Adverbs in English

Adverbs in English

adverbs in EnglishWe use adverbs in English to describe a verb.

Adverbs in English have different uses.

  • Adverbs of manner describe how something happens;
  • Adverbs of place say where something happens;
  • Adverbs of time say when or how often something happens; and,
  • Adverbs of probability describe how sure we are about something that happens.

Adverbs in English – adverbs of manner

We use adverbs of manner to say how something happens (or how something is done).

For example:

The people at the party were chatting happily.
He ate his lunch quickly so he could get back to work.

Adverbs in English – adverbs of place

We use adverbs of place to say where something happens:

I have arranged to meet her there.
We lived in Tokyo for two years.

Adverbs in English – adverbs of time

We use adverbs of time to say when or how often something happens:

He starts work at 8am.
They usually go to the cinema on Tuesday evenings.

Adverbs in English – adverbs of probability

We use adverbs of probability to show how sure we are about something that happens.

  • Maybe he‘ll call when he finishes work.
  • He is definitely coming for dinner on Saturday.


Forming adverbs in English

A lot of adverbs in English can be formed from the adjective by adding -ly.

For example:

  • hopeful – hopefully
  • definite – definitely
  • complete – completely

Though if the adjective ends in -y, it usually changes to -i.

For example:

  • happy – happily
  • easy – easily
  • pretty – prettily

Adjectives that end in -le change to -ly after a consonant when forming the adverb.

For example:

  • idle – idly
  • able – ably
  • humble – humbly

If the adjective form ends in -ic, in most cases you can add -ally to make the adverb.

For example:

tragic – tragically

periodic – periodically

Note: public – publicly is an exception to this rule.


Irregular adverbs in English

Here is a list of some commonly used adverbs that do not follow the rules above.

adjective adverb
good well – He teaches well. NOT goodly.
fast fast – He drives so fast. NOT fastly.
hard hard – He trains hard three nights a week. NOT hardly.
late late – He arrived late. NOT lately Note: ‘lately’ has a different meaning (recently) e.g. Have you seen her lately?
early early
daily daily
straight straight

Click here to try the adverbs in English exercises.

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