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Ken Ward's Writing Pages
Writing: Grammar: Parts of Speech
Adverbs

Main Page: Parts of Speech
Page Contents

  1. Adverbs
      1. Adverbs of Manner
      2. Adverbs of Place
      3. Adverbs of Time
      4. Adverbs of Degree
      5. Linking Adverbs (or conjuntival adverbs)
      6. Stance
      7. Adding in Positive and Negative Sentences
      8. Prepositional Adverbs (or Particles)
      9. Phrasal Verbs

Adverbs

An adverb is a word that describes or modifies a verb, an adjective or another adverb. The class adverb is also a home for unwanted words, which do not easily fit into the other categories. Therefore, the words in this class are not a uniform group.

Sometimes adverbs modify pronouns:
Almost everyone gave something. Nearly all of them came.
Naturally, some will argue that these words are adjectives. Of course, they function as adjectives in these sentences. Yet they are quite unlike adjectives in other uses.

Adverbs of Manner

These adverbs tell us how something is done. They answer the question, "How".
quickly, slowly, elegantly, rationally, thoughtfully, clumsily, expertly

For example:
He ran fast. How did he run? The word fast tells us how he ran and is an adverb.
And
He thoughtfully read the book. How did he read the book? thoughtfully tells us how he read the book and is an adverb.

Adverbs of Place

These tell us where the action of the verb happened. They answer the question, "Where?"
here, there, everywhere, above, below

For example:
She went upstairs. Where did she go? And the answer is the adverb, upstairs.

Adverbs of Time

Adverbs of time often answer the question, "When".
These tell us when something happened. They answer the question, "When?"
now, later, yesterday, immediately, generally

For example:
He received the letter yesterday. When did he receive the letter? And the answer is the adverb, yesterday.

Others refer to a period of time:
never, always, just, long

Examples:
She will never do it. Will you be long? I have just done it. We always have to wait.

Still others, sometimes called adverbs of frequency, answer the question, "How often?"
often, seldom, sometimes, never

For example:
He mows the lawn weekly. How often does he mow the lawn? The answer weekly, gives us the adverb.

Adverbs of Degree

These often modify an adjective. They answer the question, "To what extent?"
very, too, slightly, excessively, so, quite, rather

For example:
The horse is too tired.

Linking Adverbs (or conjuntival adverbs)

Linking adverbs link the current sentence to a previous one. They are sometimes called transition words. They differ from conjunctions, which link nouns, phrases or clauses. Unlike a conjunction, linking adverbs can often be omitted without making the sentence ungrammatical.

They include:
hence, afterwards, then, nonetheless, therefore, beforehand

Words which are normally considered conjunctions, such as and, but, for, nor, yet, and or are considered linking adverbs when they begin a sentence. Conjunctions cannot be used to begin a sentence, because they link two words or two clauses, not two sentences. But words which look like conjunctions, when acting as linking adverbs, can be so used. For instance:
She hated cricket. And she hated soccer even more.  r_arrow.gif She hated cricket. She hated soccer even more. 
And is a linking adverb not a conjunction. It, unlike a conjunction, can be omitted without drastically affecting the sentences. Also, unlike a conjunction, it does not link two words or clauses, but links two sentences.

Because they link sentences, not clauses, linking adverbs are always preceded by a full stop or a semicolon. For instance:
Bob does not like sport; hence, he isn't coming to the game. r_arrow.gif Bob does not like sport; he isn't coming to the game.
Or
Bob does not like sport. Hence, he isn't coming to the game. r_arrow.gif Bob does not like sport. He isn't coming to the game.
In the above sentences, we can omit the linking adverb, hence, and the sentences remain grammatical and still make sense. (Of course, we also need to omit the comma, and need to capitalise the first word of the sentence).

Stance

These often show the speakers attitude or emotion and include:
probably, perhaps, surely, oddly, actually, officially, obviously, clearly, wisely, morally, disgustingly

Adding in Positive and Negative Sentences

Some adverbs have the effect of adding or subtracting.
I went fishing. So did Harry.
I went fishing. Harry went too.
I went fishing. Harry went also.
The adverbs so, also and too add some of the meaning of the first sentence in the pairs above to the second one. They have the idea of in addition.
In these sentences:
Teresa did not go. Nor did I. (I, too, did not go.)
Teresa did not go. Neither did I.
Teresa did not go. I didn't either.
The words nor, neither and either also have the idea of in addition (too), and are used in negative expressions.
Words used like this include:
neither, nor, too, so, either, else, also

Prepositional Adverbs (or Particles)

Prepositional adverbs have the word form of a preposition, but function as an adverb, that is they modify verbs, often saying where the action takes place. For example:
All the words in bold above are prepositional adverbs. They differ from prepositions in that they modify a verb (adverbial) and they do not stand before a noun.

Prepositional adverbs are used to form phrasal verbs. When they do this, they change the meaning of the verb. That is, act as an adverb by modifying a verb. For instance:
Phrasal Verbs
Example Alternative
I looked the word up. I looked up the word.
She brought up an interesting point in the meeting. She brought an interesting point up in the meeting.
Oh! Have they fallen out [had a quarrel] again?  (No object)
They have decided to give smoking up. They have decided to give up smoking.
A verb plus prepositional adverb is a phrasal verb only when the verb's meaning changes. Also it is often possible to place the object of the verb (if there is one) between the verb and the prepositional adverb. Phrasal verbs differ from prepositional verbs in the previous mentioned two ways.

See comparison of phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs.

Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are composed of a verb and a prepositional adverb. The prepositional adverb, which has the word form of a preposition, modifies the verb and changes its literal meaning. In addition, the prepositional adverb can be precede the object as a Noun Phrase, or follow it, as in the examples in the table below. If the object is a pronoun, it must come before the particle (prepositional adverb).
Phrasal Verbs
Example Alternative
The lift has broken down. (No object)
She brought up an interesting point in the meeting.
She brought up it in the meeting. x.gif
She brought an interesting point up in the meeting.
She brought it up in the meeting. tick.gif
Oh! Have they fallen out [had a quarrel] again?  (No object)
They have decided to give smoking up.
They have decided to give it up.tick.gif
They have decided to give up smoking.
They have decided to give up it.x.gif
His children are grown up. (No object)
I looked the word up.
I looked it up. tick.gif
I looked up the word.
I looked up it. x.gif
She put the meeting off.
She put it off. tick.gif
She put off the meeting.
She put off it. x.gif
They ran the dog over. They ran over the dog.
We turned off the tv. We turned the tv off.
The phrasal verbs, shown in bold, differ in meaning from the literal form of the verb. They differ from prepositional verbs.

See comparison of phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs.











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