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What’s an Adverb? (Types of Adverbs)

What's an adverb?

What is an adverb?

Adverbs are words that modify or describe verbs (“he sleeps soundly“), adjectives (“she’s fiercely competitive”), other adverbs (“she writes quite meticulously”). Occasionally, adverbs even modify phrases and complete sentences (when they’re used at the start of the sentence).

Adverbs (explained + examples)

  1. She drives carelessly.

  2. It’s extremely sweet.

  3. She writes quite thoughtfully.

The first sentence tells us the manner or way in which she drives, which is a verb.

Extremely‘, from the second example, says to what extent or degree that thing has the quality of being sweet (an adjective). ‘Quite‘ says how far or the extent to which she writes thoughtfully (which is another adverb).

Besides modifying adverbs, verbs and adjectives, adverbs can also modify phrases within a sentence, or complete sentences (when they start off the sentence, in the latter case).

  • Complete sentence: Fortunately, I had brought an umbrella. [or, ‘I had fortunately brought an umbrella.’]

  • Phrase: Have you read all through this book?

Some adverbs belong to more than one kind or class. For example, far can be an adverb of place or of degree, depending on the context in which we use it.

  • Place: Don’t wander far.

  • Degree: he’s far better off now that he works for another company.

Types of adverbs (with examples)

There are 7 main types of adverbs altogether, which are grouped according to their meaning:

types of adverbs + usageUsed in sentences
1. Adverbs of time (show when)She just called a few minutes ago.

I’ve heard this before.
2. Adverbs of frequency (how often)I’ve told you twice.

They seldom show up for gatherings these days.
3. Adverbs of place (where)Go there.

Stand here.
4. Adverbs of manner (how or in what way)The boy works hard.

The team played fairly.
5. Adverbs of degree or quantity (the extent or degree)She sings pretty well.

He was too careless.
6. Affirmative and negative (confirms or denies)He was positively enamoured by her.

Femke was in no condition to demand anything.
7. Adverbs of reason (answers why or explains)She left early because she wanted to avoid traffic.

I don’t eat meat because I’m a vegetarian.

Formation of adverbs

Almost all manner adverbs are formed from their adjective counterparts and end in –ly. They likewise use the same corresponding comparative and superlative forms, as you can see below, ending in –er and –est.


Those ending in –ly add ‘more‘ before to turn to a comparative, and ‘most‘ to form a superlative:

quietlymore quietlymost quietly
slowlymore slowlymost slowly
seriouslymore seriouslymost seriously

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

ill or badlyworseworst

List of adverbs (by type)

Types of adverbexamples
timesoon, now, later, then, tomorrow, today, day after tomorrow, everyday, weekly, annually, quarterly, yearly, yesterday, last month, tonight, last week, immediately.
degreereally, too, very, strongly, highly, incredibly, quite, extremely, remarkably, almost, completely, fully, pretty, unusually.
mannerquickly, carefully, gently, softly, loudly, quickly.
placeeverywhere, inside, outside, above, below, here, away.
frequencyfrequently, never, hardly, usually, seldom, hourly, rarely, sometimes, daily.
reasontherefore, thus, consequently, hence, so, accordingly, because.
affirmative/ negativeclearly, rarely, certainly, hardly, surely.

Interrogative adverbs

When we use adverbs to ask questions, we use them interrogatively (or as interrogative adverbs):

Examples: interrogative adverbs
Where is Sam?

When did you get here?

How many questions did you get right?

In review: adverbs in grammar

Definition: Adverbs are words that modify or adds to the meaning of a verb, adjective or another adverb.

Learn the other parts of speech


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

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