English Grammar Blog
What Is an Adverb and How Are They Used?
The Definition of an Adverb
Adverbs are parts of speech that modify other parts of language, excluding nouns. Adverbs describe adjectives, sentences, clauses, and other adverbs as well. Noun modifiers are basically adjectives and determiners.
Adjectives have the purpose of answering questions, like how, when, and where; and in what manner, and to what degree. The English language has adverbs that mostly end with the suffix “-ly.” The function of answering these aforementioned questions is the adverbial function. It does not just manifest with single words such as adverbs, but also with adverbial clauses and adverbial phrases.
Adverbs as adverbials can be sentence elements. On the other hand, a sentence element can also contain an adverb.
Adverbs in the English Language
Adverbs of manner answer the question “how?” These adverbs are formed, often by appending the suffix “-ly” to adjectives. The adjective “sound” may turn into the adverb “soundly,” and the adjective “rare” turns into the adverb “rarely.” However, remember that some words ending in this suffix are not adverbs, as the root words of these supposed adverbs are actually nouns. For example, “-ly” at the end of words like lovely and friendly does not make these words adverbs. Some adjectives are underived, such as “silly” and “holy,” which also end in the same “-ly” suffix.
Sometimes, the suffix “-wise” may be utilized to create adverbs with nouns. In the history of the English language, the suffixes “-wise” and “-ways” used to be equally widespread, with examples such as “clockwise” and “sideways.”. In time, the first suffix gained more use. These suffixes are not a sure way of identifying a word as an adverb. Adverbs can also be made by attaching the “a-“ prefix to some nouns or adjectives, like in “astray” or “abreast.” Various English language suffixes also form adverbs from other classes of words, while some adverbs cannot be defined simply by scrutinizing their form.
The “positive” is the typical form that pertains to adverbs or adjectives. In formal use, English adverbs are nuanced by comparison, as is similar with adjectives. Superlative and comparative forms of most adverbs with single syllables which do not end in the suffix “-ly” are created with the suffixes “-er” and “-est.” Popular examples for this include “high” (which becomes “highly”), and “fast” (which becomes “faster”). Adverbs also show comparison, with examples like as, more, least, less, and most.
- What Is an Adjective and How Are They Used?
- What Is a Noun and How Are They Used?
- The Use of Hyphenation
- Online Grammar Resources
- Improve Your Writing by Simplifying Your Sentences