An adverb is a word which modifies a verb, adjective or another verb. The word derives from the Latin ‘ad’ meaning ‘to’ and ‘verbum’ which quite simply means, errr, ‘verb’. ‘Adverb’ is therefore a sort of shorthand word for reflecting the fact that adverbs modify verbs very much more often than they modify adjectives and other adverbs.
The most common use of an adverb, of course, is to describe verbs: He ran quickly. Actually, however, adverbs can modify anything but nouns or verb forms used as nouns. Typically adverbs express:
- time (now, then, yesterday)
- manner (happily, easily)
- degree (less, more, very)
- direction and place (there, up, down)
- affirmation or negation (certainly, not)
- cause and result (thus, consequently), and
- qualification or doubt (however, probably).
Although many adverbs are formed by adding ‘-ly’ to adjectives (quick/quickly, happy/happily, spiffy/spiffily), adverbs have no characteristic form and thus can be hard to work out. They can only be identified by the function they perform in a sentence. For example, in the sentence “That is a fast car”, fast is an adjective. However, in the sentence ‘He ran fast’, it is an adverb. Strange, huh?
Certain adverbs (how, when, where, why, whenever, and wherever) are called relative adverbs because they introduce relative clauses. In the sentence “The monkey is upstairs where you left him”, the clause “where you left him” modifies the adverb ‘upstairs’.
Other adverbs are called conjunctive adverbs because they join one clause with another. Some of these adverbs are: therefore, accordingly, besides, furthermore, instead, meanwhile, and nevertheless. In the sentence “He was pretty goosed; therefore he stayed home and watched My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding”, the word therefore modifies the clause of which it is a part and connects that clause to the previous part of the sentence.
- Read the poem ‘Slowly’ by James Reeves
- Next, zoom in and analyse the different effects the adverbs have on the reader
- In the comments section below, write an adverb poem of your own. Remember to plan all your ideas first before you start. Use the following adverbs to help:
quietly, gently, softly, lightly, swiftly, brightly, loudly, frantically, jocularly, sternly, jovially, awkwardly, cunningly, cautiously, furiously, monstrously, desperately, bravely, luckily, mysteriously, tragically.
Slowly the tide creeps up the sand,
Slowly the shadows cross the land.
Slowly the cart-horse pulls his mile,
Slowly the old man mounts his stile.
Slowly the hands move round the clock,
Slowly the dew dries on the dock.
Slow is the snail – but slowest of all
The green moss spreads on the old brick wall.