English Grammar: How to Use Adverbs

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How to Use Adverbs

At a first glance, adverbs seem as very simple elements of grammar. In most of the cases you just need to add –ly to the end of an adjective and you have your adverb ready. While it is very easy to form an adverb, it is not so easy to find a perfect place for an adverb in a sentence. This is where most of the students make mistakes. There are three positions that adverbs can take and we are going to discuss it further.

Adverbs are words that indicate where, when and how something happens. They are also used to modify adjectives, past participles, adverbial phrases and other adverbs. There are many different types of adverbs that perform various functions, such as adverbs of place, time, certainty, manner and connecting adverbs.

Different types of adverbs depending on their purpose and function can take different positions in a clause. An adverb can take a front, middle and end position. However, there is one rule that generally applies to all types of adverbs: do not place an adverb between a verb and its object. Rather place either before the verb and object or after them. For example:

I never drink coffee. (I drink never coffee.)

He draws portraits well. (He draws well portraits.)

Adverbs of the Front Position

There are particular kinds of adverbs that usually take front position in a clause, such as connecting, comment, frequency, certainty adverbs and some adverbs of place and time. Let’s look at them more closely.

Connecting adverbs are used to join one clause to what preceded it. The list includes such words as: then, next, anyway, however, suddenly, etc. For example:

Suddenly somebody screamed.

Anyway I talked to the counselor.

However, he didn’t seem to like the present.

Comment adverbs are those that express the speaker’s opinion of some action or event are usually placed in the front. For example:

Unfortunately, the train was gone.

Surprisingly, he wasn’t angry at all.

Adverbs of indefinite frequency such as usually, normally, sometimes and others also take a front position. For example:

Sometimes I miss my home town.

Usually I drink my tea with milk in it.

Adverbs of certainty like perhaps, maybe, etc. For example:

Perhaps she was held late at work.

Maybe your parents were not at home when you called.

Adverbs of place and time are put in the front position if they are not the main focus of the sentence. For example:

There laid a large book bound in yellow leather.

Today she will leave to Japan.

Afterwards he didn’t know what to say to them.

Adverbs of the End Position

Many of adverbs take the end position in a clause. They include adverbs of manner, place and time. Moreover, if a clause contains all of the above types of adverbs at the same time, then they are placed in according order: manner, place and time. Some of adverbs of indefinite frequency in some cases also take the end position.

Adverbs of manner describe how a particular event or thing happens, occurs or is done. In most of the cases they are formed from adjectives: angrily, happily, beautifully, softly, etc. For example:

He shut the door angrily.

The nanny spoke to the kids softly.

Hold the knife carefully.

Adverbs of place are as a rule placed at the end of a clause, except of the case described before. For example:

Please, put all your notebooks here.

The food was already on the table.

Could you come downstairs?

Adverbs of time and definite frequency have their place at the end of a clause, except for the situation when they are not the main focus of the sentence, as was described before. For example:

Julia goes to the gym every week.

We met each other last year.

Have you tasted Chinese cuisine before?

Adverbs of indefinite frequency are mostly placed in the mid-position, but sometimes they can take the end position, when they are used for emphasis and are the main focus of the message. For example:

I visit my grandmother frequently.

She gets very angry at me sometimes.

He said he could read a book or few occasionally.

Adverbs of the Mid-Position

Adverbs of certainty, completeness and indefinite frequency are often paced in the mid-position in a clause. Other adverbs that sometimes can be put in the mid-position include: some adverbs of manner, comment and focusing adverbs.

To place adverbs correctly it is necessary to understand what exactly the mid-position is and where it is. It is worth to remember that an adverb can never be put between a verb and its object. When an adverb is placed in the middle of a clause then it can be:

  1. Before one-part verbs. E.g.: I always exercise in the morning.
  2. After an auxiliary verbs. E.g.: We have never separated for so long.
  3. After am/are/is/was/were. E.g.: They were definitely late.

Adverbs of indefinite frequency very often find themselves in the middle of a clause. For example:

They rarely spoke to each other.

He has occasionally drunk a little bit of beer.

His hair was never combed.

Adverbs of certainty such as clearly, obviously, definitely, and others are placed in the mid-position. For example:

He definitely liked your new dress.

She was clearly satisfied with the present.

Adverbs of completeness include such words as: completely, almost, rather, hardly, quite, etc. For example:

I have completely ruined the cake.

The muffins were almost done when the guests arrived.

Comment adverbs are those that express the speaker’s opinion on a certain matter. As a rule they go in the front position, but sometimes can be placed in the middle as well. For example:

He has stupidly forgotten her name.

Focusing adverbs guide the attention to certain part of a clause. They include such words as: just, only, mainly, even, neither … nor, etc. For example:

Your car just needs a little bit of fresh paint.

The dishes at the table were mainly vegetarian.

Adverbs of manner most often take the end position in a clause, but in some cases, when the adverb is not the main focus, they can be placed in the middle of a clause. For example:

He angrily crumbled up the letter from her.

They have suddenly discovered some old box in the attic.

Edit Your Essay Online

From the above information you probably came to a conclusion that adverbs are easy to form, but not so easy to use. It can be confusing where to place an adverb. And when you look for a proper place for an adverb consider such factors as: the type of an adverb, its purpose and the focus of the sentence. In composition of your essays or other academic papers you can fully rely on our editors. They will make sure all your adverbs are at their right places. You can place an order at any convenient time for you and your editing will be done promptly. Moreover, if you need some writing topics ideas, you can discover some by reading our free samples of essays.

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