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What Are Adverbs? Definition & Types

Are you trying to rewind the grammar lessons on Adverbs? Well, we will help you out in that. By definition, adverb is a part of speech that modifies a verb, another adverb, an adjective, a phrase or a clause. When you say, “He drove the car slowly”, you are actually expressing how the car moved i.e., you are talking about and describing the activity or the verb ‘drove’. Here, as you might have guessed, ‘slowly’ is the adverb in this sentence, which modifies the verb (drove). Indicating the manner, time, place, cause or degree of an activity, adverbs help you convey an idea better and thus, make your writing more interesting and clear. Adverbs often have ‘-ly’ attached to them and this makes it easier to identify them from a given set of words. However, this is not applicable in all cases. Adverbs can be placed anywhere in a sentence and they can be used as amplifiers, down toners or even emphasizers. So, to identify an adverb easily, you need to learn about them in detail. For starters, if a word answers the questions like “how,” “when,” “where,” “how much” etc, it is an adverb. Know more about adverbs in the next section.

Types Of Adverbs

Adverbs are classified as following:

  • Adverbs of Time
  • Adverbs of Frequency
  • Adverbs of Place
  • Adverbs of Manner
  • Adverbs of Purpose
  • Connecting Adverbs
  • Negative Adverbs

Adverbs Of Time

Adverbs of time, generally answer the questions ‘when’, ‘how long’ etc. Words like again, early, late, now, sometime, then, today, tomorrow, tonight, yesterday etc. are used as Adverbs of Time. Have a look at the examples given below:

  • I met him yesterday.
  • They have already left.
  • I’ve been working here since 2005.
  • Now it is time to leave.

Adverbs Of Frequency

Adverbs of frequency explain ‘how often’ something happens or the frequency of an event. They are usually placed before the main verb. Words like always, ever, frequently, generally, never, often, rarely, seldom, sometimes, usually etc. denote adverbs of frequency. Have a look at these examples.

  • I have seen him only once.
  • He called again this morning.
  • They sometimes spend the whole of Saturday fishing.
  • Kate visits her frequently.

Adverbs Of Place

Adverbs of place provide information on the place of action or event. They generally answer the question ‘where’. Sometimes, adverbs of place act as prepositions as well. Adverbs of place, most often take the end position of a clause where they come before adverbs of time and adverbs of purpose. The adverbs of place are put behind the main verb. They are also called adverbs of location and include usage of words like ahead, back, forward, here, high, low, near, outside, somewhere, there etc. For example:

  • He looked up.
  • I searched for him everywhere.
  • My passport is here in my bag.
  • Pablo is upstairs.

Adverbs Of Manner

Adverbs of manner explain how an event or an action takes place; generally answering the question ‘how’. Mostly, adverbs of manner are words ending with ‘-ly’. Position of the adverb of manner depends upon presence of other adverbs. The adverbs of manner appear in the middle of a clause when it has no adverb of frequency, the beginning of a clause to emphasize the idea expressed and at the end if they come after an intransitive verb. Here, words such as carefully, correctly, eagerly, easily, fast, loudly, patiently, quickly, quietly, well etc. are used as adverb of manner. For example:

  • This essay is well written.
  • She walked slowly.
  • You must drive your car carefully.
  • Eat quietly.

Adverbs of Purpose 

Adverbs of purpose generally provide an answer to the question ‘Why’. They express the reason or the purpose of the action or the event which happens or happened or will happen. Adverbs of purpose are brought in by the subordinating conjunctions like so, lest, so that, to, in order to, because, since, accidentally, intentionally, purposely etc. For example:

  • We eat that we may live.
  • He works hard so that he may become a millionaire.
  • Bob accidentally broke the vase.
  • We gifted a novel to him in order to improve his reading skills.

Connecting Adverbs

Connecting adverbs are brought in to connect and link the ideas expressed by the clause, where they occur, to thoughts conveyed in the previous clause. Here, words like also, consequently, furthermore, hence, however, moreover, nevertheless, otherwise, therefore, thus etc. are used to link the sentences and give a support to the main clause. For example:

  • I would like to go skiing. However, I have too much work to do.
  • We have, therefore, decided to do it.
  • She was very busy; nevertheless, she found time to go swimming.

Negative Adverbs 

A negative adverb includes an adverb with an explicit negative meaning (never, not) and with implicit negative meanings (hardly, seldom). Negative adverbs gives a negative sense to the sentence with the usage of words such as – barely, hardly, little, never, not, nowhere, rarely, scarcely, seldom etc. For example:

  • hardly have any cash to lend to the poor.
  • There is little wheat left in the packet.
  • I have no interest in rockstars and their music.

Other than this, the negative adverbs are of two types: Double Negatives and Inverted Word Order.

Double Negatives: Double negatives refer to a place where two negative words are used in one clause. An example can be: ‘He never told nobody the secret’. This structure however, isn’t quite permitted in formal language and I seen more in the informal speech of people nowadays.

Inverted Word Order: An inverted word order is usually used if a sentence begins with a negative adverb, with the subject succeeding the simple present or simple past of the verb. An example can be: “Not for many years was the true story known” as against the rather regular, “The story was not known for many years”. This form of writing is mostly used in narratives and creative stories.

Rules are meant to be broken they say, but never try that with English Grammar or else you might just get yourself in trouble with the literary experts of the field; not to mention the damage that you are likely to cause to your writings. Use adverbs when most required otherwise it could just annoy a reader and show a lack of vocabulary and verbs.

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