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Set 2 - Lesson 14 ( Go to the Answer Key )


Lesson 14: Adverbs - Words that Modify Verbs, Adjectives, and Other Adverbs: When? Where? How?

The main job of adverbs is to modify verbs.  They tell When, Where, Why, How, or In What Manner the action in the sentence takes place.  They can be found before or after the verbs they modify.  (Prepositional phrases sometimes do the job of an adverb - see Lesson 9.)  Adverbs also modify adjectives and other adverbs.  In these cases, they are usually in front of the word they modify.

  • As a verb modifier: She quickly slammed the door.  The cat crept quietly toward the bird.  Finally, the fire engine arrived.
  • As an adjective modifier: The new sports car was very fast.  The dent was hardly visible.  The model was quite pretty.
  • As an adverb modifier: The baby drained the bottle very quickly.  When the house was almost totally destroyed, the fire truck arrived.

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Did you notice that many of the adverbs end in -ly?  That is the principle way adverbs are created in English, by adding -ly to an adjective.  'great' becomes 'greatly', 'quiet' becomes 'quietly', 'simple' becomes 'simply'.

When adverbs modify adjectives or other adverbs, they usually tell us 'to what degree' or 'to what extent' the adjective or adverb is true;  they also usually answer the question 'How?'  Example:  The car was very fast.  How fast? very fast.  The model was quite pretty.  How pretty?  quite pretty.

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One of the most common mistakes people make with adverbs is not using them when they should.  Too many times a person will use an adjective where an adverb should have been used.

  • Wrong: I'm doing good today.  Right: I'm doing well today.  Why?  Because 'good' is an adjective and it cannot modify a verb, or tell us how someone was 'feeling' or 'doing'.  You could say 'This is a good day.'  or 'I am good (or bad or sick or stupid).'  You could say, 'I am doing a good job today.' because in this case 'good' is telling us what kind of job,  as an adjective should do.  'Well' is an adverb, so it has every right to modify the verb 'doing'   'Well' tells us 'How' I am doing.
  • Wrong: I have to get to school quick.   Right:  I have to get to school quickly.  A rabbit is quick.  Oatmeal can be quick.  But the manner in which I have to get to school is 'quickly'


Exercise A:  Circle the correct word inside the parentheses in the following sentences.

1. Sarah knew she could not get rich (quick, quickly) by investing in real estate.

2. Norman ate his breakfast (fast, rapidly) so he would not be late for work.

3. The pigeon remained (calm, calmly) as the cat inched closer.

4. Please close the door (tight, tightly) when you leave.

5. The burglar tapped (light, lightly) on the bedroom window.

6. (Careful, carefully), the surgeon prepared to open the patient's chest.

7. The (hungry, hungrily) bum watched (greedy, greedily) through the window as the pizza maker flipped dough.

Exercise B: Use adverbs from the list to modify the underlined adjectives in the following sentences.  Write the new sentences on the lines.

very, quite, rather, almost, great, hardly, barely, too, just, entirely, wholly, slightly, overly, simply, recently, completely

1. The large python slid quietly into the empty room.


2. Scott, the muscular construction worker, thought the new building was unsafe.


3.  The retired businessman flew to Florida on the crowded jet.


4. The overweight rancher drove his dependable pickup truck across the pasture.


5. Tom was afraid he would seem stupid in the job interview.




Examination:  Find the adverbs in the following sentences.  Write them on the line with the words they modify.  Example:  You know quite well it was almost noon when you finally arrived at work.

quite modifies well, almost   modifies noon, finally  modifies arrived

1.  The wonderfully talented singer very easily charmed the audience with her performance.


2. The barely literate student desperately tried to pass the very difficult test.


3. Harry sincerely hoped that Sally would finally say yes to his proposal.


4. There were just too many people at the carnival to truly enjoy it.


5. It was quite lonely in the totally deserted shopping mall after it closed.


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