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ADVERBS

Definitionhttp://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/a
dverbs.htm
Adverbsarewordsthatmodify

averb(Hedroveslowly.Howdidhedrive?)

anadjective(Hedroveaveryfastcar.Howfastwashiscar?)

anotheradverb(Shemovedquiteslowlydowntheaisle.Howslowlydidshe
move?)

Aswewillsee,adverbsoftentellwhen,where,why,orunderwhatconditionssomething
happensorhappened.Adverbsfrequentlyendinly;however,manywordsandphrasesnot
endinginlyserveanadverbialfunctionandanlyendingisnotaguaranteethatawordisan
adverb.Thewordslovely,lonely,motherly,friendly,neighborly,forinstance,areadjectives:

Thatlovelywomanlivesinafriendlyneighborhood.

If a group of words containing a subject and verb acts as an adverb (modifying the
verb of a sentence), it is called an AdverbClause:

Whenthisclassisover,we'regoingtothemovies.

Whenagroupofwordsnotcontainingasubjectandverbactsasanadverb,itiscalled
anadverbialphrase.Prepositionalphrasesfrequentlyhaveadverbialfunctions(tellingplace
andtime,modifyingtheverb):

Hewenttothemovies.

Sheworksonholidays.

TheylivedinCanadaduringthewar.

AndInfinitivephrasescanactasadverbs(usuallytellingwhy):

Shehurriedtothemainlandtoseeherbrother.

Thesenatorrantocatchthebus.

Butthereareotherkindsofadverbialphrases:
Click on "Lolly's
Place" to read
and hear Bob
Adverbscanmodifyadjectives,butanadjectivecannotmodifyan
Dorough's "Get
adverb.Thuswewouldsaythat"thestudentsshowedareallywonderful
Your Adverbs
attitude"andthat"thestudentsshowedawonderfullycasualattitude"and
Here" (from
Scholastic
that"myprofessorisreallytall,butnot"Heranrealfast."
Rock, 1974).
Schoolhouse
Likeadjectives,adverbscanhavecomparativeandsuperlativeformsto
Rock
and its
showdegree.
characters
andother
Walkfasterifyouwanttokeepupwithme.
elements are
trademarks and
Thestudentwhoreadsfastestwillfinishfirst.
service marks of
American
Weoftenusemoreandmost,lessandleasttoshowdegreewith
Broadcasting
adverbs:
Companies, Inc.
Used with
permission.
Withsneakerson,shecouldmovemorequicklyamongthe
patients.

Hecallshismotherasoftenaspossible.

TheflowerswerethemostbeautifullyarrangedcreationsI'veeverseen.

Sheworkedlessconfidentlyafterheraccident.

ThatwastheleastskillfullydoneperformanceI'veseeninyears.

Theasasconstructioncanbeusedtocreateadverbsthatexpresssamenessorequality:
"Hecan'trunasfastashissister."
Ahandfulofadverbshavetwoforms,onethatendsinlyandonethatdoesn't.Incertain
cases,thetwoformshavedifferentmeanings:

Hearrivedlate.

Lately,hecouldn'tseemtobeontimeforanything.

Inmostcases,however,theformwithoutthelyendingshouldbereservedforcasualsituations:

ShecertainlydrivesslowinthatoldBuickofhers.

Hedidwrongbyher.

Hespokesharp,quick,andtothepoint.

Adverbsoftenfunctionasintensifiers,conveyingagreaterorlesseremphasistosomething.
Intensifiersaresaidtohavethreedifferentfunctions:theycanemphasize,amplify,ordowntone.
Herearesomeexamples:

Emphasizers:
o Ireallydon'tbelievehim.
o Heliterallywreckedhismother'scar.
o Shesimplyignoredme.
o They'regoingtobelate,forsure.

Amplifiers:
o Theteachercompletelyrejectedherproposal.
o Iabsolutelyrefusetoattendanymorefacultymeetings.
o Theyheartilyendorsedthenewrestaurant.
o Isowantedtogowiththem.
o Weknowthiscitywell.

Downtoners:
o Ikindoflikethiscollege.
o Joesortoffeltbetrayedbyhissister.
o Hismothermildlydisapprovedhisactions.
o Wecanimproveonthistosomeextent.
o Thebossalmostquitafterthat.
o Theschoolwasallbutruinedbythestorm.

Adverbs(aswellasadjectives)intheirvariousdegreescanbeaccompaniedby
premodifiers:

Sherunsveryfast.

We'regoingtorunoutofmaterialallthefaster

Thisissueisaddressedinthesectionondegreesinadjectives.
For this section on intensifiers, we are indebted to A Grammar of Contemporary English by Randolph Quirk, Sidney
Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik. Longman Group: London. 1978. pages 438 to 457. Examples our
own.

Using Adverbs in a Numbered List


Withinthenormalflowoftext,it'snearlyalwaysabadideatonumberitemsbeyondthree
orfour,atthemost.Anythingbeyondthat,you'rebetteroffwithaverticallistthatusesnumbers
(1,2,3,etc.).Also,insuchalist,don'tuseadverbs(withanlyending);useinsteadthe
uninflectedordinalnumber(first,second,third,fourth,fifth,etc.).First(notfirstly),it'sunclear
whattheadverbismodifying.Second(notsecondly),it'sunnecessary.Third(notthirdly),after
yougetbeyond"secondly,"itstartstosoundsilly.Adverbsthatnumberinthismannerare
treatedasdisjuncts(seebelow.)

Adverbs We Can Do Without


ReviewthesectiononBeingConciseforsomeadviceonadverbsthatwecaneliminateto
thebenefitofourprose:intensifierssuchasvery,extremely,andreallythatdon'tintensify
anythingandexpletiveconstructions("Thereareseveralbooksthataddressthisissue.")

Kinds of Adverbs
Adverbs of Manner
She moved slowly and spoke quietly.
Adverbs of Place
She has lived on the island all her life.
She still lives there now.
Adverbs of Frequency
She takes the boat to the mainland every day.
She often goes by herself.
Adverbs of Time
She tries to get back before dark.
It's starting to get dark now.
She finished her tea first.
She left early.

Adverbs of Purpose
She drives her boat slowly to avoid hitting the rocks.
She shops in several stores to get the best buys.

Positions of Adverbs
Oneofthehallmarksofadverbsistheirabilitytomovearoundinasentence.Adverbsof
mannerareparticularlyflexibleinthisregard.

Solemnlytheministeraddressedhercongregation.

Theministersolemnlyaddressedhercongregation.

Theministeraddressedhercongregationsolemnly.

Thefollowingadverbsoffrequencyappearinvariouspointsinthesesentences:

Beforethemainverb:Inevergetupbeforenineo'clock.

Betweentheauxiliaryverbandthemainverb:Ihaverarelywrittentomybrother
withoutagoodreason.

Beforetheverbusedto:Ialwaysusedtoseehimathissummerhome.

Indefiniteadverbsoftimecanappeareitherbeforetheverborbetweentheauxiliaryandthe
mainverb:

Hefinallyshowedupforbattingpractice.

Shehasrecentlyretired.

Order of Adverbs

Thereisabasicorderinwhichadverbswillappearwhenthereismorethanone.Itis
similartoTheRoyalOrderofAdjectives,butitisevenmoreflexible.

THE ROYAL ORDER OF ADVERBS


Verb

Manner

Place

Beth
swims

enthusiastically

in the
pool

Dad
walks

impatiently

Tashonda
naps

Frequency

Time

Purpose

before
dawn

to keep in shape.

into town every afternoon

before
supper

to get a
newspaper.

in her
room

before
lunch.

every morning

every morning

In actual practice, of course, it would be highly unusual to have a string of adverbial modifiers
beyond two or three (at the most). Because the placement of adverbs is so flexible, one or two
of the modifiers would probably move to the beginning of the sentence: "Every afternoon before
supper, Dad impatiently walks into town to get a newspaper." When that happens, the
introductory adverbial modifiers are usually set off with a comma.

More Notes on Adverb Order


Asageneralprinciple,shorteradverbialphrasesprecedelongeradverbialphrases,
regardlessofcontent.Inthefollowingsentence,anadverboftimeprecedesanadverbof
frequencybecauseitisshorter(andsimpler):

Dadtakesabriskwalkbeforebreakfasteverydayofhislife.

Asecondprinciple:amongsimilaradverbialphrasesofkind(manner,place,frequency,etc.),the
morespecificadverbialphrasecomesfirst:

MygrandmotherwasborninasodhouseontheplainsofnorthernNebraska.

ShepromisedtomeethimforlunchnextTuesday.

Bringinganadverbialmodifiertothebeginningofthesentencecanplacespecialemphasison
thatmodifier.Thisisparticularlyusefulwithadverbsofmanner:

Slowly,eversocarefully,Jessefilledthecoffeecupuptothebrim,evenabovethe
brim.

Occasionally,butonlyoccasionally,oneoftheselemonswillgetbytheinspectors.

Inappropriate Adverb Order


ReviewthesectiononMisplacedModifiersforsomeadditionalideasonplacement.
Modifierscansometimesattachthemselvestoandthusmodifywordsthattheyoughtnotto
modify.

TheyreportedthatGiuseppeBalle,aEuropeanrockstar,haddiedonthesixo'clock
news.

Clearly,itwouldbebettertomovetheunderlinedmodifiertoapositionimmediatelyafter"they
reported"oreventothebeginningofthesentencesothepoormandoesn'tdieontelevision.
Misplacementcanalsooccurwithverysimplemodifiers,suchasonlyandbarely:

Sheonlygrewtobefourfeettall.

Itwouldbebetterif"Shegrewtobeonlyfourfeettall."

Adjuncts, Disjuncts, and Conjuncts


Regardlessofitsposition,anadverbisoftenneatlyintegratedintotheflowofasentence.
Whenthisistrue,asitalmostalwaysis,theadverbiscalledanadjunct.(Noticetheunderlined
adjunctsoradjunctiveadverbsinthefirsttwosentencesofthisparagraph.)Whentheadverb
doesnotfitintotheflowoftheclause,itiscalledadisjunctoraconjunctandisoftensetoffbya
commaorsetofcommas.Adisjunctfrequentlyactsasakindofevaluationoftherestofthe
sentence.Althoughitusuallymodifiestheverb,wecouldsaythatitmodifiestheentireclause,
too.Noticehow"too"isadisjunctinthesentenceimmediatelybeforethisone;thatsameword
canalsoserveasanadjunctadverbialmodifier:It'stoohottoplayoutside.Herearetwomore
disjunctiveadverbs:

Frankly,Martha,Idon'tgiveahoot.

Fortunately,noonewashurt.

Conjuncts,ontheotherhand,serveaconnectorfunctionwithintheflowofthetext,signalinga
transitionbetweenideas.

Iftheystartsmokingthoseawfulcigars,thenI'mnotstaying.

We'vetoldthelandlordaboutthisceilingagainandagain,andyethe'sdonenothing
tofixit.

Attheextremeedgeofthiscategory,wehavethepurelyconjunctivedeviceknownasthe
conjunctiveadverb(oftencalledtheadverbialconjunction):

Josehasspentyearspreparingforthisevent;nevertheless,he'sthemostnervous
personhere.

Ilovethisschool;however,Idon'tthinkIcanaffordthetuition.

Authority for this section: A University Grammar of English by Randolph Quirk and Sidney Greenbaum. Longman
Group: Essex, England. 1993. 126. Used with permission. Examples our own.

Some Special Cases


Theadverbsenoughandnotenoughusuallytakeapostmodifierposition:

Isthatmusicloudenough?

Theseshoesarenotbigenough.

Inaroomfulofelderlypeople,youmustremembertospeakloudlyenough.

(Notice,though,thatwhenenoughfunctionsasanadjective,itcancomebeforethenoun:

Didshegiveusenoughtime?

Theadverbenoughisoftenfollowedbyaninfinitive:

Shedidn'trunfastenoughtowin.

Theadverbtoocomesbeforeadjectivesandotheradverbs:

Sherantoofast.

Sheworkstooquickly.

Iftoocomesaftertheadverbitisprobablyadisjunct(meaningalso)andisusuallysetoffwitha
comma:

Yasminworkshard.Sheworksquickly,too.

Theadverbtooisoftenfollowedbyaninfinitive:

Sherunstoo
slowlytoenterthisrace.

Anothercommonconstructionwiththeadverbtooistoofollowedbyaprepositionalphrase
for+theobjectoftheprepositionfollowedbyaninfinitive:

Thismilkistoo
hotforababytodrink.

Relative Adverbs
Adjectivalclausesaresometimesintroducedbywhatarecalledtherelative
adverbs:where,when,andwhy.Althoughtheentireclauseisadjectivalandwillmodifyanoun,
therelativeworditselffulfillsanadverbialfunction(modifyingaverbwithinitsownclause).
Therelativeadverbwherewillbeginaclausethatmodifiesanounofplace:
My entire family now worships in the church where my great grandfather used to be minister.

Therelativepronoun"where"modifiestheverb"usedtobe"(whichmakesitadverbial),butthe
entireclause("wheremygreatgrandfatherusedtobeminister")modifiestheword"church."
Awhenclausewillmodifynounsoftime:
My favorite month is always February, when we celebrate Valentine's Day and Presidents' Day.

Andawhyclausewillmodifythenounreason:
Do you know the reason why Isabel isn't in class today?

Wesometimesleaveouttherelativeadverbinsuchclauses,andmanywritersprefer"that"
to"why"inaclausereferringto"reason":

DoyouknowthereasonwhyIsabelisn'tinclasstoday?

Ialwayslookforwardtothedaywhenwebeginoursummervacation.

Iknowthereasonthatmenlikemotorcycles.

Authority for this section: Understanding English Grammar by Martha Kolln. 4rth Edition. MacMillan Publishing
Company: New York. 1994.

Viewpoint, Focus, and Negative Adverbs

Aviewpointadverbgenerallycomesafteranounandisrelatedtoanadjectivethat
precedesthatnoun:

Asuccessfulathleticteamisoftenagoodteamscholastically.

Investingallourmoneyinsnowmobileswasprobablynotasoundideafinancially.

Youwillsometimeshearaphraselike"scholasticallyspeaking"or"financiallyspeaking"in
thesecircumstances,buttheword"speaking"isseldomnecessary.
Afocusadverbindicatesthatwhatisbeingcommunicatedislimitedtothepartthatis
focused;afocusadverbwilltendeithertolimitthesenseofthesentence("HegotanAjustfor
attendingtheclass.")ortoactasanadditive("HegotanAinadditiontobeingpublished."
Althoughnegativeconstructionslikethewords"not"and"never"areusuallyfound
embeddedwithinaverbstring"Hehasneverbeenmuchhelptohismother."theyare
technicallynotpartoftheverb;theyare,indeed,adverbs.However,asocallednegative
adverbcreatesanegativemeaninginasentencewithouttheuseoftheusual
no/not/neither/nor/neverconstructions:

Heseldomvisits.

Shehardlyeatsanythingsincetheaccident.

Afterherlongandtediouslectures,rarelywasanyoneawake.

Quiz on Adverbs

Order of Adverbs

Guide to Grammar
and Writing

Principles of
Composition

Index

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