Adverbs - What can they do?

Adverbs.   This part of speech can be any of the following:

  • verb modifier
  • adjective modifier
  • adverb modifier


Introduction

Three functions - This part of speech has several functions:  It can modify three different parts of speech.

It can be

  • A word that modifies (or describes) a verb
  • A word that modifies (or describes) an adjective
  • A word that modifies (or describes) another adverb

(The two words "modifies" and "describes" are used here to mean the same thing.)



A modifier can be a single word or it can be a phrase.

A phrase begins with a preposition and ends with a noun.






First - a verb modifier

You need to know what a verb is first.  A verb is the name of an action – run, jump, sing.

Generally, you can find this verb modifier by asking these questions after the verb. 

  • How?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Why?



This verb modifier describes the verb:

  • John runs quickly.  
  • John runs how?  Quickly.


This verb modifier can be a single word or a group of words.  The group of words is generally called a phrase.

Definition - A phrase is a group of words that begins with a preposition and ends with a noun or pronoun.  Some examples are:  into the house, above the garage, behind the shed

  • John runs after school.
  • John runs when?
  • John runs to the store.
  • John runs where?
  • John runs to keep fit.
  • John runs why?


The verb modifiers above are all in italics.

The verb modifiers above are all phrases as well.  They begin with a preposition and end with a noun.

Note that they all answer a question after the verb. 


Second - an adjective modifier

Quick review of adjectives

If you remember from the discussion of adjectives, phrases can also be adjectives:

The girl with the long ponytail is in my class. 

In the sentence above, the phrase “with the long ponytail” modifies or describes the noun “girl” and is, therefore, an adjective phrase. 


When a phrase modifies an noun, it is called an adjective phrase. 




When a word or phrase modifies an adjective, it is an adverb.


  • Doris is a slim young lady.

Above, “slim” is an adjective modifying the noun “lady.”

  • Doris is a very slim young lady.

Above, “very” modifies the adjective “slim.”  So what part of speech is very?

  • Jennie is enthusiastic about learning something new.

Above, “enthusiastic” is an adjective that modifies the subject “Jennie.”

  • Jennie is extremely enthusiastic about learning something new. 

Above, “extremely” modifies the adjective “enthusiastic.”  So what part of speech is extremely?


Third - an adverb modifier

When a word or phrase modifies an adverb, it is also an adverb.


  • John runs quickly. 

Above, “quickly” modifies “runs.”  What part of speech is "quickly"?

  • John runs very quickly when he practises.

Above, “very”  modifies “quickly.”  So what part of speech is "very"?

Find the correct answers below

Find the adverbs below - yes or no?

  1. The dog with the red collar ran away yesterday.
  2. The soccer ball with the hole was repaired by my father.
  3. The house with the balcony was rented for the season.


Critique:

  1. The single word “away” answers “where?” after the verb.  Yes.
  2. The single word “yesterday” answers “when?” after the verb.  Yes.
  3. The phrase “for the season” answers the question “how?” or “when?” after the verb.  Yes.


Review

  • This part of speech describes a verb.  It can be a single word or a phrase.
  • This part of speech can also modify or describe an adjective or another adverb.  
  • A phrase begins with a preposition and ends with a noun.



Test yourself.  Can you find this part of speech below?

  1. Johnny is the best runner in the school.
  2. Sally enjoyed the concert immensely.
  3. Ronald joined the soccer team yesterday.
  4. Ralph opened the jar with ease.
  5. The spotted dog sits quietly in the back seat of the automobile while his owner is locking the house.


Answers:


(1) None

(2) “immensely” – modifies the verb “enjoyed” – enjoyed how?

(3) “yesterday” – modifies the verb “joined” – joined when?

(4) “with ease” – modifies the verb “opened” – opened how?

(5) “quietly” – modifies the verb “sits” – sits how?
(5) “in the back seat” – modifies the verb “sits” – sits where?


Modifiers that can be helpful in business writing

If you want a list of modifiers that would be effective in a business situation, you might use:

  • effectively
  • efficiently
  • honestly
  • productively
  • profitably
  • energetically
  • accurately

Any modifiers of this type would be very useful in a business situation.

Click this link to find an excellent course on business writing.

Click here to learn more.

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