Adverbs are used to modify adjectives, verbs, or other adverbs. They add more information by answering questions like: how? where? when? and how often? Let’s look at some examples:
- He walks slowly.— How does he walk? slowly
- I wake up really early. — When do you wake up? really early
Adverbs are generally formed by adding an -ly suffix to an adjective.
- Beautiful— beautifully
- Quick— quickly
- Loud— loudly
As with so many grammar concepts in English, there are some exceptions to this rule:
Adjectives ending with -ic must have -ically added to them.
- Economic- economically
- Forensic- forensically
Adjectives ending with -y must have -ily added to them.
Most students learn these rules fairly quickly, as the regular -ly suffix is difficult to pronounce.
Pay special attention to the irregular adverb forms. The most common pair is ‘good’ and ‘well’- an adjective and adverb pair that even confuses native speakers!
All you really need to know is that ‘good’ is an adjective, while ‘well’ is an adverb. You can test whether ‘good’ or ‘well’ is correct in a given context by replacing it another adjective or adverb, respectively.
- Is it “you paint well”, or “you paint good?”
Let’s replace ‘well’ with another adverb:
- You paint quickly.
Seems grammatical to me!
Now, let’s replace ‘good’ with another adjective:
- *You paint quick.
Looks like an out-of-place adjective!
Here are some other confusing irregular forms:
|Late||Late ***not lately—different word|
|Hard||Hard ***not hardly—different word|
Simply memorize that ‘fast’ and ‘straight’ have identical adjective and adverb forms.
‘Late’ and ‘lately’, on the other hand, are completely different words!
- He has been calling me everyday lately. (He has been calling me everyday recently.)
- He came to work late. (He was tardy.)
‘Hard’ and ‘hardly’ also have completely different meanings!
- This meat is hard. (This steak is too hard to cut through.)
- This meat is hardly cooked. (This steak has not been cooked long enough.)