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Advanced Adverbs. Free English Lesson with Test and Certificate.

Masterclass Adverb study for SAT, IELTS, TESOL and other exams.

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How to use adverbs in English

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Suzy says:

 

Adverbs are used to modify or describe verbs. They can be used to describe time, as in "she is still a student," ... or to describe frequency, as in "he plays soccer sometimes," ... and to describe the degree of measurements, as in "the bottle is almost full."

In this lesson you'll learn about the correct orders of adverbs in a sentence, and the different uses that adverbs have.

 

Your English lesson about Advanced Adverbs

 

Welcome to the advanced Adverbs Lesson! In this lesson, you will be reminded about the basic, everyday rules for adverbs. But as this is an advanced lesson, we have also included nine ‘masterclass’ adverb lessons.

First, here’s a general overview of what adjectives and adverbs are and the parts of speech. (Adjectives are covered in detail in our Everyday course).

There are four parts of speech, or four basic types of words:
Nouns are people, places, things and ideas.
Verbs are action words.
Adjectives describe or modify (change) nouns.
Adverbs describe or modify verbs (they can also modify adjectives and other adverbs). 


Reminder about basic adverbs (and adjectives)

Have a look at the following examples.

The tall man walked slowly down the quiet street.
The jet airplane is fast. 
He runs fast.
The serious student’s English skills improved rapidly.

 
Can you identify the adjectives and adverbs in these sentences? 


In the first sentence, the adjectives are tall and quiet. Tall describes the man and quiet describes the street.
In the second sentence, jet and fast are adjectives.
In the third sentence, fast is used again, but in this case, it’s an adverb. We are saying that he runs fast. Fast is describing how he runs (a verb). 
And, in the final example sentence, serious and English are adjectives. Serious modifies the student and English modifies skills. Rapidly is an adverb because it is describing the word improved. You will notice that many adverbs end with the letters ‘ly’.

There are many different types of adverbs:

Adverbs of manner answer the question “How?”
Adverbs of place answer the question “Where?”
Adverbs of time answer the question “When?”
Adverbs of frequency answer the question “How many times? Or How often?”
Adverbs of degree answer the question “To what extent?”

1. The Seven Rules of Adverb Placement

Now that we have learned about the different types of adverbs, let’s move on to adverb placement. One thing you will notice about adverbs is that they can appear in different places in a sentence. Adverbs of manner are very flexible. See the following examples.
 
Sternly, the teacher talked to her class.
The teacher sternly talked to her class.
The teacher talked to her class sternly.
 

The following adverbs of frequency appear in different locations in these sentences:
 
Before the main verb:
I never go home before seven o'clock.
Between the auxiliary verb and the main verb:
I have rarely walked to work late at night.
Before the verb used to: 
I always used to see him at the beach.
 
Indefinite adverbs of time can appear either before the verb or between the auxiliary and the main verb:
 
He finally showed up for the meeting.
She has recently quit her job.
 
As you have seen, there is a lot of flexibility with the location of adverbs, but if you can remember these 7 rules, you will be able to avoid most mistakes.
 
1. To stress the adverb, put it before the subject.
Clearly, the student didn’t study hard enough.
 
2. An adverb that does not need emphasis comes after the subject and before the simple verb.
My father always reads the newspaper.
 
3. Do not put an adverb between a verb and its object.
He sings loudly the song.       = is incorrect
He sings the song loudly.     = is correct
 
4. An adverb modifying a two-word compound verb comes between the helping verb and the main verb.
The teacher will probably give us homework. 
The student has never finished his homework on time.
My friend was always reading comic books.

 
5. An adverb modifying a three-word compound verb comes after the first helping verb when the adverb modifies the entire thought communicated by the compound verb.
The children have already been told that school is closed next week.  
We will surely have seen the test results by next Monday.
 

6. If an adverb strongly modifies the main verb, put it before the main verb, not after the first helping verb in a compound verb with three or more words.
I have been actively working on this project for a few weeks.   
He will have joyfully received the news of his award when we see him tonight.

 
7. An adverbial expression consisting of several words usually comes after the compound verb.
The children have to be reminded again and again to clean up their toys. 
It has been raining off and on for a few days.

 
Now, let’s look at each of the different types of adverbs in more detail.

2. Adverbs of manner


Adverbs of manner answer the question “How?”
 
Again, as we said before, these adverbs are very flexible, but they usually come after the direct object, or if there is no direct object, after the verb.
 
She speaks French beautifully.
He reads well.
You must drive your car carefully in the snow.
Sit quietly.

3. Adverbs of place


 Adverbs of place answer the question “Where?”
 
These adverbs usually come after the object, or after the verb.
 
We saw you there.
We were sitting here.
We looked everywhere.

 

 

4. Adverbs of time


 Adverbs of time answer the question “When?”
 
These adverbs usually come either at the very beginning of the sentence or at the end.
 
Afterwards we decided to go by car.
I've never eaten that kind of food before.

 
A quick note about yet and still:
- Yet should be placed at the end of the sentence. 
- Still should be placed before the verb, except with the verb 'to be' when it comes after.
 
We haven't started yet.
He still wears old-fashioned clothes.
She is still a student.
The train still hasn't arrived.
The train hasn't arrived yet.

 

 

5. Adverbs of frequency


Adverbs of frequency answer the question “How many times? Or How often?”
 
These adverbs come after the verb 'to be'.
She is always honest.
 
They can also come before simple tenses of all other verbs.
They sometimes spend the whole weekend fishing.
 
Adverbs of frequency can also appear after the first auxiliary verb in a tense consisting of more than one verb.
I have often wondered how they did that.
I can sometimes go without food for days.

 
Note: with 'used to' and 'have' the frequency adverb is usually placed in front.
We always used to look forward to the school holidays.
He never has any trouble with his old car.

 

 

6. Adverbs of degree


Adverbs of degree answer the question “To what extent?”
 
When adverbs of degree modify an adverb or an adjective, they come before the word it modifies:

The bottle is almost full.
They should be able to pass their exams quite easily.

 
When adverbs of degree modify verbs, they follow the same pattern as frequency adverbs in terms of where they are placed:

I can hardly hear you.
We had just reached the camp ground when the rain started.
I am almost finished reading my book.

 

 

7. Adverb inversion

 
If you begin a sentence with one of the words below, the normal word order changes. With the following adverbs the verb comes first followed by the subject:
 
never, seldom, scarcely ..... when, no sooner ..... than, nowhere, in no circumstances, on no account, only then, not only
 
Seldom has one family seen so many hardships.
No sooner did we hear the results than there was a knock at the door.
Never would I be persuaded to buy a secondhand car.

 

 

8. Adverb order

Similar to adjectives, when we use more than one adverb or adverb clause, there is a standard order. If you have multiple adverbs in one sentence, put time adverbs at the beginning of the sentence, and put first manner and and then place adverbs after the verb. Or, put all the adverbs after the verb in this order: manner, place, time.
 

  • First. We use adverbs describing the manner in which something is done, such as ‘reluctantly’, ‘energetically’ first.

  • Next, use adverbs describing the place or location that the verb is happening in - ‘in the church’, ‘on the table’.

  • Then we use adverbs describing the frequency that the verb is happening at - ‘daily’, ‘every hour’.

  • After frequency, you can use adverbs describing the time that the verb is happening at - ‘afternoon’, ‘before school’, ‘during break’.

  • Lastly, we will see adverbs describing the reason or purpose of the verb - ‘to get rich’, ‘to go to sleep’.

 
Here’s an example sentence, written first without using the rules and then written using the rules:

Incorrect
To stay healthy I played basketball every Sunday morning excitedly at the park.
This sentence just doesn’t sound right because the adverbs aren’t written in the correct order.

 

Correct
I played basketball excitedly at the park every Sunday morning to stay healthy.

 

Correct
In the morning, I played basketball excitedly at the park every Sunday to stay healthy.
 

 

9. Using two adverbs together

Sometimes placing two adverbs in a row sounds awkward.
 
She nearly accidentally tripped.    = incorrect
He runs extremely rapidly.        = incorrect
 
These sentences sound clumsy because the adverbs all end in "ly." In contrast, the adverb combination in the following sentence is okay.
 
Tom is almost always late.        = correct
 
These adverbs have different endings and speakers can easily pronounce them.

 


Lastly, let’s look at adverbs with two forms (one with LY and the other without) such as dead or deadly; rough or roughly. There is usually a difference of meaning or how it is used. Some examples are given below.
 
Dead and Deadly
In certain expressions, the adverb dead is used to mean exactly, completely or very.
 
Examples are: dead certain, dead slow, dead right, dead wrong, etc.
 
Deadly is often an adjective. It means causing death. The adverb form of deadly means fatally.

The mushroom was deadly.
 


Fine and Finely
The adverb fine means well.
 
“How are you?” “I am fine.”
 
The adverb finely is used to talk about small careful adjustments and similar ideas.
 
His sports car was a finely tuned machine.
 


Free and Freely
When used after a verb, the adverb free means without payment.
 
Buy two shirts and get one free.
Can I eat for free in your restaurant?

 
Freely means without limit or restriction.
 
It’s OK. You can speak freely.
 


Hard and Hardly
As an adverb, hard means heavily, severely or with difficulty.
 
You must work hard.
 
Hardly means almost none.
 
I have hardly any money left.
 


Late and Lately
The adverb late has a similar meaning to the adjective late. Lately means a short time ago and recently.
 
We will be late for dinner.
It is getting late.
I have not read anything lately.

 


Most and Mostly
Most is the superlative of much. It is used to form superlative adjectives and adverbs.
 
Those who have the most money are not always the happiest.
 
In a formal style, most can mean very.
This is a most interesting book.
 
Mostly means chiefly, generally or ‘in most cases’.
My friends are mostly good students.
 


Real and Really
In informal American English, real is often used before adjectives and adverbs. It means the same as really.
 
That was real nice.     (=really nice)
She sings real well.     (=really well)

 

In 'English English' you would say: "She sings really well."
 


Sure and Surely
In an informal style, sure is often used to mean certainly. This is common in American English.
 
Q: ‘Can I borrow your bicycle?’ 
A: ‘Sure.’

In 'English English' you might say: "Surely you aren't cycling in the rain?"

 


It’s story time
 
Now that we’ve learned a lot about adverbs, let’s see how they are used in a short story.  As you read the following story, pay attention to how the adverbs are used.
 
Gary always loved to go the park on Sunday mornings. He usually went very early. Today, he whistled joyfully while he walked excitedly. Sometimes, he stopped to eat a quick breakfast at the coffee shop on the way. But today, he had wisely chosen to not eat because he knew he would be exercising vigorously at the park.
 
There was a bounce in his step when he arrived at the park. First, he happily noticed that there were already many people playing basketball. His friends loudly called out to him, and he stretched hurriedly to get ready to play.
 
Gary always played enthusiastically. He shot really well that day, and although he wasn’t fast, he reacted quickly during the games.
 
As the weather became hotter, he finally decided to stop playing. He was dead tired, but he remembered that he always felt better after he cooled down. Gary and his friends began to stroll calmly around the park. They laughed happily when they walked past the playground and fondly remembered all the times they played there when they were young.
 
As they slowly approached the baseball field, they suddenly realized that there was a little league game taking place. Gary had always enjoyed watching baseball, and after some heated discussion, his friends ultimately agreed to sit down and watch for a little while. Gary was still really hot and tired from the basketball game, so he appreciated the opportunity to relax for a minute.
 
They had hardly watched any of the game when Gary suddenly remembered that he hadn’t eaten anything all day. Now he knew why he was feeling so tired. After arguing with his friends to convince them to watch the game, now he sheepishly asked them if they wouldn’t mind joining him for a quick lunch. His friends teased him mercilessly on the way to the restaurant, but they really didn’t mean it. As usual, they had enjoyed a great day at the park.

That’s the end of the lesson on advanced adverbs.

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