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What is an Adverb? Examples, Definition & Uses


An adverb is a word that modifies (describes) the meaning of a verb, an adjective, a sentence, or another adverb. Most adverbs end with “ly,” such as quickly, badly, and emotionally. However, some adverbs, such as very, don’t end with “ly” and look similar to adjectives.

Adverb Examples:

  • He runs quickly.

  • She is very lucky.

  • The doctor was able to save her life, luckily.

  • Adam ate somewhat greedily.

These are a few examples of adverbs. Different types of adverbs exist according to what they can describe or modify. Let’s take a look:

Four Uses of Adverbs

An adverb can be used to modify:

  • a verb,

  • an adjective,

  • a sentence; and

  • another adverb.

Based on these four uses of adverbs, we can classify their usage as:

  • Adverbs for verbs

  • Adverbs for adjectives

  • Adverbs for sentences

  • Adverbs for adverbs

Let’s take a closer look at these four uses of adverbs separately:

1. Adverbs for Verbs

An adverb can modify a verb.

In this case, an adverb describes how the action described by the verb is being performed.

For instance, the adverb quickly in the sentence “He runs quickly” is describing “how” the person is running.

While a verb describes “what” action is being performed by an entity, an adverb adds a detail that describes the nature of the action being done. In other words, an adverb for a verb modifies the meaning of a verb.

So, in the sentence “He runs quickly” the adverb quickly describes that the running of the person is quick/fast.

Adverbs in a sentence, answer questions of “how,” “when,” “where,” “how often,” and “to what extent” an action is performed. (more on this later)


In the following examples, adverbs are shown in bold and the verbs they modify are shown in italics.

  • She breathed deeply.

  • Mark made an announcement hastily.

  • They were protesting calmly and daily.

  • An uncontrolled truck charged forcefully into our bakery.

Although adverbs for verbs are easy to identify, linking verbs can confuse people.

Adverb for Linking Verbs

We know that adverbs can modify verbs, but not all kinds of verbs.

Linking verbs — unlike regular verbs — are words that don’t describe an action. Rather, they describe the state of a subject, which is usually a noun or pronoun.

And because linking verbs don’t describe actions, adverbs typically don’t modify them.

For instance:

  • Anna feels happily about her new dress. (incorrect ❌)

Where feels is a linking verb and happily is an adverb.

What linking verbs do is that they describe a subject and link it to a subject complement, which is the modifier that comes after the verb, and is supposed to be a predicate noun or adjective.

When we use an adverb modifier after a linking verb, we are linking the subject (noun or pronoun) with the adverb. In other words, we are making the adverb describe a subject.

But an adverb cannot describe a subject (noun or pronoun), it can only describe a verb. An adjective is the one that describes a subject.

Therefore, we use an adjective modifier after a linking verb, and not an adverb.

So, the sentence “Anna feels happily about her new dress,” would translate to “Anna is happy to feel (how she feels) about her new dress,” and not “Anna feels joyful about her new dress,” which is the intended meaning.

So, for correction, we would replace the adverb happily with its adjective counterpart happy.

  • Anna feels happy about her new dress. (correct ✔️)

However, if an adverb describes the linking verb instead of the subject, then it is fine.

  • Anna gradually felt happy about her new dress. (correct ✔️)

  • George deliberately appeared tired. (correct ✔️)


Below are some examples of incorrect usage of adverbs with linking verbs:

  • The cat is happily in the new house.

  • She sounds sadly.

  • She appeared fabulously on the stage.

  • The news proved truly.

2. Adverbs for Adjectives

Some adverbs can modify adjectives.

When an adverb describes an adjective, it adds a detail to its meaning and amplifies it in some way.


In the following examples, adverbs are shown in bold and the adjectives they modify are shown in italics.

  • This chili is too hot.

  • My mother made me a very delicious pancake.

  • His uncle is a bit cynical.

  • Their habits are consistently bad.

3. Adverbs for Sentences

Certain adverbs can modify entire sentences, and are called sentence adverbs.

These adverbs usually occur either at the beginning or at the end of a sentence or clause, and are usually followed or preceded by commas.

Instead of describing a specific element of a sentence, sentence adverbs describe an overall sentence; These adverbs can describe how the author perceives the information given in a sentence.


  • Honestly, I find it unfair.

  • Usually, I visit the cafeteria at this time but not today.

  • Hopefully, they will get to meet each other.

  • I get tired by the evening mostly.

Sentence adverbs can also be used in the middle of a sentence for emphasis, but this is uncommon.

  • He, comically, believed the lies he was fed.

  • She said it on his face, surprisingly, even when he was in tears.

4. Adverbs for Adverbs

The fourth and last usage of adverbs is modifying other adverbs.

Some adverbs can be used to describe the meaning of other adverbs that are describing other elements of the sentence.


In the following examples, the adverbs are shown in bold and the adverbs they modify are shown in italics:

  • It rained a bit too heavy today.

  • The last section of the exam seemed almost intentionally tough.

  • The donkey shrieked terribly loudly.

  • The student acted barely carefully, provoking the teacher’s wrath.

Be careful not to overuse adverbs to modify other adverbs. Using too many adverbs altogether results in verbose sentences.

  • The boy worked almost always too slowly.

Though such sentences are grammatically correct, they are ineffective at communicating.

Things to Keep in Mind when Using Adverbs

Using adverbs to describe or emphasize the meaning of verbs, adjectives or even adverbs can be inevitable. However, remember that an adverb may not always be the best choice for emphasis. Sometimes, it’s better to use stronger verbs and adjectives, which makes the language concise and helps avoid redundancy.

If you find it challenging to correct your adverb-related mistakes, Paraphrasing-Tool.ai’s Grammar Checker is here to help. Our grammar checker tool can easily identify and correct all your grammatical mistakes in a few clicks.


Adverbs are words that can modify verbs, adjectives, sentences, and other adverbs. Most adverbs end with “ly,” except some that look exactly like adjectives. Using too many adverbs in a sentence is not considered a good writing practice, instead, using strong verbs and adjectives is recommended.

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