary Verbs?

  • Hurry up! You always walk so ___.

  • You play the guitar very ___.

  • Sue woke up ___ this morning.

  • I could ___ understand anything she said. She spoke too fast.

  • I've always been a ___ worker.

  • The service in the hotel was ___ good.

  • I have been ___ married for 5 years.

  • ___, I don't think this is a good idea.

  • I knew that it was broken;____, they said it was fine.

  • My brother went to university;___, I started working.