What is an Adverb? Definition and Examples of Adverbs in Sentences

Adverb Definition: An adverb is a part of speech that modifies verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Examples below.

What is an Adverb?

Definition of Adverb: Most often, adverbs modify verbs. When adverbs modify verbs, they describe the verb, much like an adjective modifies or describes a noun.

Here are a few adverb examples.

  • David quickly walked.

“Quickly” is an adverb modifying the verb, “walked.” This adverb tells how David walked.

  • Amanda sings loudly.

“Loudly” is an adverb modifying the verb, “sings.” This adverb tells how Amanda sings.

Adverbs often, but not always, end in “ly.” These adverbs can usually be formed by adding “ly” to an adjective.

  • strangely (strange + ly)
  • quietly (quiet + ly)
  • joyfully (joyful + ly)

What are Some Adverbs?

What is adverb sentencesThere are thousands of different adverb examples, but here is just a short list of some common ones.

  • Happily (happy + ly)
  • Beautifully (beautiful + ly)
  • Easily (easy + ly)
  • Clearly (clear + ly)
  • Closely (close + ly)
  • Highly (high + ly)
  • Rarely (rare + ly)
  • Softly (soft + ly)
  • Quietly (quiet + ly)
  • Wrongly (wrong + ly)

As you can see, it is very common for adverbs to end in “ly.”

How Adverbs are Used?

whats an adverb meaningIn English, adverbs are used to modify language. They modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.

Here are some adverb examples with each part of speech that they modify.

Examples of Adverbs Modifying Verbs

  • David quickly

“Quickly” is an adverb modifying the verb, “walked.” This adverb tells how David walked.

  • Amanda sings loudly.

“Loudly” is an adverb modifying the verb, “sings.” This adverb tells how Amanda sings.

Examples of Adverbs Modifying Adjectives

  • Kate is a stunningly beautiful girl.

“Stunningly” is an adverb modifying the adjective, “beautiful.” This adverb further describes Kate’s beauty.

  • Tantalizingly delicious chocolate-chip cookies are baking in the oven.

“Tantalizingly” is an adverb modifying the adjective, “delicious.” This adverb further describes how delicious the cookies are.

Examples of Adverbs Modifying Adverbs

  • I nearly always agree with the local newspaper’s position.

“Nearly” is an adverb modifying the adverb “always.” This adverb along with the adverb “always” modifies the extent to which “I” agree with the newspaper.

  • My brother moves quite slowly in the morning.

“Quite” is an adverb modifying the adverb “slowly.” This adverb along with the adverb “slowly” modifies the how my brother moves in the morning.

Different Types of Adverbs

When adverbs modify, they tell when, where, how, and to what extent something occurs.

An easy way to spot an adverb is to ask yourself a question (WHEN? WHERE? HOW? TO WHAT EXTENT?) to see if the adverb fits the answer. See the examples below to see sentences with adverbs that answer each of these questions.

Examples of Adverbs that tell WHEN

  • today
    • I will go to the store today. (WHEN will I go to the store? Today.)
  • soon
    • The milk will soon (WHEN will the milk expire? Soon.)
  • often
    • Sandra works from home often. (WHEN does Sandra work from home? Often.)

Examples of Adverbs that tell WHERE

  • everywhere
    • In the desert at night, stars are visible everywhere. (WHERE are stars visible? Everywhere.)
  • above
    • Above, I saw three flying objects. (WHERE did I see three flying objects? Above.
  • beyond
    • The horizon stretches beyond. (WHERE does the horizon stretch? Beyond.)

Examples of Adverbs that tell HOW (In what manner?)

  • carefully
    • Yvan carefully placed the last puzzle piece. (HOW did Yvan place the last puzzle piece? Carefully.)
  • gratefully
    • Gratefully, the movie star accepted the award. (HOW did the movie star accept the award? Gratefully.)
  • peacefully
    • I left the sermon HOW did I leave the sermon? Peacefully.

Examples of Adverbs that tell TO WHAT EXTENT (How much?)

  • almost
    • The shooter almost missed the target. (TO WHAT EXTENT did the shooter miss the target? Almost.)
  • barely
    • The band barely arrived on time. (TO WHAT EXTENT did the band arrive? Barely.)
  • completely
    • The dance team completely forgot their choreography. (TO WHAT EXTENT did the dance team forget? Completely).

Where Do You Put Adverbs?

examples of adverbWhen adverbs modify verbs, they can shift around the sentence. Shifting the adverb placement creates more interesting sentence structures. Here are a few sentences using adverbs in various positions.

Before the verb:

  • David quickly walks.

After the verb:

  • David walks quickly.

As an opener (This form must have a comma after the adverb.)

  • Quickly, David walks.

When adverbs modify adjectives or other adverbs, they must be placed directly before the word they modify.

Adverb modifying adjective:

  • Kate is a stunningly beautiful girl.
  • (“Stunningly” is an adverb modifying the adjective, “beautiful.”)

Adverb modifying adverb:

  • I nearly always agree with the local newspaper’s position.
  • (“Nearly” is an adverb modifying the adverb “always.”)

What are Comparative and Superlative Adverbs?

adverbs examplesComparative adverbs compare two people, places, or things. They tell the degree or extent to which the two people, places, or things are compared.

Examples of Comparative Adverbs:

  • faster
  • earlier
  • harder
  • happier
  • stronger

For most “short” adverbs, adding “er” to the end of the word will create a comparative adverb.

  • faster (adverb fast + er)
    • Zoey runs faster than Bethany.
  • earlier (adverb early + er)
    • My mom wakes up earlier than my dad.

When an adverb ends in “ly,” the word more or less must be used immediately before the adverb to create the comparison.

  • more efficiently
    • The car runs more efficiently than the truck.
  • more gracefully
    • Bella danced more gracefully than Ina.
  • less impulsively
    • Ana purchased items less impulsively than Aubrey.
  • less creatively
    • Joseph’s presentation was executed less creatively than Tyler’s.

Superlative adverbs compare three or more people, places, or things.

Examples of Superlative Adverbs:

  • fastest
    • Of all the runners, Zoey ran the fastest.
  • earliest
    • My mom rises the earliest in our house.
  • hardest
    • Johnson’s class has many hard-working students, but Samson works the hardest.
  • best
    • Ali is the best player on the team.
  • worst
    • Liver and onions is the worst dish my grandmother prepares.

What are Flat and Simple Adverbs?

examples of adverbsFlat adverbs are adverbs that have the same form as their corresponding adjective. They do not change form when they become adverbs.

Examples of Flat Adverbs:

  • hard
    • They played hard.
  • fast
    • Michelle runs fast.
  • high
    • Steven jumps high

Simple adverbs are adverbs that add “ly” to the end of an adjective to create and adverb.

Examples of simple adverbs:

  • strangely (strange + ly)
  • quietly (quiet + ly)
  • joyfully (joyful + ly)

What are Phrasal Adverbs?

A phrasal adverb (or adverbial phrase) is a group of two or more words functioning as an adverb.

Examples of Phrasal Adverbs

  • at noon
    • At noon we ate lunch.

“At noon” modifies WHEN we ate lunch. WHEN did we eat lunch? At noon.

  • through the field
    • The deer ran through the field.

“Through the field” modifies WHERE the deer ran. WHERE did the deer run? Through the field.

  • in shock
    • In shock I watched the misdemeanor occur.

“In shock” modifies HOW I watched the misdemeanor occur. HOW did I watch the misdemeanor occur? In shock.

Summary

What are adverbs? Adverbs tell us things about actions that are performed. For example, an adverb tells us when, where, how, in what manner, or to what extent an action is performed. They most commonly modify verbs, but they can also modify adjectives or other adverbs.

When: He has pizza yesterday.

Where: He played basketball there.

How: He shouted manically.

In What Manner: She played guitar peacefully.

To What Extent: He totally forgot about his doctor’s appointment.