Adverbs How, Where and Why
Adding description to your speech or writing can be done in several ways adding adjectives, for instance. However, adverbs also help you add color and description to writing. These parts of speech are similar to adjectives, but they modify verbs, rather than nouns or pronouns. Adverbs answer the questions of who, where, what, how and when.
Adverbs Answer Questions
As mentioned, adverbs are similar in function to adjectives. They modify other parts of speech. Where adjectives modify nouns, adverbs modify verbs for the most part. Heres an example of an adverb in use:
He ran to the store quickly.
In this sentence, the verb is ran. The adverb quickly tells how he ran. Many adverbs can be identified by their ly ending. However, do not fall into the trap of assuming that any word ending in ly is automatically an adverb, because theyre not. Words like quite and more can also be used as adverbs when they modify the verb in a sentence. Heres an example:
I quite liked the book.
Here, quite is modifying the verb liked. Its used as an adverb, but it does not end in ly. There are many other instances of this in the English language, so the best way to determine if a word is an adverb or not is to look at how it is used in the sentence.
Words That Modify Adjectives
The most familiar use for adverbs is to modify a verb. However, they can also modify adjectives. Remember, these are words that answer questions like how, when, where and who, so they can be used in conjunction with adjectives in many instances. For example:
His shoes were very bright orange.
Here, the word very is used to tell how bright orange his shoes were. Rather than being an adjective, it is an adverb. They can also be used to modify other adverbs as well. For instance:
Lisa very quickly sat down at her desk.
In this sentence, very is modifying quickly, another adverb. It tells how quickly Lisa sat.
Adverbial Clauses and Phrases
Like adjectives, adverbs can also have their own clauses and phrases. An adverbial clause contains a subject and verb that are not directly part of the sentence in question. Heres an example:
When he saw the steam, he snatched the pot off the stove.
In this sentence, when he saw the steam operates as an adverbial clause. It tells when he snatched the pot off the stove, but contains its own subject and verb, independent of the rest of the sentence. An adverbial phrase happens when a clause loses its subject and verb. These are often also prepositional phrases, as well. Heres an example:
John ran to the store.
In this sentence, to the store is both a prepositional phrase and an adverbial phrase. It is a string of words without its own subject and verb that answers the question of where John ran.
Adverbs are useful parts of speech, and can be used to provide greater meaning and detail in your writing or speaking. However, they should not be overused.