This week on Grammar Grater, weâ€™re talking about adverbs. According to the Gregg Reference Manual, an adverb can modify a verb:
We closed the door quietly. (Quietly modifies the verb closed.)
An adverb can modify an adjective:
This ice cream is really good! (Really modifies the adjective good.)
An adverb can even modify another adverb:
My job interview went extremely well. (Extremely modifies the adverb well.)
An adverb is a word that answers: when, where, why, in what manner or to what extent. Gordon Jarvie, in the Bloomsbury Grammar Guide, explains the ways adverbs do this. He says adverbs of time answer when:
We left work later.
But we all went out to eat afterwards.
Adverbs of place answer where:
Hey â€“ my book was there a moment ago.
Oh, wait â€“ I think I saw it downstairs.
Adverbs of manner tell us how something happened. Jarvie tells us these words often end in the suffix â€“ly.
The suffix -ly isnâ€™t the only suffix applied to adverbs of manner. There are others:
-ways, as in sideways
-wise, as in clockwise
-wards, as in forwards and backwards
-style, as in 1960s-style
Adverbs of degree, probability, frequency and duration answer to what extent.
I definitely saw him the other day.
The taxi driver will probably know the best route.
I will never forget my last birthday party.
Is it still raining?
Jarvie says adverbs can be very mobile. They can go in the beginning, middle or end of a sentence. Look at how the word suddenly can appear in different places in these sentences:
Suddenly, I heard a noise upstairs.
I was suddenly aware of a noise.
The silence was disturbed quite suddenly.
So when youâ€™re examining a sentence and youâ€™re struggling to determine the part of speech of a particular word or phrase, ask yourself if that word or phrase answers: when, where, why, in what manner or to what extent. If so, odds are good youâ€™ve discovered an adverb.