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ESL Lesson: Types of Adverbs

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There are several types of adverb:

manner - place - time - frequency - degree.

There are different places where you can put the adverb.

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ADVERBS OF MANNER - these answer the question how?

This adverb usually comes after the direct object or if there is no direct object, after the verb:

She speaks Italian beautifully.
He works well.
You must drive your car carefully.
Eat quietly.

ADVERBS OF PLACE - these answer the question where?

This adverb usually comes after the object, otherwise after the verb:

We saw you there.
We were sitting here.
We looked everywhere.

Note: somewhere, anywhere, follow the same rules as some and any:

Have you seen my glasses anywhere?
I''m sure I left them somewhere.
I can''t find them anywhere.

ADVERBS OF TIME - these answer the question when?

This adverb usually comes either at the very beginning of the sentence or at the end.

Afterwards we decided to go by car. I''ve done that journey before.

Note: yet and still: yet should be placed at the end of the sentence.

Still should be placed before the verb, except with the verb ''to be'' when it comes after.

We haven''t started yet.
He still wears old-fashioned clothes.
She is still a student.

Compare these two sentences:

The train still hasn''t arrived.
The train hasn''t arrived yet.

ADVERBS OF FREQUENCY - these answer the question how many times?

This adverb comes after the verb ''to be'':

She is always honest.

Comes before simple tenses of all other verbs:

They sometimes spend the whole of Saturday fishing.

Comes after the first auxiliary in a tense consisting of more than one verb:

I have often wondered how they did that.
I can sometimes go without food for days.

Note: with ''used to'' and ''have'' the frequency adverb is usually placed in front:

We always used to look forward to the school holidays.
He never has any trouble with his old car.

ADVERBS OF DEGREE - these answer the question to what extent?

This adverb can modify an adverb or an adjective and comes before the word it modifies:

The bottle is almost full, nearly empty.
They should be able to pass their exams quite easily.

The following adverbs of degree can also modify verbs:

almost, nearly, quite, hardly, scarcely, barely, just

They follow the same pattern as frequency adverbs in terms of where they are placed:

I quite understand.
We had almost reached the hut when the rain started.
I am just beginning a new course.


If you begin a sentence with one of the following, the normal word order changes - the verb comes first followed by the subject:

never, seldom, scarcely ..... when, no sooner ..... than, nowhere, in no circumstances, on no account, only then, not only

Seldom has one century seen so many changes.
No sooner did we hear the results than there was a knock at the door.
Never would I be persuaded to buy a secondhand car.

Usual word order with different adverbs: MANNER PLACE TIME

She sang beautifully in the concert hall last night.

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Next:ESL Lesson: Usage of Adverbs

Author: Alan Townend

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