Adverbs modify verbs. They tell you how something is done, when something is done, or where something is done.
- She sings beautifully.
- They drive carefully.
- She eats her food slowly.
- She always gets up early.
- They use the desk here.
Below you will find rules on how to form and use adverbs in English.
Rule: Adverbs are often formed by adding -ly to an adjective
- Example: beautiful – beautifully, careful – carefully
Exceptions – Some adjectives don’t change in the adverb form.
The most important of these are: fast – fast, hard – hard
Good is probably the most important exception. The adverb form of ‘good’ is ‘well’.
- He speaks English well.
- Tom plays tennis very well.
Rule: Adverbs can also modify an adjective. In this case, the adverb is placed before the adjective.
- She is extremely happy.
- They are absolutely sure.
Exceptions – Do not use ‘very’ with adjectives that express an increased quality of a basic adjective
Example: good – fantastic
- She is an absolutely fantastic piano player.
- Mark is a very good public speaker. In fact, he is an absolutely amazing lecturer.
Rule: Adverbs of frequency (always, never, sometimes, often, etc.) usually come before the main verb:
- He is often late for class.
- Do you always eat in a restaurant?
- They don’t usually travel on Fridays.
Exceptions – Adverbs of frequency expressing infrequency are not used in the negative or question form.
Some adverbs of frequency are sometimes placed at the beginning of a sentence. The most common of include ‘sometimes’ and ‘often’.
- Sometimes, I enjoy staying at home instead of going on vacation.
- Often, Peter will telephone his mother before he leaves for work.
Adverbs of frequency follow – come after – the verb ‘to be’.
- He is sometimes late for work.
- I am often confused by computers.