Adverbs can perform a wide range of functions: they can modify verbs, adjectives, and even other adverbs. They can come either before or after the word they modify. In the following examples, adverbs are in bold, while the words they modify are in italics (the quite handsome man):
- The desk is made of an especially corrosion-resistant industrial steel.
- The power company uses huge generators which are generally turned by steam turbines.
- Jaime won the race, because he ran quickly.
- This fence was installed sloppily. It needs to be redone.
An adverb may provide information about the manner, place, time, frequency, certainty, or other circumstances of the activity indicated by the verb. Some examples, where again the adverb is in bold and the words modified are in italics:
- Suzanne sang loudly (loudly modifies the verb sang, indicating the manner of singing)
- We left it here (here modifies the verb phrase left it, indicating place)
- I worked yesterday (yesterday modifies the verb worked, indicating time)
- He undoubtedly did it (undoubtedly modifies the verb phrase did it, indicating certainty)
- You often make mistakes (often modifies the verb phrase make mistakes, indicating frequency)
They can also modify noun phrases, prepositional phrases, or whole clauses or sentences, as in the following examples. Once again the adverbs are in bold, while the words they modify are in italics.
- I bought only the fruit (only modifies the noun phrase the fruit)
- Roberto drove us almost to the station (almost modifies the prepositional phrase to the station)
- Certainly we need to act (certainly modifies the sentence as a whole)
Identify the adverbs in these paragraphs:
Mass extinctions are insanely catastrophic—but important—events that punctuate the history of life on Earth. The Jurassic/Cretaceous boundary was originally thought of to represent a mass extinction, but has subsequently been “downgraded” to a minor extinction event based on new discoveries.
However, compared to other important stratigraphic boundaries, like the end-Triassic or the end-Cretaceous, the Jurassic/Cretaceous boundary remains really poorly understood.
Identify all the adjectives and adverbs in the sentences below.
- The political radical Emma Goldman dedicated herself to changing an unjust social order.
- Paul Revere rode quickly through Concord and loudly proclaimed, “The British are coming!”
- Bruce Lee’s fast punches and agile footwork made him a living legend in the world of martial arts.
- Quickly, let’s go!
- A pungent smell wafted lazily through the cool night air.