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A Basic Introduction to Adverbs

May 23rd, 2008

In the English language, adverbs are words that are used to enhance verbs and other parts of a sentence, excluding nouns. As with prepositions and pronouns, you’ll need to be careful about how you use adverbs. When used properly, they can make your sentences exciting and give them a comfortable pace. Unfortunately, when used incorrectly, they can make your sentence drag, or even appear repetitive. If you’re new to reading and writing in English, you may not be immediately aware of how adverbs affect your sentence structure. As you continue to practice, this is one area where you can look to improve or change your communication style.

Using Adverbs to Enhance Verbs

In many sentences, you’ll want to describe how an individual performed a specific action. This may include conveying how much time it took, the quality of the performance, and so on. For example, you might start out with the sentence “Bob ran to the corner”. You can use any number of adverbs to convey how Bob ran. You could say “Bob quickly ran to the corner”, or “Bob easily ran to the corner”. In the first sentence, “quickly” conveys a sense that Bob could have moved much more slowly. While you may also think that the second sentence conveys the same meaning, consider that “easily” is more likely to mean Bob ran without encountering some difficulty, even if he didn’t go quickly.

Finding Adverbs in a Sentence

There are an infinite number of words that can be used as adverbs. While it isn’t always easy to determine where adverbs are in a sentence, it’s important to try and sort out what these kinds of words are enhancing. In some cases, you can find them just before or just after a verb. You may also find adverbs by looking for words that end in “ly”. Learning to identify these words quickly will help clarify your own spoken and written English.

Avoiding Repetitious Sounds When Using Adverbs

Even though there are many kinds of adverbs in the English language, they can have similar endings. Using too many of them in a sentence or paragraph can make your sentence lag, so it’s important to use them with care. As a general rule of thumb, unless you need to convey some aspect of a verb that’s beyond an ordinary standard, it’s best not to use adverbs. However, if you want to use them to increase your expression, try to find ones that have a different ending or beginning sound.

As you might expect, every language has adverbs and rules for determining how they are used. In English, you can find them in almost any part of a sentence. In some cases, they may even be used to enhance words other than verbs. Perhaps it can be said that when trying to learn how to work with adverbs, it’s best to listen and read as much as possible in English, in order to get a feel for good quality adverb usage, rather than following stringent grammar rules.