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Lesson 1.8 Adverbs

downloadable worksheet


Adverbs are an elusive category – they’re a bit difficult to define, both in terms of their meaning and their morphology and syntax. But they’re easy to use!


Generally, adverbs modify, or give extra information about verbs, and they describe manner, time, attitude of the speaker, possibility, or focus certain parts of the sentence.


            The kids all ran quickly/slowly. (manner)

            My mom runs often/occasionally/. (time)

            Your friends will fortunately/hopefully meet you at the airport. (attitude)

            We will probably/possibly/maybe be late for school. (possibility)


They sometimes end in -ly, but not always. They can have no suffix or suffixes other than -ly, including -wise, -like, -ward(s), and -ways.


            We are eating fast.

            They ran too slow.           

            He wrote on the page sideways.

            She walked backwards in the playground.

            The baby crawled crablike across the floor.


Note that some adverbs have the same form as their related adjectives, which can be a bit tricky when trying to label them. Adjectives, however, do not modify verbs; only adverbs do.


                  adverb                                                      adjective

            We ran hard in the race.                        The hard race was almost over.

            Be safe!                                                        She is a very safe driver.


(Adjectives don’t modify verbs, but they can be complements of verbs, meaning that the adjective is not just extra information, but is needed to “complete” the meaning of the sentence: She seems tired.)


Although the examples above with hard and safe are just fine for everyone, other suffixless adverbs are often considered less standard in formal written English. They are usually quite standard in speech, however, and follow the natural rules of language. They are not incorrect, but an indicator of our changing language.          


            We ran slow.                                       We ran slowly.

            She walks too quick for me.          She walks too quickly for me.

            I think I did good on that test.      I think I did well on that test.



key words: adverbs, adjectives, variation, informal vs. formal


CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.1a Explain the function of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in general and their functions in particular sentences. 

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.6 Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate conversational, general academic, and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal spatial and temporal relationships (e.g., After dinner that night we went looking for them). 

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.3c Differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and situations where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g., small-group discussion). 


Here is this lesson as a pdf.


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