Grammar Tips & Articles »

1. Do All Adverbs End in -ly?

This article is about 1. Do All Adverbs End in -ly? — enjoy your reading!

1:46 min read
  Ed Good  —  Grammar Tips
Font size:

What happened to the -ly ending?

We use the ‑ly ending to add to adjectives to convert them to adverbs. Thus, the adjective easy becomes the adverb easily, the adjective rapid becomes the adverb rapidly, and the adjective careful becomes the adverb carefully.

But many adverbs do not have the ‑ly ending. Some words have identical forms as adjectives and adverbs. Consider the word fast. It’s an adjective, as in the fast runner or the fast car. But it’s also an adverb. When describing Igor, our early grammarians grunted, Igor runs fast. They didn’t say, Igor runs fastly.

Think about the word straight. It’s an adjective, as in the straight line. But it can also act as an adverb when we say, We go straight to the point. We wouldn’t say, We go straightly to the point.

Interestingly enough, when you modify verbs with adverbs, those ending in ‑ly have the capacity to come before the verb. But most of those not ending in ‑ly have a hard time preceding the verb they modify. We cannot say, for example, Igor fast runs or We straight go to the point.

A final point on the ‑ly ending. Many people (especially sportscasters) do not distinguish between adjectives and adverbs. They just use the adjective form to perform double duty and serve as adverbs. Basically, they’ve excised the ‑ly adverb out of the language:

She swam that lap easy, don’t you think, Mark?

In fact, on July 22, 2001, a commentator at the British Open observed:

He hit that one soft, now didn’t he?

If these announcers cared about the language, they would find out that easy can indeed serve as an adverb, but its adverbial use is a colloquial one, as in take it easy. The swimming announcer should have said:

She easily swam that lap, don’t you think, Mark?

The golfing announcer should have said:

He hit that one softly, now didn’t he?

Unfortunately, sportscasters don’t care about, or don’t know, the language. As a result, they do a lot of damage.


Previous: Adverbs - Four Questions

Next: 2. Where Do Adverbs Go?

Rate this article:

Have a discussion about this article with the community:



    Use the citation below to add this article to your bibliography:


    "1. Do All Adverbs End in -ly?." STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 17 May 2024. <>.

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Check your text and writing for style, spelling and grammar problems everywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Check your text and writing for style, spelling and grammar problems everywhere on the web!


    Free Writing Tool:

    Grammar Checker

    Improve your grammar, vocabulary, and writing -- and it's FREE!


    Are you a grammar master?

    Identify the sentence with correct use of the preposition 'in':
    A She walked in the garden.
    B The cat is sleeping in the basket.
    C He arrived in the evening.
    D The keys are in the drawer.

    Improve your writing now:

    Download Grammar eBooks

    It’s now more important than ever to develop a powerful writing style. After all, most communication takes place in reports, emails, and instant messages.