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English Grammar Notes: Adverbs | The Complete Lesson

What is an Adverb?

An adverb is a word that is used to change or qualify the meaning of an adjective, a verb, a clause, another adverb, or any other type of word or phrase with the exception of determiners and adjectives that directly modify nouns.

Traditionally considered to be a single part of speech, adverbs perform a wide variety of functions, which makes it difficult to treat them as a single, unified category. Adverbs normally carry out these functions by answering questions such as:

  • When? She alwaysarrives early.
  • How? He drives carefully.
  • Where? They go everywheretogether.
  • In what way? She eatsslowly.
  • To what extent? It is terriblyhot.

This is called adverbial function and may be accomplished by adverbial clauses and adverbial phrases as well as by adverbs that stand alone.

There are many rules for using adverbs, and these rules often depend upon which type of adverb you are using. Remember these basics, and using adverbs to make sentences more meaningful will be easier for you.

  • Adverbs can always be used to modify verbs. Notice that the second of these two sentences is much more interesting simply because it contains an adverb:
  • The dog ran. (You can picture a dog running, but you don’t really know much more about the scene.)
  • The dog ran excitedly. (You can picture a dog running, wagging its tail, panting happily, and looking glad to see its owner. You can paint a much more interesting picture in your head when you know how or why the dog is running.)
  • Adverbs are often formed by adding the letters “-ly” to adjectives. This makes is very easy to identify adverbs in sentences. There are many exceptions to this rule; everywhere, nowhere,and upstairsare a few examples.
  • An adverb can be used to modify an adjective and intensify the meaning it conveys. For example:
  • He plays tennis well. (He knows how to play tennis and sometimes he wins.)
  • He plays tennis extremely well. (He knows how to play tennis so well that he wins often.)

As you read the following adverb examples, you’ll notice how these useful words modify other words and phrases by providing information about the place, time, manner, certainty, frequency, or other circumstances of activity denoted by the verbs or verb phrases in the sentences.

Examples of Adverbs

As you read each of the following adverb examples, note that the adverbs have been italicized for easy identification. Consider how replacing the existing adverbs with different ones would change the meaning of each sentence.

  1. She was walking rapidly.
  2. The kids love playing togetherin the sandbox.
  3. Please come inside now.
  4. His jokes are always veryfunny.
  5. You don’t reallycare, do you?

What is an adverb clause?

An adverb clause is a group of words that is used to change or qualify the meaning of an adjective, a verb, a clause, another adverb, or any other type of word or phrase with the exception of determiners and adjectives that directly modify nouns.

Adverb clauses always meet three requirements:

  • First, an adverb clause always contains a subject and a verb.
  • Second, adverb clauses contain subordinate conjunctions that prevent them from containing complete thoughts and becoming full sentences.
  • Third, all adverb clauses answer one of the classic “adverb questions:” When? Why? How? Where?

Examples of Adverb Clauses

As you read the following adverb clause examples, you’ll notice how these useful phrases modify other words and phrases by providing interesting information about the place, time, manner, certainty, frequency, or other circumstances of activity denoted by the verbs or verb phrases in the sentences. While adverb clauses are slightly more complicated than simple adverbs, they are worth learning about.

The adverb clauses in these examples are italicized for easy identification.

  1. Jennifer scrubbed the bathtub until her arms ached. (This adverb clause describes how Jennifer scrubbed.)
  2. The dogs started chasing my car once they saw it turn the corner. (This adverb clause describes when the dogs started chasing my car.)
  3. After having my wisdom teeth out, I had a milkshake for dinner because I couldn’t chew anything. (This adverb clause describes why I had a milkshake for dinner.)

Types of Adverbs

There are many types of adverbs, such as:

  1. Adverbs of Frequency – always, sometimes, never, once a week, hourly, etc.
  2. Adverbs of Manner – carefully, slowly, loudly
  3. Adverbs of Time – tomorrow, now, this year, next week, soon, then
  4. Adverbs of Place/Location – here, there, above, everywhere
  5. Adverbs of Degree – very, extremely, rather, almost, nearly, too, quite
  6. Adverbs of Quantity – a few, a lot, much
  7. Adverbs of Attitude – fortunately, apparently, clearly
  8. Relative Adverbs
  9. Interrogative Adverbs

Adverbs of Frequency

These are called adverbs of frequency and include:

Frequency Adverb of Frequency Example Sentence
100% always always go to bed before 11 p.m.
90% usually usually have cereal for breakfast.
80% normally / generally normally go to the gym.
70% often* / frequently often surf the internet.
50% sometimes sometimes forget my wife’s birthday.
30% occasionally occasionally eat junk food.
10% seldom seldom read the newspaper.
5% hardly ever / rarely hardly ever drink alcohol.
0% never never swim in the sea.

* Some people pronounce the ‘T’ in often but many others do not.

These are also known as Adverbs of INDEFINITE frequency as the exact frequency is not defined.

The Position of the Adverb in a Sentence

An adverb of frequency goes before a main verb (except with To Be).

Subject + adverb + main verb
always remember to do my homework.
He normally gets good marks in exams.

An adverb of frequency goes after the verb To Be.

Subject + to be + adverb
They are never pleased to see me.
She isn’t usually bad tempered.

When we use an auxiliary verb (have, will, must, might, could, would, can, etc.), the adverb is placed between the auxiliary and the main verb. This is also true for to be.

Subject + auxiliary + adverb + main verb
She can sometimes beat me in a race.
would hardly ever be unkind to someone.
They might never see each other again.
They could occasionally be heard laughing.

We can also use the following adverbs at the start of a sentence:

Usually, normally, often, frequently, sometimes, occasionally

  • Occasionally, I like to eat Thai food.

BUT we cannot use the following at the beginning of a sentence:

Always, seldom, rarely, hardly, ever, never.

We use hardly ever and never with positive, not negative verbs:

  • She hardly ever comes to my parties.
  • They never say ‘thank you’.

We use ever in questions and negative statements:

  • Have you ever been to New Zealand?
  • I haven’t ever been to Switzerland. (The same as ‘I have never been Switzerland’).

Adverbs of Definite Frequency

We can also use the following expressions when we want to be more specific about the frequency:

  • every day
  • once a month
  • twice a year
  • four times a day
  • every other week
  • daily
  • monthly

These are also known as Adverbs of DEFINITE frequency as the exact frequency is specified.

Adverb Of Place

Adverbs of place tell us where something happens. Adverbs of place are usually placed after the main verb or after the clause that they modify. Adverbs of place do not modify adjectives or other adverbs. Some examples of adverbs of place: here, everywhere, outside, away, around

Examples

  • John looked around but he couldn’t see the monkey.
  • I searched everywhere I could think of.
  • I’m going back to school.
  • Come in!
  • They built a house nearby.
  • She took the child outside.

HERE AND THERE

Here and there are common adverbs of place. They give a location relative to the speaker. With verbs of movement, here means “towards or with the speaker” and there means “away from, or not with the speaker”.

Sentence Meaning
Come here! Come towards me.
The table is in here. Come with me; we will go see it together.
Put it there. Put it in a place away from me.
The table is in there. Go in; you can see it by yourself.

Here and there are combined with prepositions to make many common adverbial phrases.

Examples

  • What are you doing up there?
  • Come over here and look at what I found!
  • The baby is hiding down there under the table.
  • I wonder how my driver’s license got stuck under here.

Here and there are placed at the beginning of the sentence in exclamations or when emphasis is needed. They are followed by the verb if the subject is a noun or by a pronoun if the subject is a pronoun.

Examples

  • Here comes the bus!
  • There goes the bell!
  • There it is!
  • Here they are!

Adverb Of Place That Are Also Prepositions

Many adverbs of place can also be used as prepositions. When used as prepositions, they must be followed by a noun.

Word Used as an adverb of place, modifying a verb Used as a preposition
around The marble rolled around in my hand. I am wearing a necklace around my neck.
behind Hurry! You are getting behind. Let’s hide behind the shed.
down Mary fell down. John made his way carefully down the cliff.
in We decided to drop in on Jake. I dropped the letter in the mailbox.
off Let’s get off at the next stop. The wind blew the flowers off the tree.
on We rode on for several more hours. Please put the books on the table.
over He turned over and went back to sleep. I think I will hang the picture over my bed.

Adverb of Place Ending In -Where

Adverbs of place that end in -where express the idea of location without specifying a specific location or direction.

EXAMPLES
  • I would like to go somewhere warm for my vacation.
  • Is there anywhere I can find a perfect plate of spaghetti around here?
  • I have nowhere to go.
  • I keep running in to Sally everywhere!

Adverb Of Place Ending In -Wards

Adverbs of place that end in -wards express movement in a particular direction.

Examples

  • Cats don’t usually walk backwards.
  • The ship sailed westwards.
  • The balloon drifted upwards.
  • We will keep walking homewards until we arrive.

Be careful: Towards is a preposition, not an adverb, so it is always followed by a noun or a pronoun.

Examples

  • He walked towards the car.
  • She ran towards me.

Adverb of Place Expressing Both Movement & Location

Some adverbs of place express both movement & location at the same time.

Examples

  • The child went indoors.
  • He lived and worked abroad.
  • Water always flows downhill.
  • The wind pushed us sideways.

Adverbs Of Time

Adverbs of time tell us when an action happened, but also for how long, and how often. Adverbs of time are invariable. They are extremely common in English. Adverbs of time have standard positions in a sentence depending on what the adverb of time is telling us.

Adverbs That Tell Us When

Adverbs that tell us when are usually placed at the end of the sentence.

Examples

  • Goldilocks went to the Bears’ house yesterday.
  • I’m going to tidy my room tomorrow.
  • I saw Sally today.
  • I will call you later.
  • I have to leave now.
  • I saw that movie last year.

Putting an adverb that tells us when at the end of a sentence is a neutral position, but these adverbs can be put in other positions to give a different emphasis. All adverbs that tell us when can be placed at the beginning of the sentence to emphasize the time element. Some can also be put before the main verb in formal writing, while others cannot occupy that position.

Examples

  • Later Goldilocks ate some porridge. (the time is important)
  • Goldilocks later ate some porridge. (this is more formal, like a policeman’s report)
  • Goldilocks ate some porridge later. (this is neutral, no particular emphasis)

Adverbs That Tell Us For How Long

Adverbs that tell us for how long are also usually placed at the end of the sentence.

Examples

  • She stayed in the Bears’ house all day.
  • My mother lived in France for a year.
  • I have been going to this school since 1996.

In these adverbial phrases that tell us for how long, for is always followed by an expression of duration, while since is always followed by an expression of a point in time.

Examples

  • I stayed in Switzerland for three days.
  • I am going on vacation for a week.
  • I have been riding horses for several years.
  • The French monarchy lasted for several centuries.
  • I have not seen you since Monday.
  • Jim has been working here since 1997.
  • There has not been a more exciting discovery since last century.

Adverbs That Tell Us How Often

Adverbs that tell us how often express the frequency of an action. They are usually placed before the main verb but after auxiliary verbs (such as be, have, may, & must). The only exception is when the main verb is “to be”, in which case the adverb goes after the main verb.

Examples

  • often eat vegetarian food.
  • He never drinks milk.
  • You must always fasten your seat belt.
  • I am seldom late.
  • He rarely lies.

Many adverbs that express frequency can also be placed at either the beginning or the end of the sentence, although some cannot be. When they are placed in these alternate positions, the meaning of the adverb is much stronger.

Adverb that can be used in two positions Stronger position Weaker position
frequently I visit France frequently. frequently visit France.
generally Generally, I don’t like spicy foods. generally don’t like spicy foods.
normally I listen to classical music normally. normally listen to classical music.
occasionally I go to the opera occasionally. occasionally go to the opera.
often Often, I jog in the morning. often jog in the morning.
regularly I come to this museum regularly. regularly come to this museum.
sometimes I get up very early sometimes. sometimes get up very early.
usually I enjoy being with children usually. usually enjoy being with children.

Some other adverbs that tell us how often express the exact number of times an action happens or happened. These adverbs are usually placed at the end of the sentence.

Examples

  • This magazine is published monthly.
  • He visits his mother once a week.
  • I work five days a week.
  • I saw the movie seven times.

Using Yet

Yet is used in questions and in negative sentences to indicate that something that has not happened or may not have happened but is expected to happen. It is placed at the end of the sentence or after not.

Examples

  • Have you finished your work yet? (= simple request for information)
  • No, not yet. (= simple negative answer)
  • They haven’t met him yet. (= simple negative statement)
  • Haven’t you finished yet? (= expressing surprise)

Using Still

Still expresses continuity. In positive sentences it is placed before the main verb and after auxiliary verbs such as be, have, might, will. If the main verb is to be, then place still after it rather than before. In questions, still goes before the main verb.

Examples

  • She is still waiting for you.
  • Jim might still want some.
  • Do you still work for the BBC?
  • Are you still here?
  • I am still hungry.

Order OF Adverbs Of Time

If you need to use more than one adverb of time in a sentence, use them in this order:

1: how long 2: how often 3: when

Examples

  • 1 + 2 : I work (1) for five hours (2) every day
  • 2 + 3 : The magazine was published (2) weekly (3) last year.
  • 1 + 3 : I was abroad (1) for two months (3) last year.
  • 1 + 2 + 3 : She worked in a hospital (1) for two days (2) every week (3) last year.

Adverbs Of Manner

Adverbs of manner tell us how something happens. They are usually placed either after the main verb or after the object.

Examples

  • He swims well.
  • He ran quickly.
  • She spoke softly.
  • James coughed loudly to attract her attention.
  • He plays the flute beautifully. (after the direct object)
  • He ate the chocolate cake greedily. (after the direct object)

An adverb of manner cannot be put between a verb and its direct object. The adverb must be placed either before the verb or at the end of the clause.

Examples

  • He ate greedily the chocolate cake. [incorrect]
  • He ate the chocolate cake greedily[correct]
  • He greedily ate the chocolate cake. [correct]
  • He gave us generously the money. [incorrect]
  • He gave us the money generously[correct]
  • He generously gave us the money. [correct]

If there is a preposition before the verb’s object, you can place the adverb of manner either before the preposition or after the object.

Examples

  • The child ran happily towards his mother.
  • The child ran towards his mother happily.

Adverbs of manner should always come immediately after verbs which have no object (intransitive verbs).

Examples

  • The town grew quickly after 1997.
  • He waited patiently for his mother to arrive.

These common adverbs of manner are almost always placed directly after the verb: well, badly, hard, & fast

Examples

  • He swam well despite being tired.
  • The rain fell hard during the storm.

The position of the adverb is important when there is more than one verb in a sentence. If the adverb is placed before or after the main verb, it modifies only that verb. If the adverb is placed after a clause, then it modifies the whole action described by the clause. Notice the difference in meaning between the following sentences.

Example Meaning
She quickly agreed to re-type the letter. the agreement is quick
She agreed quickly to re-type the letter. the agreement is quick
She agreed to re-type the letter quickly. the re-typing is quick
He quietly asked me to leave the house. the request is quiet
He asked me quietly to leave the house. the request is quiet
He asked me to leave the house quietly. the leaving is quiet

Sometimes an adverb of manner is placed before a verb + object to add emphasis.

Examples

  • He gently woke the sleeping woman.
  • She angrily slammed the door.

Some writers put an adverb of manner at the beginning of the sentence to catch our attention and make us curious.

Examples

  • Slowly she picked up the knife.
  • Roughly he grabbed her arm.

Adverbs Of Degree

Adverbs of degree tell us about the intensity of something. Adverbs of degree are usually placed before the adjective, adverb, or verb that they modify, although there are some exceptions. The words “too”, “enough”, “very”, and “extremely” are examples of adverbs of degree.

Adverb of degree Modifying Example
extremely adjective The water was extremely cold.
quite adjective The movie is quite interesting.
just verb He was just leaving.
almost verb She has almost finished.
very adverb She is running very fast.
too adverb You are walking too slowly.
enough adverb You are running fast enough.

USAGE OF “ENOUGH”

Enough can be used as both an adverb and as a determiner.

ENOUGH AS AN ADVERB

Enough as an adverb meaning ‘to the necessary degree’ goes after the adjective or adverb that it is modifying, and not before it as other adverbs do. It can be used both in positive and negative sentences.

Examples

  • Is your coffee hot enough?
  • This box isn’t big enough.
  • He didn’t work hard enough.
  • I got here early enough.

Enough is often followed by “to” + the infinitive.

Examples

  • He didn’t work hard enough to pass the exam.
  • Is your coffee hot enough to drink?
  • She’s not old enough to get married.
  • I got here early enough to sign up.

Enough can also be followed by “for someone” or “for something”.

Examples

  • The dress was big enough for me.
  • She’s not experienced enough for this job.
  • Is the coffee hot enough for you?
  • He didn’t work hard enough for a promotion.

ENOUGH AS A DETERMINER

Enough as a determiner meaning ‘as much/many as necessary’ goes before the noun it modifies. It is used with countable nouns in the plural and with uncountable nouns.

Examples

  • We have enough bread.
  • You have enough children.
  • They don’t have enough food.
  • I don’t have enough apples.

USAGE OF “TOO”

“Too” is always an adverb, but it has two distinct meanings, each with its own usage patterns.

TOO MEANING “ALSO”

Too as an adverb meaning “also” goes at the end of the phrase it modifies.

Examples

  • I would like to go swimming too, if you will let me come.
  • Can I go to the zoo too?
  • Is this gift for me too?
  • I’m not going to clean your room too!

TOO MEANING “EXCESSIVELY”

Too as an adverb meaning “excessively” goes before the adjective or adverb it modifies. It can be used in both affirmative and negative sentences.

Examples

  • This coffee is too hot.
  • He works too hard.
  • Isn’t she too young?
  • I am not too short!

Too is often followed by “to” + the infinitive.

Examples

  • The coffee was too hot to drink.
  • You’re too young to have grandchildren!
  • I am not too tired to go out tonight.
  • Don’t you work too hard to have any free time?

Too can also be followed by “for someone” or “for something”.

Examples

  • The coffee was too hot for me.
  • The dress was too small for her.
  • He’s not too old for this job.
  • Sally’s not too slow for our team.

USAGE OF “VERY”

Very goes before an adverb or adjective to make it stronger.

Examples

  • The girl was very beautiful.
  • The house is very expensive.
  • He worked very quickly.
  • She runs very fast.

If we want to make a negative form of an adjective or adverb, we can add “not” to the verb, we can use an adjective or adverb of opposite meaning, or we can use “not very” with the original adjective or adverb. The meanings of the phrases are not identical. Usually the phrase using “not very” is less direct, and thus more polite, than the other phrases.

Examples

Original phrase Opposite meaning with “not” Opposite meaning with “not very” Opposite meaning with an opposite word
The girl was beautiful. The girl was not beautiful. The girl was not very beautiful. The girl was ugly.
He worked quickly. He did not work quickly. He did not work very quickly. He worked slowly.

DIFFERENCE IN MEANING BETWEEN “VERY” AND “TOO”

There is a big difference in meaning between “too” and “very”. “Very” expresses a fact while “too” suggests there is a problem.

Examples

  • He speaks very quickly.
  • He speaks too quickly for me to understand.
  • It is very hot outside.
  • It is too hot outside to go for a walk.

OTHER ADVERBS USED LIKE “VERY”

Some common adverbs are used in the same way as “very” to heighten the degree of adjectives and adverbs.

Expressing very strong feelings Expressing strong feelings Expressing somewhat doubtful feelings
extremely, terribly, amazingly, wonderfully, insanely especially, particularly, uncommonly, unusually, remarkably, quite pretty, rather, fairly, not especially, not particularly
The movie was amazingly interesting. The movie was particularly interesting. The movie was fairly interesting.
She sang wonderfully well. She sang unusually well. She sang pretty well.
The lecture was terribly boring. The lecture was quite boring. The lecture was rather boring.

INVERSION WITH NEGATIVE ADVERBS

Normally the subject goes before the verb, however, some negative adverbs can cause an inversion when placed at the beginning of the clause. The order is reversed and the verb goes before the subject. This inversion is only used in writing, not in speaking.

Adverb Normal word order Inversion
Never I have never seen such courage. Never have I seen such courage.
Rarely She rarely left the house. Rarely did she leave the house.
Not only She did not only the cooking but the cleaning as well. Not only did she do the cooking, but the cleaning as well.
Scarcely I scarcely closed the door before he started talking. Scarcely did I close the door before he started talking.
Seldom We seldom cross the river after sunset. Seldom do we cross the river sunset.

Adverbs Of Certainty

Adverbs of certainty express how certain we feel about an action or event. Adverbs of certainty go before the main verb unless the main verb is ‘to be’, in which case the adverb of certainty goes after.

Examples

  • He definitely left the house this morning.
  • He surely won’t forget.
  • He is probably in the park.
  • He is certainly a smart man.

If there is an auxiliary verb, the adverb of certainty goes between the auxiliary and the main verb.

Examples

  • He has certainly forgotten the meeting.
  • He will probably remember tomorrow.
  • He is definitely running late.

Sometimes these adverbs of certainty can be placed at the beginning of the sentence.

Examples

  • Undoubtedly, Winston Churchill was a great politician.
  • Certainly, I will be there.
  • Probably, he has forgotten the meeting.

When the adverb of certainty surely is placed at the beginning of the sentence, it means the speaker thinks something is true, but is looking for confirmation.

Examples

  • Surely you’ve got a bicycle.
  • Surely you’re not going to wear that to the party.

Relative Adverbs

The relative adverbs where, when & why can be used to join sentences or clauses. They replace the more formal structure of preposition + which used to introduce a relative clause.

Formal structure, preposition + which More common stucture using a relative adverb
That’s the restaurant in which we met for the first time. That’s the restaurant where we met for the first time.
That picture was taken in the park at which I used to play. That picture was taken in the park where I used to play.
I remember the day on which we first met. I remember the day when we first met.
There was a very hot summer the year in which he was born. There was a very hot summer the year when he was born.
Tell me the reason for which you came home late. Tell me (the reason) why you came home late.
Do you want to know the reason for which he is angry with Sally? Do you want to know (the reason) why he is angry with Sally?

Interrogative Adverbs

The interrogative adverbs why, where, how, & when are placed at the beginning of a question. These questions can be answered with a sentence or a prepositional phrase. After an interrogative adverb in a question, you must invert the subject and verb so that the verb comes first.

Examples

  • Why are you so late? There was a lot of traffic.
  • Where is my passport? In the drawer.
  • How are you? I’m fine.
  • When does the train arrive? At 11:15.

USES OF HOW

HOW MUCH …? – (Quantity)

How much is used with uncountable nouns.

HOW MUCH + UNCOUNTABLE NOUN

  • How much time do we have to finish the test?
  • How much money did you spend?
  • How much sugar would you like in your coffee?
  • How much paper will I need?
  • How much milk is in the fridge?
  • How much traffic was there on the way to work?

If the verb To Be is used with an uncountable noun, it is in singular form (= IS or WAS etc.)

HOW MUCH …? – (Price)

How much can also be used when we want to know the PRICE of something.

In this case, we can use How much with countable nouns (both singular and plural nouns).

  • How much is that painting?
  • How much are those shoes?
  • How much did your jacket cost?
  • How much is the dress on display in the window?
  • How much will it cost me?
  • How much does it cost ?

HOW MANY …? – (Quantity)

How many is used when we want to know the QUANTITY of something.

It is only used with plural countable nouns.

HOW MANY + PLURAL NOUN

  • How many days are there in January?
  • How many people work in your company?
  • How many cousins do you have?
  • How many books did you buy?
  • How many countries are there in the world?
  • How many students are in the class right now?
  • How many chairs are there in this room?
  • How many pieces of chocolate would you like?

Omitting the noun

Often the noun is omitted in the question when it is obvious what we are talking about.

A: I would like to buy some cheese. B: How much (cheese) would you like?

The noun cheese is not necessary after how much since we already know we are talking about cheese. In fact, it is normally omitted to avoid sounding repetitive.

More examples:

  • A: I need some coins. – B: How many do you need?
  • A: I need some sugar. – B: How much do you need?

How can be used to form questions in four different ways. How can be used by itself to mean “in what way”.

Examples

  • How did you make this sauce?
  • How do you start the car?
  • How can I get to your house?

How can be used with adjectives to ask about the degree of an attribute.

Examples

  • How tall are you?
  • How old is your house?
  • How angry is mother?

How can be used with much and many to ask about quantity. Much is used with uncountable nouns and many is used with countable nouns.

Examples

  • How many people are coming to the party?
  • How much flour do I need?
  • How much are these tomatoes?

How can be used with other adverbs to ask about the frequency or degree of an action.

Examples

  • How quickly can you read this?
  • How often do you go to London?
  • How loudly does your brother scream?

Viewpoint and Commenting Adverbs

There are some adverbs and adverbial expressions which tell us about the speaker’s viewpoint or opinion about an action, or make some comment on the action. These adverbs are different from other adverbs because they do not tell us how an action occurred. Commenting and viewpoint adverbs modify entire clauses rather than single verbs, adverbs, or adjectives. There is no real distinction between commenting adverbs and viewpoint adverbs, except in their sentence placement. Many adverbs that can be used as viewpoint adverbs can also be used as commenting adverbs. However, in some cases, an adverb is far more common as one or the other.

SENTENCE PLACEMENT

Viewpoint adverbs are placed at the beginning, or more rarely, at the end of the sentence. They are usually separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma. Commenting adverbs are placed before the main verb unless the verb “to be” is used, in which case placement can be either before or after the verb. In some cases, commenting adverbs placed before the main verb will also be separated from the rest of the sentence by commas, although in most cases they will not be. In the examples below, viewpoint and commenting adverbs are shown in the correct sentence placements. When a sentence placement is unusual, stilted, or too formal for spoken language, it is marked with an asterisk.

Viewpoint or commenting adverb At the start of a sentence Before the main verb At the end of a sentence
clearly Clearly, he doesn’t know what he is doing. He clearly doesn’t know what he is doing. He doesn’t know what he is doing, clearly.
obviously Obviously, you are acting silly. You are obviously acting silly You are acting silly, obviously.
personally Personally, I’d rather go by train. I’d personally rather go by train. I’d rather go by train, personally.
presumably Presumably, he didn’t have time to go to the post office. He presumably didn’t have time to go to the post office. He didn’t have time to go to the post office, presumably.
seriously Seriously, I can’t give this speech. seriously can’t give this speech. I can’t give this speech, seriously.
surely Surely you tried to get here on time. You surely tried to get here on time. You tried to get here on time, surely.
technically Technically, we cannot fly to Mars and back. We technically cannot fly to Mars and back. We cannot fly to Mars and back, technically.
undoubtedly Undoubtedly, he has a good reason not to come. He undoubtedly has a good reason not to come. He has a good reason not to come, undoubtedly.
bravely Bravely, I kept on walking. bravely kept on walking. *I kept on walking, bravely.
carelessly Carelessly, she threw her book into the pond. She carelessly threw her book into the pond. *She threw her book into the pond, carelessly.
certainly Certainly you should be there. You certainly should be there. / You should certainlybe there. You should be there, certainly.
cleverly Cleverly, Sally hid the jellybeans. Sally cleverly hid the jellybeans. *Sally hid the jellybeans, cleverly.
definitely *Definitely, you are smart. You defintely are smart. / You are definitely smart. *You are smart, definitely.
foolishly Foolishly, they cried out. They foolishly cried out. They cried out, foolishly.
generously Generously, he donated the money. He generously donated the money. *He donated the money, generously.
stupidly Stupidly, they played in the street. They stupidly played in the street. *They played in the street, stupidly.
obviously Obviously, we are lost. We are obviously lost. / *We obviously are lost. We are lost, obviously.
kindly Kindly, she fed the cat first. She kindly fed the cat first. She fed the cat first, kindly.
luckily Luckily, you got here on time. You luckily got here on time. You got here on time, luckily.
fortunately Fortunately, we found the boat. We fortunately found the boat. We found the boat,fortunately.
naturally Naturally, you cannot be in the circus now. You naturally cannot be in the circus now. You cannot be in the circus now, naturally.
wisely Wisely, she stayed home to take a nap. She wisely stayed home to take a nap. She stayed home to take a nap, wisely.
confidentially Confidentially, I never gave him the envelope. I never gave him the envelope, confidentially.
theoretically Theoretically, we could send astronauts to Mars. We could theoretically send astronauts to Mars. / We theoretically could send astronauts to Mars. We could send astronauts to Mars, theoretically.
truthfully Truthfully, I don’t like chocolate much. truthfully don’t like chocolate much. I don’t like chocolate much, truthfully.
disappointingly Disappointingly, she got fourth place. She disappointingly got fourth place. She got fourth place, disappointingly.
thoughtfully Thoughtfully, I turned away. thoughtfully turned away. I turned away, thoughtfully.
simply *Simply, I don’t want to come. simply don’t want to come.
unbelievably Unbelievably, she showed up late again. She unbelievably showed up late again. She showed up late again, unbelievably.
unfortunately Unfortunately, there is no more room. There is unfortunately no more room. / There unfortunately is no more room. There is no more room, unfortunately.

Very – Too – Enough

Very and Too + adjective

1. The exam is very difficult, but Jim can complete it.

2. The exam is too difficult. Jim can’t complete it.

Very difficult = it is difficult but possible for Jim to complete the exam.

Too difficult = It is impossible for Jim to complete the exam.

Remember that Too implies a negative result.

Too + adjective + infinitive

  • Alex couldn’t play basketball because he was too short.
  • Alex was too short to play basketball.
  • We are too tired to go to the gym.
  • Mary was too ill to finish her food.

Too + adjective + for (someone) + infinitive

  • I can’t walk to Valparaiso because it is too far.
  • Valparaiso is too far for me to walk.
  • It is too late for me to go out.
  • The soup is too cold for Tim to eat.
  • The price of the ticket is too expensive for Mike to fly to Europe.

Enough + noun

Enough (pronounced “enuff”)

Enough = sufficient

  • There was enough food for everybody at the party.
  • I had enough money to pay for dinner with my girlfriend.
  • Is there enough time to finish the test?

Adjective + Enough

  • She is pretty enough for everybody to notice her. (Everybody notices her because she is very pretty.)
  • My friend lives close enough to my house to walk.
  • Last summer it was hot enough to go swimming every day.

Enough + infinitive

  • When she lost her dog, it was enough to make her cry.
  • He was sick enough to stay home from work today.
  • I arrived at the airport early enough to make my flight to New York.

Still – Yet – Already

Three adverbs that often cause difficulty are stillyet, and already.
They are all used when actions are going to happen, or are expected to happen, or were unexpected around the present time. Here we go into more detail about the difference between stillyet and already:

STILL

Still is used to say an action or situation continues to the present because it has not finished.
It often refers to something happening for longer than expected.

Notice the position of still before the verb or adjective.

  • My grandfather is sixty-nine and he still works every day at the kiosk he owns.
  • Do you still live with your parents?
  • It’s 8pm, and I can’t leave the office because I still have work to do.
  • Are you still angry with your partner?
  • He is still asleep so don’t wake him up.

If the verb has two parts, still goes between both the verbs:

  • She started her exam an hour ago and she is still answering the questions.
  • Is it still snowing? (= it continues to snow, it hasn’t stopped)
  • When I went to bed, Angelica was still working.

But if one of the two verbs is negative, still goes before that negative verb:

  • Lucy has stopped smoking but her brother still hasn’t quit.
  • I took the clock to the repair shop though it still isn’t working.

YET

Yet refers to an action that is expected in the future. It is not used in the past.

To ask if something expected has happened. It is usually placed at the end of the sentence or question.

  • Are we there yet? (A typical question kids ask while taking car trips with their parents)
  • Is the report ready yet?
  • Hasn’t your mother told you yet? We’re moving to Alaska!

To say that something expected hasn’t happened:

  • Mary can’t go home yet, she hasn’t finished her work.
  • They haven’t paid me yet. (I was expecting to paid before now.)
  • My parents haven’t kicked me out of their house yet.

Yet is occasionally used in affirmative sentences, giving the sentences a similar meaning as the use of still. Note that this is more formal and not common.

  • We have yet to hear the big news from Aunt Martha.
    = We are still waiting to hear the big news from Aunt Martha.

Often, we use still and yet together to explain why an action is continuing.

  • I am still studying at the university because I haven’t graduated yet.
  • We still don’t know who will be our new boss. The owners haven’t told us yet.
  • I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to quit my job to go travel. I’m still thinking about it.

ALREADY

Already is used to refer to an action that happened sooner than expected.
It is used in affirmative sentences in the present or past, but never future.

  • A: Ask Katie to send the article to her editor. B: She has already sent it.
  • already know what I’m going to buy you for your birthday.
  • They’ve already seen “Spiderman 15” and really don’t want to see it again.

Notice the placement of already in the examples below:

  • Is Mary already here? She must have driven very fast to get here before me.
  • How does he already have the answers to tomorrow’s test?
  • Have they already obtained their visas?

In present tense sentences, it is placed between the subject and verb.
In present and present perfect questions, it comes immediately after the subject.
However, in present perfect sentences, the order is subject + have+ already + past participle.

So vs Such

The following rules explain the difference between So and Such in English.

So … that, Such … that

We use so … that, such … that:

a) to show a fact (usually with a result or consequence)

  • Pamela Ander’s feet are big.
    (Expresses a fact).
  • Pamela Ander’s feet are so big that she can’t find shoes her size.
    (Emphasizes that you feel strongly about the size of her feet).

b) to show extreme feelings or an opinion about something

  • George Bushoff is an idiot.
    (Merely a statement of fact/opinion).
  • George Bushoff is such an idiot that he doesn’t even know the capital of his own country.
    (Emphasizes the speaker’s opinion of the intensity of George Bushoff’s idiocy).

SO with adjectives and adverbs

so + adjective/adverb + that + result

  • The teacher speaks so clearly that everyone can understand her.
  • The sun was so strong that they got burned within 15 minutes.

SUCH + Nouns

such + a + (adjective) + singular noun + that + result
(It is common to put an adjective before the noun)

  • He is such a tight person that he even reuses his servillettes.
  • Christopher is such a handsome man that all the ladies want him.
  • She had such a long speech that everyone stopped paying attention to her.

such + plural/uncountable noun + that + result

  • She has such big feet that she has to buy special shoes.
  • Woodward Restaurant has such good food that it’s always full of people.

SO / SUCH in exclamations

In exclamations we drop the word ‘that’ and use:

i) such + noun (singular/plural)
ii) so + adjective

  • You are such an idiot! (noun)
  • Celebrities have such weird tastes! (noun)
  • You are so stupid! (adjective)
  • It’s so sunny outside! (adjective)

Such-and-such

This is used to talk about a particular type of person or thing that doesn’t need to be specified. It is an unstated generic placeholder.

  • People from such-and-such areas tend to be wealthy.
  • If you do such-and-such a job, you will become famous.

Much – Many – Lot – Few – Little

A lot of vs. Lots of

A lot of and lots of are used to express that there is a large quantity of something.

We use a lot of in positive sentences, negative sentences and questions. This expression can be used with countable or uncountable nouns.

  • There are a lot of dogs in the street. (Countable noun)
  • I have a lot of time to answer your questions. (Uncountable noun)
  • I saw a lot of people waiting in the queue. (Countable)
  • We did have a lot of fun, didn’t we? (Uncountable)

We use lots of in positive and negative sentences, however it is more informal. It can be used with countable or uncountable nouns, and occasionally in questions.

  • We have lots of time to catch the plane, let’s relax. (Uncountable noun)
  • There are lots of people in the queue today. (Countable)
  • Oh my, you have spent lots of money on clothes! (Uncountable)
  • I have lots of questions(Countable)

She has a lot of money = She has lots of money

Much vs. Many

Much and Many are used to express that there is a large quantity of something.

Much and Many are used in negative sentences and questions.
Many is used with countable nouns
Much is used with uncountable nouns.

  • I don’t have many CDs in my collection. (Countable noun)
  • They don’t have much money to buy a present. (Uncountable noun)
  • How many brothers do you have? (Countable noun)
  • Is there much milk in the fridge? (Uncountable noun)

Note: we almost never use Much and Many in positive sentences, we almost always use a lot of or lots of.

I have much money. (Incorrect because the sentence is positive / affirmative)
I have a lot of money. (Correct)

With the word “times” we use many times more than a lot of times / lots of times. It sometimes means frequently or often.

  • That is my favourite book. I’ve read it many times.
  • Don’t worry, I’ve done this many times.
  • We have stayed at this hotel many times over the years.

Few vs. Little

We use a few and a little to suggest a small quantity or not much of something.
A few is used with countable nouns (= some; not many)
A little is used with uncountable nouns (= some; not much)

  • There are only a few days left until Christmas. (Countable noun)
  • I have a few crazy friends. (Countable noun)
  • I would like a little milk for my coffee. (Uncountable noun)
  • There is little hope of finding your wallet. (Uncountable noun)

While Few and Little usually have negative meanings, especially when used with very.

  • He is sad because he has few friends(Countable noun)
  • There are few honest politicians(Countable noun)
  • There is little hope of finding your wallet. (Uncountable noun)
  • They have very little knowledge about politics. (Uncountable noun)

Direction: (1-20): The sentence given below, have three parts, indicated by (a), (b) and (c). read each sentence to find out whether there is an error. If you find an error in any part [(a), (b) or (c)] of a sentence, indicate your response by blackening the letter related to that part in the answer sheet provided. If a sentence has no error, indicate by blacking the part (d), which stands for ‘No error’. (Ignore the error of punctuation, if any)

  1. When I got (a) / home I was (b) / too exhausted (c) / No error (d)
  2. I did not know hardly (a) anyone in the city (b) / and so felt lonely (c) / No error (d)
  3. I rarely find something (a) / in the movies (b) / that is worth remembering (c) / No error (d)
  4. You have (a) / acted nobler (b) / than all of us (c) / No error (d)
  5. Don’t stop (a) / anywhere. Go home (b) / directly (c) / No error (d)
  6. He has no time (a) / to read magazines (b) / and no desire neither (c) / No error (d)
  7. He has not seldom (a) / visited his parents (b) / since he left this place (c) / No error (d)
  8. It was much hot (a) / yesterday and we (b) / didn’t go out (c) / No error (d)
  9. I meet him often (a) / near (b) / the Town Hall (c) / No error (d)
  10. I told her (a) as blunt as I could (b) / but she was not convinced (c) / No error (d)
  11. My mother works (a) / very quicker than (b) / I at embroidery (c) / No error (d)
  12. She is sure a great singer (a) and no other singer (b) / is a match for her (c) / No error (d)
  13. It is better to be frugal (a) / but don’t be miser (b) / in giving alms (c) / No error (d)
  14. I never remember (a) / to have met (b) / a more interesting girl in my life (c) / No error (d)
  15. I refused to (a) / accompany him because (b) / I was so tired (c) / No error (d)
  16. Raja Ram Mohan Roy tired to eradicate (a) / social evils with (b) / tooth and nail (c) / No error (d)
  17. The student came to the classroom (a) / lately and was punished (b) / by the teacher (c) / No error (d)
  18. He looks full of energy (a) / today because he (b) / soundly slept last night (c) / No error (d)
  19. She had barely nothing (a) / to eat when she came (b) / to me last month. (c) / No error (d)
  20. It had been too cold (a) / the whole month and we preferred (b)/ to stay in the plains (c) / No error (d)

Answer Key With Explanation

  1. (c) Replace ‘too’ by ‘very’
  2. (a) Replace ‘did not know hardly’ by ‘hardly knew’
  3. (a) Replace ‘something’ by ‘anything’
  4. (b) Replace ‘nobler’ by ‘more nobly’
  5. (c) Replace ‘directly’ by ‘direct’
  6. (c) Replace ‘neither’ by ‘either’
  7. (a) Delete ‘not’
  8. (a) Replace ‘much’ by ‘very’
  9. (a) Replace ‘meet him often’ by ‘often meet him’
  10. (b) Replace ‘blunt’ by ‘bluntly’
  11. (b) Replace ‘very quicker’ by ‘more quickly’.
  12. (a) Replace ‘sure’ by ‘surely’
  13. (b) Replace ‘miser’ by ‘miserly’
  14. (a) Replace ‘never’ by ‘do not’
  15. (c) Replace ‘so’ by ‘very’
  16. (b) Delete ‘with’
  17. (b) Replace ‘lately’ by ‘late’
  18. (c) Replace ‘soundly slept’ by ‘slept soundly’
  19. (a) Replace ‘nothing’ by ‘anything’
  20. (a) Replace ‘too’ by ‘very’
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