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A Summary of Adverbs

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In this section, we met the last of the working words, the adverb. We have visited the noun, the verb, the adjective, and now the adverb.

We learned that adverbs come in a variety of sizes: one-word adverbs, multiword phrases, and multiword clauses. We saw that adverbs modify not only verbs but adjectives, other adverbs, and entire sentences. We learned that most adverbs that derive from adjectives form themselves with an ‑ly ending: easy (adjective) and easily (adverb). We also learned that some words have identical adjectival and adverbial forms: fast (adjective) and fast (adverb).

Adverbs are remarkably versatile. Not only do they modify verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, but they can modify entire clauses. Furthermore, when we decide where to put them in sentences, we find that they can move all over the place.

In multiword verb forms, some conventions guide us in properly placing the adverb. We usually put the adverb between a helping verb and its main verb, contrary to ill-informed conventional wisdom.

Adverbs follow the same rules as adjectives when they form their comparative and superlative forms. We use ‑er or more for the comparative and ‑est or most for the superlative. The number of syllables usually dictates the choice, with the ‑ly adverbs requiring more and most.

Finally, phrases and clauses can enter our sentences and act as adverbs. The prepositional, present-participial, and infinitive phrases can act adverbially. Dependent clauses can as well. Because adverbial structures are moveable, we can shift them around in the sentence to achieve a particular style or point of emphasis.

That completes most of the working words. Let’s move on to the next three parts of speech: pronouns, conjunctions, and prepositions.

 

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