Use of adverbs in English

(Using and forming adverbs in English grammar)

Table of contents – adverbs

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Rules for using adverbs
  2. Formation of adverbs
  3. Further explanations and exercises

What are adverbs (what are the rules)?

Adverbs are words that modify or ascribe more details to verbs, adjectives, other adverbs or even whole sentences in particular. They express how something happens or is done or how something or a person is. In English clauses, they can appear either as adverbials (and thus, as a constituent) or as a grammatical modifier (and thus, as a part of a constituent). Compare the following:

  • Some examples of how adverbs may appear in sentences:
    • “David speaks loudly.”
      • The adverb ‘loudly’ refers to (modifies) the verbspeaks’ here.
    • “Deer are extremely shy animals.”
      • In this statement, the adverb ‘extremely’ modifies the adjectiveshy’.
    • “Sarah drives very carefully.”
      • The adverb ‘very’ modifies the second adverb ‘carefully’, which in turn modifies the verb ‘drives’.

How are adverbs formed?

The formation of adverbs in English varies slightly in some cases, depending on the related adjective. However, it is not unlikely that an adverb has ‘-ly’ at the end. Compare the following possibilities of forming:

  • English adverbs usually originate from the underlying adjective by simply appending ‘-ly’:
    • loudloudly
    • quickquickly
    • quietquietly
  • Adjectives that already end in ‘-y’ replace the ‘-y’ by ‘-ily’:
    • happyhappily
    • easyeasily
  • If an adjective ends in ‘-ble’ or ‘-tle’, merely the ‘-e’ is replaced by a ‘-y’:
    • sensiblesensibly
    • gentlegently
  • Adjectives ending in ‘-ic’, the suffix ‘-ally’ is appended. The ‘a’ is not stressed:
    • basicbasically
    • ironicironically

Further explanations related to the topic ‘Adverbs in English’

The following explanations relate to the topic ‘Using and forming adverbs in English grammar’ and might therefore be helpful too: