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Adverbs

Adverbs are used to describe actions. They may come before or after a verb, but not between a verb and its object.

  • Mrs. Jenner softly sang. (Most common word order.)
  • Mrs. Jenner softly sang. (Also possible.)
  • Mrs. Jenner softly sang a lullaby.
  • Mrs. Jenner sang a lullaby softly.
  • Mrs. Jenner sang softly a lullaby. (Not correct.)

Adverbs may come between a main verb and its auxiliaries.

  • Mrs. Jenner is softly singing a lullaby.
  • Mrs. Jenner softly is singing a lullaby. (Not correct.)
  • Mrs. Jenner has been softly singing that lullaby for a long time.

Some time and frequency adverbs are “movable.” That is, they can be placed at various points in a sentence.

  • Yesterday I visited the dentist.
  • I visited the dentist yesterday.
  • Jack Prompt is here already.
  • Jack Prompt is already here.

Caution: Even though some adverbs can be used in certain sentence positions, others can not.

  • I yesterday visited the dentist. (Not okay.)
  • I already visited the dentist. (Okay.)
  • Already I visited the dentist. (Not okay.)

Adverbs such as quiteveryreallyextremely, and absolutely are used to modify adjectives and other adverbs.

  • They come directly before the words they describe.
  • Greg is quite happy with his new boss.
  • Sue eats very slowly.
  • You’re absolutely right!

Many adverbs can be formed by adding –ly to adjectives:

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