Home / English Grammar Notes: Adverbs Spelling -LY

English Grammar Notes: Adverbs Spelling -LY

Adjective vs. Adverb Review

Adjectives describe nouns (things).

  • My dog is slow.

Slow is an adjective since it describes the subject (my dog).

How is my dog? Slow


Adverbs describe verbs (actions).

  • My dog eats slowly.

Slowly is an adverb since it describes the way my dog eats.

How does my dog eat? Slowly.

For details see our page about Adjectives vs Adverbs.

Adverbs -LY

Adverbs are normally formed by adding -LY to the end of an adjective.

E.g. Quick – Quickly

For adjectives that end in -l or -e, we simply add -ly:

special + ly = specially
terminal + ly = terminally
literal + ly = literally
nice + ly = nicely
polite + ly = politely

There are of course some exceptions:

true truly
whole wholly
due duly
full fully

Adverbs ending in -Y

For adjectives that end in -y, we remove the -y and add -ily:

crazy crazily
happy happily

Adverbs ending in -LE

For adjectives that end in a consonant + le we remove the -e and add -y:

terrible terribly
horrible horribly
noble nobly
idle idly

Adverbs ending in -IC

If the adjective ends in -ic, we add -ally:

ironic ironically
enthusiastic enthusiastically
realistic realistically

Except: public – publicly

Irregular Adverbs

Some adverbs are irregular:

Adjective Adverb Example
fast fast The man drives very fast (quickly).
good well You speak English very well.
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