How to use adverbs correctly

When writing or speaking English, either in formal or informal settings, we need to use adverbs correctly to add colour and depth to our language use. This post explores the function of adverbs, where they can be placed in our sentences and the types of adverbs that feature in the English language. Examples are given as a guide to ensure correct and effective usage.

What are adverbs?

How to use adverbs correctly

Adverbs are words that tell us more about the verbs or adjectives that they modify. For example, if she drives, then how does she drive? What does she drive?

  • She drives slowly.
  • She drives quickly.
  • She drives safely.
  • She drives once a week.
  • She drives a really unusual car.

In what positions can we use adverbs correctly?

There are three positions where adverbs can be placed in a sentence: the front, mid and final positions.

  • Suddenly, the rain started to fall. (front position)
  • The rain suddenly started to fall. (mid position)
  • The rain started to fall suddenly. (final position)

Types of adverbs:

1. -ly adverbs of manner:

  • Carefully, the patient entered the doctor’s office. (front position)
  • The patient carefully entered the doctor’s office. (mid position)
  • The patient entered the doctor’s office carefully. (final position)

2. -ly adverbs of frequency:

  • The rubbish is collected weekly. I check my emails daily. (final position)

3. Non -ly adverbial phrases of frequency:

  • Once a week we go to the cinema. (front position)
  • We go to the cinema twice a month. (final position)

4. Connecting adverbs:

  • …….. However, this is one of the cheapest properties in the area. (front position)
  • …….. This is one of the cheapest properties in the area, however. (final position)

5. Focusing adverbs:

  • This film is so boring. We have just finished decorating the house. (mid position)

6. Adverbs of frequency:

  • They always arrive to dinner parties on time. We sometimes go camping in the summer holidays. (mid position)

It can be seen that in order to use adverbs correctly we must simply understand the different types of adverbs (see 1-6 above), and then make sure that they are placed in one of their acceptable positions within the sentence. The most effective way to ensure that we use adverbs correctly is to practise, and refer to guidelines for usage such as those presented in this this guide.