An adverb tells us more about a verb, an adjective, another adverb or even a noun phrase. General definition sometimes ignore the noun phrase part but you should know it exists.
You can form adverbs from some adjectives with the addition of -ly. However, some adverbs are the same as adjectives. Examples: fast, straight, hard (hardly is also an adverb), likely, etc.
Like adjectives, adverbs could use ‘more’ as comparative and ‘most’ as superlative. Examples: more slowly, most likely.
Adverbs usually express manner, time, place, frequency, etc: they tell us how things are done, in what way, to what extent, etc.
adverb and adjective:
- My boss was quite clueless.
(adverb quite modifies the adjective clueless)
adverb and noun phrase:
- He was temporarily the military president.
(adverb temporarily modifies the noun phrase military president)
adverb and verb:
- Ada sang beautifully.
(adverb beautifully modifies the verb sang)
adverb and another adverb:
- Tom spoke extremely slowly.
(adverb extremely modifies the adverb slowly)
Types of adverb
- Adverbs of time tell us about when things happen or events occur. They are: already, early, soon, now, today, tomorrow, recently, etc.
- Wale will edit the scripts soon.
- They promised to see him tomorrow.
- Adverbs of place express where things happen or where they are. They are: nearby, there, upstairs, sideways, etc.
- We went to a nearby store.
- Steve tiptoed upstairs.
- Adverbs of manner explain the way things are done or the way they happen. They are: cautiously, quietly, carefully, greedily, quickly, etc.
- The popular politician embezzled public funds greedily.
- He fired the gun quickly before he could be seen.
- Adverbs of degree elucidate to what extent things are done. They are: almost, nearly, so, too, very, etc.
- He almost got beaten for his arrogance.
- Lucy was very angry with her husband.
- Adverbs of frequency show how often things happen. They are: always, almost, seldom, frequently, rarely, etc. The word seldomly was first recorded in the 16th century but rarely used in today’s English. It is considered wrong by many because we already have seldom as an adverb.
- Journalists always look for the right stories.
- My boss visits South Carolina frequently.
*An adverb can appear under more than one category (e.g. almost is both an adverb of degree and frequency).
*Adverbs could also belong to another part of speech other than adjectives (e.g. upstairs is also a noun).
*The word good is an adjective but could be used informally as an adverb; well is both an adjective and an adverb.