Origin of adverb
Related formsad·verb·less, adjective
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”!
Examples from the Web for 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.
Adverbs may be classified in two ways: according to the meaning of the words; according to their use in the sentence.
Side by side with these inflected forms are found comparative and superlative expressions making use of the adverbs more and most.
There are some adverbs which scarcely fall into any of the above classes and cannot be said to answer any of these questions.Plain English|Marian Wharton
To the extent that adverbs are found as incorporated particles in verbs, the two parts of speech are undifferentiated.On the Evolution of Language|John Wesley Powell
This indicates the division of adverbs into simple and complex.A Handbook of the English Language|Robert Gordon Latham
British Dictionary definitions for adverbs
- 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
Culture definitions for adverbs
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.”