1. What is an Adverb?

An Adverb is a word that is used in a sentence to qualify (describe or give more information about) verbs, adjectives, adverbs, any parts of a sentence or a whole sentence. In modern grammar, the scope of adverbs has been much enlarged, and it qualifies almost any part of speech.

Remember! Adverbs never qualify nouns and pronouns, though there are a few exceptions.

  • The dress is very beautiful. (Adverb, qualifying adjective)
  • He walks slowly. (Adverb, qualifying verb)
  • He swims very quickly. (Adverb, qualifying adverb)
  • The arrow pierced the king right through the heart. (Adverb, qualifying preposition)
  • I made the noise simply because he forbade me to do so. (Adverb, qualifying conjunction)
  • Unfortunately, I didn’t have my debit card with me or I’d certainly have bought it. (Adverb, qualifying a whole sentence)
  • The then chief minister launched the scheme. (Adverb, qualifying a noun)

2. Kinds of Adverb

There are three kinds of Adverbs, according to their usage in a sentence.

Simple or Independent Adverbs

These adverbs qualify words or sentences. e.g.,

  • King Porus fought well.
  • Unfortunately, the king died falling from the stairs of the Sher-E library in Delhi.

Conjunctive or Relative Adverbs

Besides functioning as Simple Adverbs, these adverbs also connect clauses. If the antecedent is there, the adverb is called the Relative Adverb, or it is called Conjunctive.

  • Dhanananda knew the reason why Vishnugupta came in the town. (Relative Adverb)
  • Dhanananda knew why Vishnugupta came in the town. (Conjunctive)

Interrogative Adverbs

These adverbs create direct or indirect questions.

  • How did the president do it?
  • Do you know where the prince hid the princes?

3. Types of Simple or Independent Adverbs

I. Adverbs of Manner or Quality: Slowly, cowardly, highly, badly, well, ill, so, soundly, delightfully, etc.
II. Adverbs of Place: There, where, near, everywhere, upward, backward, after, below, down etc.
III. Adverbs of Time: Yet, already, ago, before, now, then, always, never, ever, while, today, yesterday, etc.
IV. Adverbs of Frequency: Hardly, rarely, barely, scarcely, always, usually, etc.
V. Adverbs of Degree: Very, much, less, more, too, little, enough, once, twice, almost, hardly, rather, etc.
V. Adverbs of Cause and Effect: Accordingly, therefore, why, hence, etc.
VI. Adverb of affirmation and negation: Yes, no, not, indeed, obviously, certainly, etc.
VII. Adverbs of Order: First, second, secondly, last, lastly, etc.

4. Adverbs of Manner

Adverbs of Manner or Quality show how a thing or action or event is done. These adverbs are placed only after the Intransitive verb. However, the adverb can be placed either before or after the transitive verb. e.g.,

  • The king returned immediately.
  • We slept soundly last night.
  • A brave soldier never fights in a cowardly manner in the battleground for his nation.
  • We did well in the last game.

5. Adverbs of Place

Adverbs of Place show where a thing or action or event happens.

  • Messi looks above after every goal he scores.
  • We went there after they had left.

6. Adverbs of Time

Adverbs of Time show when a thing or an action or event happens.

  • She never tells a lie.
  • I went there yesterday.
  • Sometimes it’s best not to say anything.
  • The match had already begun by the time we arrived.

7. Adverbs of Order

Never ever fetch –ly with ‘First’, because it is itself an adverb. Correct order should be,
First – Secondly – Thirdly; e.g.,

  • First they made a draft of the constitution. Secondly, they revised that carefully. Thirdly, they finalized.

8. Partial Inversion

If a sentence starts with an adverb, inversion of the verb takes place for the sake of emphasis. e.g.,

  • Seldom do we receive any apology when mistakes are made.
  • Not seldom do we receive any apology.
  • Hardly had we reached the station when the train left.
  • No sooner did I reach the station than the train left.

 See more example

Remember! Complete inversion:

  • The cat is lying under the table. (Normal sentence)
  • Under the table is lying the cat. (Completely inverted)

 See more example

9. Adverbial Phrases

Sometimes two or more words sit together to work as an adverb. e.g.,

‘Seldom or never’, ‘seldom if ever’, ‘hardly or none’, ‘hardly if one’, ‘now and then’, ‘by and by’, ‘up and down’, ‘in time’, ‘off and on’, ‘little or nothing’, ‘little if anything’, ‘bag and baggage’, ‘by no means’, ‘heart and soul’, ‘in short’, ‘in vain’, ‘hardly ever’, ‘if ever’, ‘for ever’, etc. e.g.,
  • I seldom or never go outside in this Covid situation.
  • I seldom if ever go outside in this Covid situation.
  • We found little or nothing in the pot.
  • We found little if anything in the pot.

10. Introductory adverb ‘There’

Basically, it has no meaning in a sentence when used in such a way. e.g.,

  • There was no one there.
  • There lived in this cottage a women, named Julie.
  • There goes the king with his men.

11. ‘The’ as an Adverb

  • The higher, the cooler.
  • The sooner, the better.

The first ‘the’ shows by how much or to what extent; thus it is a Relative Adverb.
The second ‘the’ shows by so much or to that extent; thus it is a Demonstrative Adverb.

12. ‘Else’ is an Adverb

Remember! Else is not a conjunction.

  • Stay alert, else you will lose your money. (Incorrect)
  • Stay alert, or you will lose your money.
  • Stay alert, or else you will lose your money.

13. Adverbs used as other parts of speech

  • I don’t know from where he got the money. (used as a Noun)
  • Since then she has become an entirely changed woman. (used as a Noun)
  • I cannot give him the why and the wherefore of my information. (used as a Noun)
  • You, down on your knees. (used as a verb)
  • Down with your temper. (used as a verb)
  • This is the only way you could out of this crisis. (used as an Adjective)
  • The up train leaves as soon as the down train leaves. (used as an Adjective)
  • He was the then president of India. (used as an Adjective)

14. Other parts of speech used as Adverbs

  • We hurried home. (from Noun)
  • He went away yesterday. (from Noun)
  • The man appears dead drunk. (from Adjective)
  • I am all alone. (from Adjective)
  • She went round. (from Preposition)
  • Jill came after. (from Preposition)
  • I was nonetheless sure that he was not coming with me. (from Pronoun)

15. Position of Adverbs in a sentence

I. Adverbs usually sit after an Intransitive verb. e.g.,

  • The boys played well.
  • She came early.
  • He reads fast.

II. Adverbs of time and frequency sit before all verbs, except ‘to be’. e.g.,

  • I frequently visit her place.
  • She always supports me.
  • She never comes here. But,
  • She is always energetic.
  • She is never late.

III. Adverbs usually sit after objects. e.g.,

  • They faced the trouble boldly.
  • He has learnt his lesson well.

IV. For the sake of emphasis Adverbs sometimes sit at the beginning of a sentence.

In this case, Adverbs qualify the whole sentence as well. e.g.,

  • Silently he entered the room.
  • Fortunately, he was present there.
  • Slowly it became poisonous.

V. Adverbs usually sit between the principal and the auxiliary verbs, e.g.,

  • I have often brought her biryani
  • You will never miss me.

VI. Adverbs sit before an adjective that they qualify. e.g.,

  • She was very happy.
  • I am rather sorry for Mr Chatterjee.

Remember! ‘enough’, when an adverb, always sit before the word it qualifies.
In other words, it sits after the adjective. e.g.,

  • She is cunning enough to control him.
  • He is rich enough to buy the car.

16. Order of multiple Adverbs in a sentence

When these three (Manner, Place & Time) adverbs are used together in a sentence then the sequence should be MPT. e.g.,

  • She performed gracefully at the function yesterday.

Remember! When the verb denotes a movement then the sequence should be PMT. e.g.,

  • Hearing the news of his uncle’s death, he rushed immediately to his uncle’s house yesterday. (Incorrect)
  • Hearing the news of his uncle’s death, he rushed to his uncle’s house immediately yesterday.

Remember! Time is flexible, so we can use it at the beginning of the sentence

  • Yesterday, hearing the news of his uncle’s death, he rushed to his uncle’s house immediately.

17. Sentence Adverbs

There are a few adverbs, that qualify the whole sentence, usually sitting at the beginning of the sentence. e.g.,

Then, now, perhaps, so, indeed, yet, therefore, however, accordingly, moreover, otherwise, thus, besides, consequently, unfortunately, surprisingly, etc.
  • Perhaps, she is innocent.
  • Then, this was the story of my life.
  • Moreover, it is in accurate.

See more example

18. Quasi-Adverb

A few adjectives, sometimes used idiomatically as adverbs, are termed Quasi-Adverb.

Preliminary, contrary, previous, regardless, irrespective, preparatory, pursuant, etc.
  • I arrived prior to her.
  • He acted contrary to his father’s advice.

19. Pronominal Adverbs

A few Adverbs are called Pronominal Adverbs as they are derived from certain pronouns.

  • Here, hence –> derived from This
  • There, then, thus –> derived from That
  • Where, when, how –> derived from Who

20. Genitival Adverbs

A few Adverbs that are derived from possessive nouns are called Genitival Adverbs. e.g.,

Once, twice, thrice, always, sideways, etc.

21. Use of ‘Only’

Special care has to be taken in the use of Only. Meaning or intention of a sentence changes with the position of Only in the sentence. e.g.,

  • Only he promised to help the girl. (only he, none else)
  • He only promised to help the girl. (only promised, did not help)
  • He promised only to help the girl. (only to help, nothing else)
  • He promised to help only the girl. (only for the girl, for no one else)

22. Else vs. Other

Else always pairs with But; Else-but (sense of except)
Other/Otherwise always pairs with Than; Other-than

  • Everybody else has agreed but you.
  • I have no other alternative than stay here.

Remember! Else is used after the words beginning with every-, any-, no- and some-; and with Wh words like, what, who, why, how; but do not use else with which and another.

‘or else’ is used to say sentences like conditional but not actually conditional, to express the consequence if another action does not happen. It is also used to compare two different situations or things. e.g.,

  • You must be there, or else the prize will be awarded to someone else.
  • The kid is either really silent and you can’t utter him a single word or else he is talkative.

23. Use of ‘Enough’

‘enough’, when an adverb, always sit before the word it qualifies.
‘enough’, when an adjective, always sit either before or after the noun it qualifies. e.g.,

  • I was stupid enough to believe her. (Adverb)
  • I was enough stupid to believe her. (Adjective)
  • He has enough knowledge. (Adjective)

24. Use of ‘Too much’ and ‘Much too’

‘too much’ is used before a noun.
‘much too’ is used before an adjective.

  • Your words gave me too much pain.
  • Your words were much too painful.

25. Use of ‘Too’ and ‘Too … to’

‘too’ is used in the place of ‘very’.
‘too’ can also be used in the sense of ‘also’.

  • I will also go there with you.
  • I too will go with you.

26. Use of ‘quite’ and ‘rather’

quite’ is used in a positive sense but ‘rather’ is used in a negative sense.

  • The drink is rather hot. (Negative)
  • The drink is quite cold. (Positive)
  • The tea is quite hot. (Positive)
  • The tea is rather cold. (Negative)

27. Use of ‘very’ and ‘much’

very’ is used in a positive degree and also before present participles.
much’ is used in a comparative degree and also before past participles.

  • He is very honest.
  • He is much more honest than his brother.
  • The movie is very entertaining. (very + Verb +ing)
  • I am much interested to go with you. (much + V3)

Remember! There are a few exceptions. e.g.,

[ Tired, bored, dejected, contended, limited, pleased, etc.] sit by very. e.g.,

  • I am very tired.
  • She feels very dejected.
  • We are very pleased.