Northcentral University Writing Center
Types of Adverbs

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Writing Center

Adverbs: Types of Adverbs


Adverbs are words that modify:


·         A verb:  He drove slowly. — The Adverb describes how fast he drove.


·         An adjective:  He drove a very fast car. — The Adverb describes the speed of the car.


·         Another adverb:  She moved quite slowly down the aisle. — The Adverb describes how slowly she drove.


Adverbs often tell when, where, why, or under what conditions something happens or has happened. Adverbs frequently end in -ly; however, many words and phrases not ending in -ly serve an adverbial function, and an -ly ending is not a guarantee that a word is an Adverb.


The words lovely, lonely, motherly, friendly, neighborly, for example, are adjectives:


That lovely woman lives in a friendly neighborhood.


Adverbs can modify adjectives, but an adjective cannot modify an adverb. Thus, it is correct to say that "My professor is really tall,” but it is not correct to say "He ran real fast."  The incorrect example uses the adjective, real, to modify the adverb.  To correct this error, replace the adjective with the adverb, really.


Like adjectives, Adverbs can have comparative and superlative forms to indicate degree.


Walk faster if you want to keep up with me.

The student who reads fastest will finish first.


Adverbs often function as intensifiers, conveying a greater or lesser emphasis to something. Intensifiers have three different functions: to emphasize, to amplify, or to deamplify.


Emphasizers:          I really don't believe him.

He literally wrecked his mother's car.

Amplifiers:               The teacher completely rejected her proposal.

I absolutely refuse to attend any more faculty meetings.

Deamplifiers:           I tentatively embrace this method.

His mother mildly disapproved his actions.


For more information on Adverbs, see Adverbs of Context in the Revising the Draft for Style section of the NCU Writing CenterAdditionally, writers are also encouraged to visit the Writing Centers at Colorado, Purdue, and Chapel Hill.