girl waiting for train signifying adverbs

Adverbs

Introduction

Read through the following passage and pay close attention to the adverbs which are in bold.

She is an incredibly talented dancer. Wearing a pale white dress, she glided gracefully and elegantly across the stage and immediately mesmerised the audience. I was most impressed by her fantastic pirouettes. Sadly, the wonderful performance ended too soon.

When teachers introduce adverbs to younger pupils, they might say adverbs describe verbs and are easy to spot because the words end in “ly”. Many of the adverbs in the sentences above, such as “incredibly”, “elegantly” and “sadly”, are obvious because they seem to follow this rule.

However, “pale”, “most” and “too” are not so easy to identify. In this example, “pale” describes the adjective “white” and “too” modifies another adverb “soon”. Neither of them end in “ly”. Therefore, we also need to know that adverbs can modify an adjective or even a whole sentence! And not all adverbs are regular and end in “ly”.

So, what is an adverb? Perhaps, this definition is a little more precise: adverbs refer to any word or phrase which describes a verb, adjective, another adverb, or an entire sentence. Once you have completed the exercises, there are suggested answers so you can check your responses.

Exercise One

Write out the following paragraph in your notebooks and underline the adverbs. This task is a little tricky so you should also circle the word or phrase being modified by the adverb.

I carefully turned the iron key. Fortunately, the door opened slowly and without a sound. I stepped into the half-darkness and, ignoring the ghastly smell, immediately moved down the dimly lit hall towards the stairs. I quickly reached for the banister. It felt slimy and cold. When I climbed the stairs, each tread moan loudly. It was truly terrifying, but I soon reached the top.

Exercise Two

Add an appropriate adverb to the following sentences. Remember to write out the sentences in full and try your best to use a different adverb for each question.

  1. Everything happened so __________ .
  2. It was a __________ good book.
  3. I walked __________ to school.
  4. The car screeched __________ around the corner.
  5. __________ , the rain stopped and we were able to play in the park.
  6. The pupil __________ wrote the answer in her book.
  7. I placed the expensive watch __________ back into its display case.
  8. “Where are you going __________ ?” asked my mother.
  9. My phone was buzzing __________ this morning.
  10. The living room was __________ messy.
  11. The dog waits __________ to be feed.
  12. Adverbs are _________ confusing.
  13. They crept _________ down the stairs.
  14. She laughed __________ at the terrible joke.
  15. The car was a __________ red colour.

Exercise Three

The adverbs have been highlighted in bold in the following sentences. For each example, identify the word(s) the adverb is modifying and then explain what that description adds to the meaning of the image.

I exercised earlier, running uphill and then thoroughly enjoying the easier descent. It is a much tougher experience in winter when the wind blows hard against your skin, but I need to keep working on my fitness levels. Thankfully, each session is getting somewhat easier.

For example, the adverb “earlier” is modifying the verb “exercised”. The adverb informs the reader when the exercise took place.

Suggested Answers

I carefully turned the iron key. Fortunately, the door opened slowly and without a sound. I stepped into the half-darkness and, ignoring the ghastly smell, immediately moved down the dimly lit hall towards the stairs. I quickly reached for the banister. It felt slimy and cold. When I climbed the stairs, each tread moan loudly. It was truly terrifying, but I soon reached the top.

  1. Everything happened so quickly.
  2. It was a really good book.
  3. I walked slowly to school.
  4. The car screeched loudly around the corner.
  5. Luckily, the rain stopped and we were able to play in the park.
  6. The pupil casually wrote the answer in her book.
  7. I placed the expensive watch carefully back into its display case.
  8. “Where are you going now?” asked my mother.
  9. My phone was buzzing constantly this morning.
  10. The living room was incredibly messy.
  11. The dog waits patiently to be feed.
  12. Adverbs are terribly confusing.
  13. They crept quietly down the stairs.
  14. She laughed uncontrollably at the terrible joke.
  15. The car was a bright red colour.

Remember, these are only suggested answers so you need to consider if your own responses are appropriate.

The first adverb “earlier” is modifying the verb “exercised”. The adverb informs the reader when the exercise took place. The adverb “uphill” describes the direction or gradient of the runner and “thoroughly” suggests the really enjoyed going down the hill. The adverb “much” emphasises the adjective “tougher” and “hard” suggests the “wind” is harsh. The adverb “thankfully” modifies the last sentence and conveys the speaker’s relief they are getting fitter. Finally, “somewhat” suggests the exercise is getting a little “easier” each time.

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Thanks for reading!