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What Is an Adverb? Understanding the 5 Types

Posted by Hayley Milliman | Sep 30, 2019 10:00:00 AM

General Education

 

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If you’re trying to describe how, where, or when something happened in your writing, you’ll need to use an adverb. This class of words helps add specificity to what’s going on in the sentence.

In this article, we’ll answer the question “What’s an adverb” by giving an adverb definition, explaining what adverbs can go, and giving examples of different types of adverbs.

 

What Is An Adverb? Simple Definition

An adverb is a word that modifies other words in the sentence. Adverbs can modify verbs, other adverbs, adjectives, or complete sentences.

 

What Do Adverbs Do?

The basic adverb definition is that they give more information about something that happened. Here are some of the questions that adverbs answer:

  • How did x do y?
  • When did x do y?
  • Where did x do y?
  • In what way did x do y?
  • To what extent did x do y?

Take the following sentence: Tom runs slowly. The adverb in the sentence is “slowly,” which explains how Tom runs.

Here’s another example:

My mom and brother are talking outside.

The adverb in this sentence is “outside,” which describes where the subject’s mom and brother are talking.

Each of the five different types of adverbs helps the reader better understand what’s happening in the sentence. Adverbs can modify verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, and whole sentences.

 

The 5 Types of Adverb Definitions

There are five different types of adverbs. Each type of adverb answers a different question.

 

Adverbs of Degree

Adverbs of degree are words that answer the questions “how much” or “to what extent.” Adverbs of degree usually modify other verbs, adjectives, or adverbs.

Here are some examples of adverbs of degree:

  • My calculus homework is very difficult.
  • Nick thinks English history is pretty interesting.
  • Carrie almost always arrives early to dinner.

 

Adverbs of Frequency

Adverbs of frequency answer the question “how often does something happen.” Here are some example of adverbs of frequency:

  • I never go shopping.
  • My mom occasionally lets us order dinner.
  • Patrick always watches television after work.

 

Adverbs of Manner

Adverbs of manner describe how something happens. Adverbs of manner are often “-ly” adverbs like “quickly” or “silently.”

Adverbs of manner modify verbs to tell us the how. Here are some examples:

  • The dog barks loudly.
  • The students shrieked excitedly.
  • The school emptied quickly.

 

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Adverbs of Time

As you can probably tell from their name, adverbs of time tell when something happened (or when it will happen). Adverbs of time can also describe how long something will happen or when it will be over.

  • I have to go to work tomorrow.
  • I’ll learn eventually learn how to cook.
  • We stayed inside and watched television all day.

 

Adverbs of Place

Adverbs of place tell where something happens. You can usually find an adverb of place after a verb. Here are some examples:

  • We went outside to play basketball.
  • My sister ran downstairs to look for her shoes.
  • When my mom got home, she lay down.

 

2 Tips for Identifying Adverbs in Writing

If you’re looking to identify adverbs in a sentence, try these three tips.

 

#1: Ask Yourself These Questions

You can use the questions that adverbs answer to help you identify in the sentence. When you read a sentence, ask yourself, “Which word tells me how?” or “Which word tells me when?”

Here are the questions you can ask yourself:

  • Which word tells me how something happened?
  • Which word tells me when something happened?
  • Which word tells me where something happened?
  • Which word tells me in what something happened?
  • Which word tells me to what extent something happened?

Take yourself through each of these questions. If you find a word that answers one of these questions, then it is an adverb.

Note: there can be more than one adverb in a sentence. If you find more than one word that answers these questions, then they might both be adverbs!

 

#2: Look for the “-ly” Words

Not every word that ends in “-ly” is an adverb, but many are.

Adverbs are often formed by adding the suffix “-ly” to an adjective. For instance, the adjective “quick” becomes the adverb “quickly” when you add “-ly.”

Scan the sentence for an “-ly” word and then ask yourself if it answers one of the questions highlighted above. If it does, then chances are, it’s an adverb.

 

What's An Adverb? Final Thoughts

Adverbs are words that answer these questions:

  • How did x do y?
  • When did x do y?
  • Where did x do y?
  • In what way did x do y?
  • To what extent did x do y?

You can identify the adverbs in your sentence by looking for words that answer those questions.

 

What's Next?

Brushing up on grammar for an upcoming standardized test? Luckily for you, we have expert guides to help you ace your SAT and ACT essays! Click here to learn how to get a perfect 12 on your ACT essay. If you’re aiming to get a perfect 8 | 8 | 8 on the SAT essay, you’ll want to check out this article instead. 

If you’re interested in grammar because you love to write, you might consider majoring in creative writing. If this sounds like you, you should definitely check out this list of the best 12 creative writing programs in the United States

 

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Hayley Milliman
About the Author

Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer who blogs about education, history, and technology. When she was a teacher, Hayley's students regularly scored in the 99th percentile thanks to her passion for making topics digestible and accessible. In addition to her work for PrepScholar, Hayley is the author of Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females.



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