QUIZ YOURSELF ON “THEIR,” “THERE,” AND “THEY’RE”
Origin of adverb
grammar notes for adverb
Simply put, adverbs modify everything that adjectives don’t—including whole sentences! They are a grammatical wastebasket—the part of speech into which you toss anything you can’t otherwise categorize.
The source of bewilderment, then, may not be function but form. We think of adverbs as typically ending in -ly ( badly, quickly, completely ), unlike their adjective counterparts ( bad, quick, complete ). But some adjectives end in -ly ( cowardly lion, motherly affection, friendly persuasion), while some adverbs, called “flat” adverbs, do not (sit up straight, work hard, aim high ). To add to the ambiguity, a small number of words can function as adverbs with or without the classic ending (walk slow on the ice / speak more slowly; hold me close / a closely knit family). Still others shift meaning as they change form (She arrived late. Lately, she’s been doing that). And some are both adjectival and adverbial without changing form ( fast trains, run fast; early morning, wake up early ). No wonder the mind boggles.
Perhaps in response, there has been a resurgence of common adjectives used adverbially (You played amazing. It worked out fantastic. ) Similar flat adverbs, like sudden, extreme, and wondrous, were standard in early Modern English. But in the 18th century, grammar mavens began to disparage them, insisting on the -ly form, and for certain adverbs, that is now the norm. While our language may be shifting back toward increasing use of flat adverbs, an adjective where an adverb is expected may still be subject to criticism. It’s fine to use these newly flattened adverbs with friends, on social media, etc. But traditional cautions apply. It’s probably best to stay with established forms in academic writing, during a job interview, and in other circumstances that call for more formal language. You’re bound to do “great”!
OTHER WORDS FROM adverbad·verb·less, adjective
Example sentences from the Web for adverb
He was too busy riding shotgun on stagecoaches through the Sierras to sit at a desk agonizing over adverbs.
There are the many-claused thickets of adverbs and unlikely similes of writing done on Adderall.
Some adverbs can modify a sentence rather than a verb alone.
Or have House Speaker John Boehner introduce a bill to outlaw adverbs in this campaign, thus rendering Newt mute.
And it is accordingly by adverbs, and accessory adjectives, that the degrees of comparison are expressed.The Indian in his Wigwam|Henry R. Schoolcraft
But I would rather be looney that-a-way than to have as much sense as King Solomon and all his adverbs.Danny's Own Story|Don Marquis
The numerals of the language are converted into adverbs by the inflection ing, making one, once, &c.
In Japanese adverbs are formed by suffixing ni and to, like the English ly and French ment.A Fantasy of Far Japan|Baron Kencho Suyematsu
But excepting a few, the whole class of words, denominated adverbs, can be resolved into other parts of speech.Dissertation on the English Language|Noah Webster, Jr.
British Dictionary definitions for adverb
- a word or group of words that serves to modify a whole sentence, a verb, another adverb, or an adjective; for example, probably, easily, very, and happily respectively in the sentence They could probably easily envy the very happily married couple
- (as modifier)an adverb marker
Word Origin for adverb
Cultural definitions for adverb
A part of speech that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Adverbs usually answer such questions as “How?” “Where?” “When?” or “To what degree?” The following italicized words are adverbs: “He ran well”; “She ran very well”; “The mayor is highly capable.”