Many English speakers believe that an adverb is any word ending in –ly, but holding such a belief may do you more harm than good.
In reality, not every word that ends in –ly is an adverb, so this approach can be misleading at best. For example, the word rally is a noun as well as verb, while silly, friendly, and pally are adjectives. More importantly, there is no regular structure to adverbs, which means that they come in all shapes and sizes. The words only, well, already, too, and sometimes are all adverbs, although they aren’t similar in appearance.
Adverbs, put simply, are words that modify the meaning of other words (e.g. verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs) around them. At times they can also modify the meaning of entire sentences. Here are some common types of adverbs:
1. Adverbs of frequency
As the name suggests, such adverbs show just how frequently something happens. It is common to use an adverb of frequency with the present simple tense to talk about how often we do something.
I always drink green tea in the morning.
John often goes to the cinema with friends.
Sally hardly ever listens to rock and roll.
I never buy clothes online.
Sometimes we talk about repeated action by using the word ‘every’ followed by a time expression, or by pluralising a day of the week.
Jan plays football with friends every Sunday.
I wash my car every week.
Mathew goes to Spain every month.
They have a barbeque in the garden on Sundays.
2. Adverbs of place
An adverb of place generally provides information on location or movement. The first two sentences below talk about the direction (ran downstairs, drove past old building) where someone is moving, whereas the next two talk about distances (miles away, nearby).
The kids ran downstairs when they heard the doorbell.
We drove past many old buildings.
Mona’s house is a couple of miles away.
There is a decent café nearby.
We’ll be back with more on adverbs in later posts.