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English Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Word Class: Adverbs

The adverb belongs to a word class that can modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs - in fact, anything except nouns.

This is something of a ragbag category because it contains words that behave quite differently from one another yet are still classified as adverbs.

There are adverbs that tell us how something is done. These are called adverbs of manner.

  • He ate his apple noisily.
  • She wrote the letter slowly.

You can add "-ly" to the end of many adjectives and turn them into adverbs.

Adjective Adverb
quick quickly
careful carefully
slow slowly
beautiful beautifully
  • Adverbs can also answer the question: when? These are called adverbs of time.
    He did it yesterday.
    Tomorrow I'll clean the window.
  • Adverbs can answer the question: where? These are called adverbs of place.
    I left the book here.
    Outside the rain was pouring down.
    The confetti was everywhere.
  • Sentences can have more than one adverb.
    Yesterday the band played loudly outside here.
  • Adverbs can go in more than one position in a sentence.
    Slowly she wrote the letter. She slowly wrote the letter. She wrote the letter slowly.

Non-English speakers often put the adverb in a slot where it is not permitted in English.

She wrote slowly the letter.

When five-year-old children extend their written work in response to a teacher's questions, they usually add adverbs.

I went to Te Anau. Yesterday I went to Te Anau.

Summary of Terms

adverb adverb of manner
adverb of time adverb of place

Exploring language content page

Exploring Language is reproduced by permission of the publishers Learning Media Limited on behalf of Ministry of Education, P O Box 3293, Wellington, New Zealand, © Crown, 1996.

Published on: 25 Feb 2009




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