Adverb Definition & Types

adverb definition and types

An adverb is a word, or phrase, which modifies verbs, adjectives or other adverbs to describe how, where or when an action took place. Here we’ll look at adverb definition and types, with examples.

Many people find adverbs hard to understand or recognise in a piece of text.

Look for the words that answer questions such as:
– in what way?
– to what extent?
– how much?
– how often?

Jason talked loudly.  
He speaks English fluently.
They shared the cake fairly.
She always shops online. 


Adverbs are often formed by adding -ly to an adjective:

slow – slowly
weak – weakly
frequent – frequently

although there are many exceptions and irregulars, for example:


adjective adverb
adjective, add +ly slow slowly
adjective ending –y, replace –y with –i, add +ly happy happily
adjective ending -able, -ible, -le, replace -e with -y laughable laughably
adjective ending -ic, add +ally basic basically
some are the same fast fast
some adverbs are irregular good well


Adverbs describe when, where, how, how often, how much an action took place. They are divided  into categories to reflect this. There are five basic types of adverbs.

adverbs of time – when? for how long? how often?
adverbs of place – where?
adverbs of frequency – how often? how many times?
adverbs of manner – how? in what way? in what manner?
adverbs of degree – how much? to what extent?


Adverbs of time express when something happened:

today, yesterday, tomorrow, tonight, first, last
early, later, soon, regularly, never

These adverbs tell when and answer questions 
– when? 
– at what time? 
– for how long?
– how often?

An adverb of time may be found at the beginning or end of a sentence, before or after the main verb.

Yesterday the sun shone and there was not a cloud in the sky.
He will come round later.

The position of the adverb of time at the beginning of the sentence puts emphasis on the time.


Adverbs of place express where something happened:

here, there, nearby, inside, outside, underground,
overground, top, somewhere, nowhere

They answer the question
– where? 

An adverb of place is almost always placed after the verb.
They are not used to modify adjectives or other adverbs.

John looked everywhere for his lost keys.
The boys were playing outside.

Note – many adverbs of place are also prepositions of place – when used as prepositions they are followed by a noun.


Adverbs of frequency express how often or how many times something happened:

frequently, infrequently, regularly, often, always, daily,
weekly, fortnightly, again and again, enough, only

They answer the questions
– how often?
– how many times?

An adverb of frequency is mostly placed before the verb.

He rarely visits his mother.
She always forgets her books.

exceptions are the more specific adverbs daily, fortnightly, yearly, annually

The menu changes daily. 

Adverbs of frequency express degrees of frequency.

never 0%
hardly ever, rarely, seldom 10 - 20%
occasionally, sometimes 30 - 50%
often, usually, normally, generally 60 - 70%
frequently, regularly 80 - 90%
always 100%


Adverbs of manner express how something was done

cheerfully, sadly, slowly, wearily, firmly, foolishly,
delightfully, carelessly, selflessly, kindly, hastily

Most adverbs of manner end in -ly
some exceptions include well, hard, late, fast

They answer the questions
– how?
– in what manner?

The girl read quickly.
The boy ate hungrily.

If there is a direct object in the sentence, the adverb of manner comes after it, and not straight after the verb:

The child petted her dog lovingly.
The artist painted the model beautifully


Adverbs of degree express how much something is done. They express the intensity.

extremely, fully, hardly, somewhat, thoroughly, very,
fairly, really, nearly, barely, too, just, enough

They answer the questions
– how much?
to what extent? 
– to what degree?

An adverb of manner will often come before the word they are modifying.

The exam was extremely easy.
It was barely raining.
It was very interesting to live in Japan for a year.


with verbs
in many cases they can come before or after the verb. If they come before the verb they generally add more emphasis:
He ate his lunch quickly.
He quickly ate his lunch.

with adjectives
they often make the adjective stronger or weaker.
She was hugely overweight 
She is very tall.    

with other adverbs
they change the degree of intensity
He ran too slowly.
She was talking very quickly.


1. Adverbs of time answer all of these questions, except
a. when
b. for how long
c. why
d. how often

2. Adverbs can modify all of the following, except
a. verbs
b. adjectives
c. other adverbs
d. conjunctions

3. Make the following into adverbs

1. c   2. d
3. slowly, luckily, fast, economically, early

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