An adverb is a word that’s used to give information about a verb, adjective, or other adverb:

  • they sang loudly
  • she’s very pretty
  • he writes really well

Using adverbs

When used with a verb, adverbs can tell us about:

  • how something happens or is done (manner):

She stretched lazily.

He walked slowly.

The town is easily accessible by road.

  • where something happens (place):

I live here.

She’s travelling abroad.

The children tiptoed upstairs.

  • when or how often something happens (time and frequency):

They visited us yesterday.

I have to leave soon.

He still lives in London.

The engines were checked daily for faults.

Adverbs can make the meaning of a verb, adjective, or other adverb stronger or weaker. These are often called adverbs of degree:

  • with a verb:

I almost fell asleep.

He really means it.

  • with an adjective:

These schemes are very clever.

This is a slightly better result.

  • with another adverb:

They nearly always get home late.

The answer to both questions is really rather simple.

Positions of adverbs

As a general rule, adverbs can be used in three positions:

  • front (perhaps they’ll arrive this evening)
  • mid (she hardly knew him)
  • end (I left the bedroom and ran downstairs)

Read more about positions of adverbs.

Comparative and superlative adverbs

Many adverbs (like adjectives) can have three forms: the positive (e.g. early); the comparative (e.g. earlier) and the superlative (e.g. earliest). The formation of comparative and superlative adverbs (and adjectives) is known as comparison.

Read more about forming comparative and superlative adverbs.

You can read more rules and guidelines about using adverbs on the Oxford Dictionaries blog.


Back to word classes (or parts of speech).

You may also be interested in:

Sentence adverbs

Adverbials and adjuncts

Split infinitives

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Grammar and usage