Adverbs with special forms

(Using special forms of adverbs in English)

Table of contents – adverbs with special forms

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Particularities of adverbs
  2. No adverbs after certain verbs
  3. Double meaning of adverbs
  4. Further explanations and exercises

Particularities of adverbs in English

In English, besides adverbs with regular formation by appending ‘-ly’, there are also some that possess particular forms. Although these forms end in ‘-ly’ too, they have a completely different meaning to their counterpart (either adjective or adverb). Moreover, some adjectives cannot produce an adverb at all. Note therefore that the adjectives listed below retain their form as an adverb – by adding the suffix ‘-ly’, they obtain a different meaning:

  • Compare the following adjectives and adverbs with special forms and their use with ‘-ly’ as the suffix:
    • hardhardly:
      • “Peter is a hard worker.”
        • adjective
      • “Peter works hard.”
        • adverb
      • “Peter hardly works.”
        • adverb
    • latelately:
      • “In late summer we went hiking.”
        • adjective
      • “He arrived late last night.”
        • adverb
      • “Have you seen her lately?”
        • adverb
    • fast:
      • “She is a fast driver.”
        • adjective
      • “She drives fast.”
        • adverb
      • Careful: For the word ‘fast’, a form with ‘-ly’ is not possible.
        • Incorrect would be ‘fastly’.
  • The adjective or adverb ‘good/well’ is another exception:
    • “Jane is a good singer.”
      • adjective
    • “Jane sings well.”
      • adverb
    • But: “How are you? – I’m very well.”
      • adjective

No adverb after certain verbs

Furthermore, it needs to be considered that some verbs cannot be combined with adverbs. If a verb of this type appears in the sentence, only an adjective and no adverb may follow. Now, read the most important ones:

  • Some verbs that only go with adjectives:
    • to be
    • to get
    • to become
    • to keep
    • to seem
    • to sound
    • to remain
    • to stay
    • to turn
    • to grow
  • Example sentences:
    • “She is very nice.”
    • “The task seems easy.”

Which of the adverbs have double meanings?

In addition to the adverbs with exceptions mentioned above, few others exist that have different meanings when appearing with and without the suffix ‘-ly’. Compare the most common ones in the list:

  • By appending ‘-ly’ to these adverbs, the following differences in meaning occur. Example sentences are given in brackets:
    • fair (→ “The whole team have played fair.”)
    • fairly (→ “This task is fairly simple.”)
    • free (→ “Now, the book is available free of charge.”)
    • freely (→ “Guests can move freely around the hotel complex to enjoy all leisure facilities.”)
    • high (→ “Don’t throw the ball so high.”)
    • highly (→ “Your help is highly appreciated.”)
    • most (→ “His second statement was the most convincing one.”)
    • mostly (→ “Tornados occur, but mostly in the east of the country.”)
    • near (→ “He works somewhere near.”)
    • nearly (→ “We have nearly finished.”)
    • pretty (→ “That phone costs pretty much.”)
    • prettily (→ “She always smiles prettily.”)
    • right (→ “A bird is sitting right behind you.”)
    • rightly (→ “He usually remembers rightly.”)
    • wrong (→ “The students pronounce the word wrong.”)
    • wrongly (→ “The man was wrongly imprisoned.”)

Further explanations related to the ‘Adverbs with special forms’

The following explanations are related to the topic ‘Using special forms of adverbs in English’ and may also be interesting: