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What is an Adverb?

adverb (noun): a word that modifies a verb, an adjective or another adverb, expressing manner, place, time or degree; a word that can modify a phrase, clause or sentence

An adverb is a word that tells us more about a verb. It "qualifies" or "modifies" a verb (The man ran quickly). In the following examples, the adverb is in bold and the verb that it modifies is in italics.

  • John speaks loudly. (How does John speak?)
  • Afterwards she smoked a cigarette. (When did she smoke?)
  • Mary lives locally. (Where does Mary live?)

But adverbs can also modify adjectives (Tara is really beautiful), or even other adverbs (It works very well). Look at these examples:

  • Modify an adjective:
    - He is really handsome. (How handsome is he?)
    - That was extremely kind of you.
  • Modify another adverb:
    - She drives incredibly slowly. (How slowly does she drive?)
    - He drives extremely fast.
Note that adverbs have other functions, too. They can:
  • Modify a whole sentence: Obviously, I can't know everything.
  • Modify a prepositional phrase: It's immediately inside the door.