Adverb: Definition

An adverb is the part of speech (or word class) that is primarily used to modify a verb, adjective, or other adverb. Adverbs can also modify prepositional phrases, subordinate clauses, and complete sentences. In other words, adverbs tell us in what way someone does something. Adverbs can modify verbs (here: drive), adjectives or other adverbs.


An adverb that modifies an adjective (“quite sad”) or another adverb (“very carelessly”) appears immediately in front of the word it modifies. An adverb that modifies a verb is generally more flexible: it may appear before or after the verb it modifies (“softly sang” or “sang softly“), or it may appear at the beginning of the sentence (“Softly she sang to the baby”). The position of the adverb may have an effect on the meaning of the sentence.


Temporal Adverb – An adverb (such as soon or tomorrow) that describes when the action of a verb is carried out. It is also called a time adverb. An adverb phrase that answers the question “when?” is called a temporal adverb.e.g I always thought that the river was deep, but now I see that deep down it’s shallow.

Manner Adverb – An adverb (such as quickly or slowly) that describes or shows the way an action is carried out. In most cases, the comparative and superlative of manner adverbs are formed with more (or less) and most(or least) respectively. A manner adverb most often appears after a verb or at the end of a verb e.g Ade spokesharply, and brought his head around towards me. Plantings that had been carefully arranged to frame natural or architectural features were carelessly cleared away.

Place Adverb – An adverb (such as here or inside) that describes where the action of a verb is carried out. Also called an adverb of place or a spatial adverb. e.g Television programmes produced in New York and Hollywood are seen worldwide.

Many adverbs–especially adverbs of manner–are formed from adjectives by the addition of the ending -ly (easily, dependably). But many common adverbs (just, still, almost, not) do not end in -ly, and not all words that end in-ly (friendly, neighborly) are adverbs.


Adverb of Emphasis – A traditional term for an intensifier (such as certainly, obviously, undoubtedly) used to give added force or a greater degree of certainty to another word in a sentence or to the sentence as a whole. e.g Deterrence, obviously, is one of the aims of punishment, but it is surely not the only one.

Conjuctive Verb – An adverb that indicates the relationship in meaning between two independent clauses. Unlike a conventional adverb, which usually affects the meaning of only a single word or phrase, the meaning of a conjunctive adverb (or conjunct) affects the entire clause of which it is a part. e.g They were not sleeping on board the brig. On the contrary, they were talking, singing, laughing.

Relative Adverb – An adverb (where, when, or why) that introduces arelative clause, which is sometimes called a relative adverb clause. e.g The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work.

Speech-act Adverb – An adverb (such as franklybriefly, or seriously) that identifies how a speaker intends to speak (or perform the speech act). e.g I prepared a rough draft several months ago, but, frankly, she hasn’t been inclined to sign it.

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