Grammar Name Date Adverbs An adverb is similar to an adjective in that it is a modifier. The difference is that whereas adjectives modify, or help describe, nouns or pronouns, adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. An adverb is a word that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. It answers the questions Where? When? How? How often? and To what extent? By using adverbs, you can give a verb, an adjective, or an adverb a more definite meaning. Adverbs give us a more complete picture of something in our heads. For example, ! The center dunked the ball forcefully. The adverb forcefully modifies the verb dunked and gives us a better idea of how the ball was dunked. ! A hummingbird has an extremely small brain. The adverb extremely modifies the adjective small and gives us an idea of exactly how small the brain of a hummingbird is. ! The snake appeared so suddenly that she was unable to scream. The adverb so modifies the adverb suddenly, which in turn modifies the verb appeared. We now know how the snake appeared (suddenly), and exactly how suddenly (so suddenly). Here are a few suggestions on how to locate adverbs and how to determine what word(s) they modify. • First, you already know what nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verbs look like. If the word is not a person, place, thing, or idea; if the word is not a small word that takes the place of a noun(s) or another pronoun(s); if the word does not express action or a state of being; if the word does not describe a noun or a pronoun; if the word is not any of these, it could be an adverb. • Does the word answer any of the following questions: a. Where? In other words, does the word describe where something takes place? Example: Bring that book here. The adverb here modifies the verb Bring because it answers the question, “Where should I bring the book?” b. When? In other words, does the word describe when something happens? Example: Then I tripped and fell down the stairs. The adverb Then modifies the verb tripped because it answers the question, “When did you trip and fall?” c. How? In other words, does the word describe the way something is done? Example: She secretly removed the ring from its safety deposit box. The adverb secretly modifies the verb removed because it answers the question, “How did she remove the ring?” d. How Often? In other words, does the word describe a degree of frequency that something occurs? Example: My uncle seldom goes out to eat. The adverb seldom modifies the verb goes because it answers the question, “How often does your uncle go out to eat?” e. To What Extent? In other words, does the word describe a degree of completion or a state of intensity? Example #1: The weather yesterday was very rainy. The adverb very modifies the adjective rainy because it answers the question, “To what extent was it rainy?” Example #2: I did not practice my free throws this week. The adverb not modifies the verb phrase did practice because it answers the question, “To what extent did you practice?” • Many adverbs end in the suffix –ly. These words have been formed by adding –ly to adjectives. For example, slow becomes slowly; angry becomes angrily; comfortable becomes comfortably. This is not to say that all words that end in –ly are adverbs, nor is it true that all adjectives can be changed to adverbs by adding –ly. Still, an –ly ending should be a signal to you to consider whether or not that word is an adverb. As Lolly says, it’s the “special –ly attachment.” • The word can only help describe a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. If it does not do this, it simply can’t be an adverb.
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