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Concourse 2

Adverbs: the essentials

adverbs 

Adverbs are deceptively simple.


define

Definition

An adverb is usually defined as something like

a word which modifies a verb, an adjective or another adverb

Can you identify the adverbs in these examples?

  1. He came to the door quickly and I was soon enthusiastically welcomed.
  2. She frequently complains at length about things she thinks are really stupid.
  3. Please arrive early and put the food there.
  4. Wait outside until you are called.
  5. I can't go now but I'll go soon.

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It's fairly clear (the clue's in the name) that adverbs modify verbs.  What are they doing in these examples?

  1. He opened the box carefully.
  2. He is completely against the idea.
  3. That's a wonderfully simple solution.
  4. She speaks extremely intelligently.

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position

Adverb position

One of the most vexing phenomena for learners of English is that adverbs are placed in sentences in a rather complicated manner.  Look at the example sentences in this table and see if you can figure out some rules.  Sentences which are considered wrong are marked with '*'.  Then click on the table for some suggestions.

adverb placement 1

Look again at the examples.  There is one position where adverbs can never appear in English.  What is it?
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Related guide
adverbs for a more advanced guide to this area which also considers the difference between adverbs and adverbials