From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Jump to: navigation, search
"Adverbs" redirects here. For the Daniel Handler novel, see Adverbs (novel).
  • I found the film incredibly dull.
  • The meeting went well and the directors were extremely happy with the outcome.
  • Crabs are known for walking sideways.
  • Only members are allowed to enter.
  • I usually have eggs for breakfast.
  • However, I will not eat fried eggs again.

An adverb is a word that changes or simplifies the meaning of a verb, adjective, other adverb, clause, or sentence expressing manner, place, time, or degree.

Adverbs typically answer questions such as how?, in what way?, when?, where?, and to what extent?. This function is called the adverbial function, and is realised not just by single words (i.e., adverbs) but by adverbial phrases and adverbial clauses.


Adverbs are words like slowly, now, soon, and suddenly. An adverb usually modifies a verb or a verb phrase. It provides information about the manner, place, time, frequency, certainty, or other circumstances of the activity denoted by the verb or verb phrase. Examples:

1. The kids are skating together. (Here, the adverb together provides information about how the kids are skating.)

Adverbs can also modify adjectives and other adverbs.

1. You are quite right. (Here, the adverb quite modifies the adjective right.)

2. She spoke very loudly. (Here, the adverb very modifies another adverb – loudly.)

In English, adverbs of manner (answering the question how?) are often formed by adding -ly to adjectives. Other languages often have similar methods for deriving adverbs from adjectives (French, for example, uses the suffix -ment), or else use the same form for both adjectives and adverbs. Some examples are listed under Adverbs in specific languages below.

Where the meaning permits, adverbs may undergo comparison, taking comparative and superlative forms. In English this is usually done by adding more and most before the adverb (more slowly, most slowly), although there are a few adverbs that take inflected forms, such as well, for which better and best are used.

For more information about the use of adverbs in English, see English grammar: Adverbs. For use in other languages, see Adverbs in specific languages below, and the articles on individual languages and their grammars.

Adverbs as a "catch all" category[edit]

Adverbs are considered a part of speech in traditional English grammar and are still included as a part of speech in grammar taught in schools and used in dictionaries. However, modern grammarians recognize that words traditionally grouped together as adverbs serve a number of different functions. Some would go so far as to call adverbs a "catch all" category that includes all words that do not belong to one of the other parts of speech.

A more logical approach to dividing words into classes relies on recognizing which words can be used in a certain context. For example, the only type of word that can be inserted in the following template to form a grammatical sentence is a noun:

The_____is red. (For example, "The hat is red".)

When this approach is taken, it is seen that adverbs fall into a number of different categories. For example, some adverbs can be used to modify an entire sentence, whereas others cannot. Even when a sentential adverb has other functions, the meaning is often not the same. For example, in the sentences She gave birth naturally and Naturally, she gave birth, the word naturally has different meanings. Naturally as a sentential adverb means something like "of course" and as a verb-modifying adverb means "in a natural manner". This "naturally" distinction demonstrates that the class of sentential adverbs is a closed class (there is resistance to adding new words to the class), whereas the class of adverbs that modify verbs is not.

Words like very and particularly afford another example. We can say Perry is very fast, but not Perry very won the race. These words can modify adjectives but not verbs. On the other hand, there are words like here and there that cannot modify adjectives. We can say The sock looks good there but not It is a there beautiful sock. The fact that many adverbs can be used in more than one of these functions can confuse this issue, and it may seem like splitting hairs to say that a single adverb is really two or more words that serve different functions. However, this distinction can be useful, especially considering adverbs like naturally that have different meanings in their different functions. Huddleston distinguishes between a word and a lexicogrammatical-word.[1]

Grammarians have a difficult time categorizing not, and it probably belongs in its own class.[2][3]

Adverbs in specific languages[edit]

Listed below are some of the principles for formation and use of adverbs in certain languages. For more information, see the articles on individual languages and their grammars.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Huddleston, Rodney (1988). English grammar: an outline. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 7. doi:10.2277/0521311527. ISBN 0-521-32311-8. 
  2. ^ Cinque, Guglielmo. 1999. Adverbs and functional heads—a cross linguistic perspective. Oxford: Oxford University press.
  3. ^ Haegeman, Liliane. 1995. The syntax of negation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

External links[edit]