What Is an Adverb? Examples, Definition & List

Adverbs can be used to modify or describe verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and complete sentences. Typically, adverbs end in the suffix “-ly” (e.g., “honestly”), but there are many exceptions to this general pattern. A group of words that function together as an adverb is called an adverbial clause or adverbial phrase.

Adverbs can convey manner (e.g., “loudly”), place (e.g., “here”), time (e.g., “tomorrow”), and degree (e.g., “completely”).

Adverb examples
Your behavior is improving rapidly.

Denise always arrives early.

It’s an extremely hot summer.

I’m genuinely curious.

How are adverbs used in sentences?

Adverbs delineate the manner, timing, location, and degree of an event. They modify not only verbs but also adjectives and other adverbs.

Adverbs modifying verbs, adjectives, and adverbs examples
Elise draws beautifully.

Andrew looks perfectly healthy.

You drove rather recklessly.

A sentence adverb can modify an entire independent clause, expressing an opinion about its content (e.g., “Regrettably, there are no tickets available”). Sentence adverbs are usually set off with commas.

Sentence adverb examples
Fortunately, we can repair the damage.

Andrea missed her flight, sadly.

The QuillBot Grammar Checker can help you make sure you’re using adverbs and other parts of speech correctly.

Adverbs vs adjectives

Whereas an adverb can be used to describe a verb, adverb, adjective, or sentence, an adjective can modify only a noun or pronoun (e.g., “an orange cat”).

Many adverbs are derived from adjectives, with the only difference being an “-ly” ending or one of the variations illustrated in the following table.

How to form adverbs
Original ending Adverbial ending Example
-y -ily (replacing the “y”) lucky; luckily
-le -y (replacing the “e”) reliable; reliably
-ic -ally strategic; strategically

Flat adverbs are spelled exactly like their adjective counterparts (e.g., “late,” “hard,” “low”). There are also adverbs that don’t correspond to any adjective (e.g., “together,” “forward,” “perhaps”).

To determine whether a word is functioning as an adverb or adjective in a given sentence, identify which word it modifies. If the word is used to describe a noun or pronoun, it must be an adjective. If it modifies another part of speech or an entire clause (i.e., a verb, adverb, adjective, or independent clause), it must be an adverb.

In the sentence “We’ll arrive early” the word “early” is an adverb because it modifies the verb “arrive.”

However, in the sentence “You’re early,” the word “early” functions as an adjective because it modifies the pronoun “you.”

Adverbs and linking verbs

Linking verbs, also called copular verbs, describe a state of being or becoming. They connect the subject of a sentence with words that describe it.

Adverbs typically don’t follow linking verbs (e.g. “be,” “seem,” “feel”). In most cases, adjectives should be used instead in this context.

Adverbs and adjectives with linking verbs examples
  • You look nicely in this picture.
  • You look nice in this picture.
  • The soup is badly
  • The soup is bad.

Adverbs of manner

Adverbs of manner describe “how” an action occurs. They typically follow the main verb.

Adverbs of manner examples
Amanda practiced determinedly.

Mark left silently.

Adverbs that describe transitive verbs (which have direct objects) should be placed before the verb or at the end of the sentence. It is important to avoid placing an adverb between the verb and its direct object. In the examples that follow, “the instructions” is the direct object of the transitive verb “gave.”

Adverbs of manner and direct objects examples
  • David gave patiently the instructions.
  • David patiently gave the instructions.
  • David gave the instructions patiently.

Adverbs of degree

An adverb of degree describes the extent or intensity of an action or quality. Adverbs of degree include terms such as “exceedingly,” “totally,” “moderately,” “quite,” and “sufficiently.”

Adverbs of degree examples
Your writing has improved considerably.

You are singing slightly off-key.

Adverbs of place

Adverbs of place describe where an action takes place (e.g., in terms of direction, distance, or position). An adverb of place usually follows the sentence’s main verb.

Adverbs of place examples
Go outside and check the mail.

The treasure is buried deep underground.

Several words used as adverbs of place can also function as prepositions (e.g., “around,” “beyond,” “through”).

When it has an object, it’s considered a preposition (e.g., “Let’s step outside the office”). When it doesn’t have an object, it’s considered an adverb (e.g., “Let’s step outside”).

Adverbs of time

An adverb of time denotes when something occurs (e.g., “last year,” “next Tuesday,” “this evening”). Adverbs of time usually come at the end of a sentence.

Adverbs of time examples
The concert will be performed tonight.

I’ll visit my grandmother tomorrow.

Adverbs of duration express how long something will continue to happen (e.g., “briefly,” “eternally,” “temporarily”).

Adverbs of duration examples
The shop has closed permanently.

Our memories will last forever.

Adverbs of frequency

Adverbs of frequency express how regularly something occurs. There are two kinds of adverbs of frequency that differ in terms of their specificity.

Adverbs of unspecified frequency include words like “regularly,” “occasionally,” and “consistently.” They provide a general sense of how often something happens but don’t indicate when. These adverbs typically occur before the main verb.

Adverbs of indefinite frequency examples
Elizabeth sometimes loses her keys.

I rarely go to bed before midnight.

An adverb of definite frequency describes precisely how often something happens (e.g., “annually,” “nightly”). Adverbs of definite frequency are usually placed at the end of a sentence.

Adverbs of definite frequency examples
We receive our paychecks biweekly.

He exercises daily.

Adverbs of purpose

An adverb of purpose (or adverb of reason) explains why something occurs. Adverbs of purpose frequently also serve as conjunctive adverbs, linking independent clauses.

Adverbial phrases (e.g., “so that,” “in order to”) can also be adverbs of purpose.

Adverbs of purpose examples
We archive historic documents so that the past is not forgotten.

These pearls are natural; hence, they are more expensive than cultured pearls.

Other types of adverbs

There are many types of adverbs, and the following are a few of the most important:

Relative adverbs

A relative adverb introduces a relative clause (or dependent clause), which has a subject and verb but can’t stand alone as a sentence. There are just three relative adverbs: “when,” “where,” and “why.”

Relative adverbs examples
I’m not sure where we will park.

Katie explained why she’s looking for a new roommate.

Conjunctive adverbs

A conjunctive adverb can also be called a linking adverb because it joins two independent clauses, making the second clause function as an adverbial modifier of the first clause. Conjunctive adverbs are transition words that present condition, clarification, contrast, or consequence.

Conjunctive adverbs examples
The new policy improves efficiency; moreover, it aligns with our long-term goals.

Our experiment yielded clear and consistent results; consequently, we concluded that our hypothesis was valid.

Conjunctive adverbs are not to be confused with coordinating conjunctions (e.g., “or,” “but,” “so,” “and”). Whereas coordinating conjunctions can join two clauses, conjunctive adverbs cannot.

Conjunctive adverbs usually occur either at the beginning of a sentence or after a semicolon, and they are set off by commas.

  • We faced many setbacks, nevertheless, we met our deadline.
  • We faced many setbacks. Nevertheless, we met our deadline.
  • We faced many setbacks; nevertheless, we met our deadline.

Focusing adverbs

A focusing adverb highlights the importance of a word or phrase in a sentence. Focusing adverbs typically occur directly beside the word or phrase they emphasize. Examples include “specifically,” “solely,” “mainly,” and “exactly.”

Focusing adverbs examples
You look just like your father, especially when you smile.

I’d prefer either a window seat or an aisle seat.

Interrogative adverbs

Interrogative adverbs include “how,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “to what extent.” They ask questions about place, time, reason, manner, or degree.

Interrogative adverbs examples
Why are you nervous?

How was your weekend?

Adverb list

Below is a short list of the most common types of adverbs along with some examples.

List of adverbs
Adverb type Purpose Examples
Adverbs of manner Express how an action occurs gracefully, carefully, swiftly, patiently, boldly
Adverbs of degree Express the extent to which an action occurs absolutely, barely, extremely, moderately, entirely
Adverbs of place Express where an action occurs here, there, nearby, everywhere, somewhere
Adverbs of time Express when an action occurs soon, then, recently, yesterday, next year
Adverbs of frequency Express how often an action occurs always, seldom, occasionally, regularly, rarely
Adverbs of purpose Express why an action occurs so that, in order to, for the purpose of, with the aim of, lest
Conjunctive adverbs Connect independent clauses furthermore, nevertheless, consequently, however, moreover
Focusing adverbs Emphasize part of a sentence especially, specifically, particularly, only, even
Interrogative adverbs Pose a question when, where, why, how, which
Relative adverbs Introduce an adverbial clause when, where, why

Frequently asked questions about adverbs

What are the different types of adverbs?

Adverbs can be classified in many ways. Depending on context, some adverbs fall into more than one of the categories.

Examples of adverb types include the following:

What is a relative adverb?

A relative adverb is a type of adverb that introduces a dependent clause (i.e., a group of words with a subject and a verb that cannot stand on its own as a sentence).

There are three relative adverbs in English:

  • Where (e.g., “The restaurant where we ate last Friday was really good”)
  • When (e.g., “Do you remember that time when Sonia sang karaoke?”)
  • Why (e.g., “The reason why I was late was traffic”)
Can you end a sentence with an adverb?

Yes, sentences can end with adverbs, which are words that modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs (e.g., “I run slowly”).

Sentences can also end with an adverbial phrase (e.g., “after dinner”) or adverbial clause (e.g., “after she eats lunch”).

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