English adverbs of manner

(Use of adverbs of manner in English grammar)

Table of contents – adverbs of manner

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Adverbs of manner explained
  2. Position of adverbs of manner in the sentence
  3. Further explanations and exercises

What are adverbs of manner?

Adverbs of manner are one of the most commonly used adverbs in English. They express how something happens and answer the question “How …?” accordingly. As a rule, their basis for formation is usually the underlying adjective; to illustrate the transformation, the adjective ‘silent’ becomes the adverb ‘silently’, for example. Consider the following:

  • Adverbs of manner are, for example:
    • quickly, kindly, politely, hard, loudly, carefully, slowly, fast, happily, badly, easily, dangerously, excitedly, etc.
  • Example sentences:
    • “Peter is eating the cake quickly.”
    • “The driving student drives dangerously.”

Where can adverbs of manner stand in a sentence?

In general, adverbs can occur at different places in the sentence in English. Where exactly they appear depends primarily on their type and meaning or their reference (for example, to verbs, nouns, etc.). The position may also vary if certain parts of the sentence need emphasis. Unfortunately, these possibilities for positioning are not always clear; but the following rules usually apply:

  1. In most cases, if adverbs of manner refer to the verb in a positive statement, they stand …
    • after the main verb (if no object is present in the sentence):
    • after an existing direct object:
      • “Grandma is telling the story excitingly.”
      • “They closed the door quietly.”
    • between an auxiliary or modal verb and the main verb in transitive use (i.e. when a direct object exists). In that case, the adverb must end in ‘-ly’:
      • “The holiday was good, but we have certainly had better ones.”
        • Here, the auxiliary verbhave’ comes before the adverb 'certainly'.
      • “You can simply ask the teacher.”
        • Likewise, a modal verb may also be employed, just as ‘can’ in this sentence.
  2. In specific cases, however, they may also appear …
    • before the main verb if one wants to emphasize the meaning of the adverb:
      • “He kindly asked for advice.”
      • “The boss surely grants you a few days off.”
      • Attention: Despite this rule, the adverbs ‘fast, hard, well, late’ can never take this position:
        • “He fast walks home.”
          • Incorrect; this word order would not be possible.
        • “He walks home fast.”
          • This way shows the correct word order.
    • … at the beginning of the sentence as a stylistic device to attract the attention of the reader:
      • Nervously, joyfully, she opened the present.”
      • Silently, the burglar tried to break into the house.”
  3. Careful: In a grammatically correct English sentence, an adverb of manner can never occupy the position between the verb and direct object. So, this is never possible:
    • Incorrect: “She is writing quickly a letter.”
    • Correct: “She is writing a letter quickly.”

Further explanations relating to the ‘English adverbs of manner’

The following explanations are related to the topic ‘Use of adverbs of manner in English grammar’ and might therefore be interesting too: