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How to Form Adverbs (An Overview)

How to form adverbs

Formation of adverbs

Continue reading for the comprehensive breakdown on how to form adverbs, the main types of adverbs and an FAQ on (you guessed it!) adverbs!

Main types of adverbs

  • When did you arrive?

  • The building where I work was built in 1922.

  • I take the metro daily.

Consider how each of these sentences uses adverbs.

When is a question about time, (which makes it an adverb of time); but, importantly: it asks a question. Adverbs that we use to ask a question we refer to as interrogative adverbs (examples are where, why, how, etc.)

The second sentence includes “where“, though in this context it’s not to pose a question, and so it’s not used interrogatively. Instead, it’s modifying a verb (namely, “work”) and makes the relation to its antecedent (“the building”) clear. These types of adverbs are known as relative adverb; as they help relate elements within a sentence.

The third sentence shows a simple adverb, which modifies a verb, adjective or another adverb. Altogether, this makes 3 main adverbial classes: interrogative, relative and simple.

Adverbs vs. adjectives

What’s tricky about certain adverbs is that they can look identical to their corresponding adjective counterparts. This means that some words are used as adjectives or as adverbs—though not at the same time. Naturally, this can makes things confusing.

Luckily, we can distinguish between them by how they appear in a sentence:

  • Adjective: I play loud music in my apartment.

  • Adverb: Don’t talk so loud.

Music is a noun, and since we know that adjectives modify nouns and not adverbs, we can confidently state that ‘loud’ is used in the first sentence as an adjective. From the second sentence, to talk is obviously an action and verb, and we know adverbs modify verbs, and so, et voilà: it’s an adverb.

The takeaway is that to identify whether it’s working as an adjective or adverb, locate the word or phrase it modifies and its word class.

How to form adverbs

Some adverbs (like adjectives) use various forms to show degrees of comparison, and we also compare them the same way we do adjectives.

In other words, to create their comparative and superlative forms, attach –er and –est (respectively).


Those that end in –ly use more before to form a comparative, and most as a superlative.

quietlymore quietlymost quietly
slowlymore slowlymost slowly
seriouslymore seriouslymost seriously
skillfullymore skilllfullymost skillfully

Note: not all adverbs have comparative and superlative forms since some are not subject to comparisons (by extent or degree). Examples are adverbs such as there, when, then, now, where.

Some use their own forms entirely, and are to that extent ‘irregular’.

ill or badlyworseworst

Most adverbs of manner (which answers how, or in what way) are formed from adjectives and add –ly.


For adverbs that end in ‘-y’ followed by a consonant, switch the ‘-y‘ to ‘-i‘ and add ‘-ly‘.


FAQ: adverbs

  1. What’s an adverb?

Adverbs are words that modify or describe other adverbs, verbs, adjectives, entire sentences or occasionally, phrases within a sentence.

  1. What are the main types of adverbs?

The 3 main classes of adverbs are relative, simple and interrogative. The main subtypes include some of the following:

  1. Adverbs of manner.
  2. Adverbs of place.
  3. Adverbs of time.
  4. Adverbs of frequency.
  5. Adverbs of purpose.
  6. Adverbs of degree.

Learn the other parts of speech


  1. High School Grammar and Composition, P.C. Wren.

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