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English Grammar

Adjectives and Adverbs

Take the QUIZ on Adjectives and Adverbs


Adjectives are words that modify a noun or pronoun. An adjective can modify a noun in several ways. It can tell what kind, which one and how many.

what kind: worst storms, mountainous waves, red jacket, beautiful girl

which one: this hurricane, that shore, those countries

how many: one town, three students

Often a noun is modified by more than one adjective. Good book, big book, that book

Adverbs are words that modify a verb, an adjective or another verb.

describing a verb: moved slowly

describing an adjective: already late

describing an adverb: far away

Adverbs can modify verbs and adjectives in several ways. They can tell how, when or how often, where and to what extent.

how: moved slowly

when: already gigantic

where: land far away

to what extent: nearly empty

Hint: To figure out whether a word is an adjective or an adverb look for the word it modifies.


The snow fell on the red flower (red is an adjective because it modifies the noun flower).

The mail arrived late today (late is an adverb because it modifies the verb arrive).

A late dinner was served at the restaurant (late is an adjective because it modifies the noun dinner).

Forming Adjectives and Adverbs

Adjectives and adverbs modify different kinds of words. Therefore, you should not use one in the place of other. Usually adjectives and adverbs are formed in different ways. By knowing how they are formed, you can be sure to use them correctly.

Adjectives do not have special forms. Many adverbs, however, are formed by adding 'ly' to an adjective.

Adverbs formed with 'ly'

Adjectives Adverbs
loud screaming
scream loudly
warm clothes
warmly dressed
beautiful photograph
paints beautifully

Some adverbs are formed from adjectives in other ways.

If the adjective ends in:

ll, add only a y: full becomes fully

y, change the y to i and add ly: happy becomes happily

le, change the le to ly: horrible becomes horribly

ic, add al before adding ly: frantic becomes frantically

Same Form of Adjectives and Adverbs

Some adjectives and adverbs have the same form. The table below shows some of these. Please note especially that words ending in ly are not always adverbs.

Adjectives and Adverbs with the Same Form


Problems with Adjectives and Adverbs:

Adverbs can often be moved around in a sentence without changing the meaning or making the sentence unclear.

Reading my favorite book relaxes me slowly.

I am relaxed when I read my book slowly.

As you see in the above two sentences, the two different places of the adverb 'slowly' creates a different meaning. In the first sentence I relax slowly when reading my favorite book. In the second sentence, the meaning is completely different: If I read my book slowly, I relax.

Modifiers Used with Linking Verbs:

Remember that linking verbs are words like appear, feel, and look. They connect a noun with another word that modifies it or renames it. Certain verbs can be used both as linking verbs or action verbs.

Both Linking and Action Verbs


A modifier following these word can be an adjective or adverb. To know which is correct, decide what words is being modified. If the word modifies a noun, it must be an adjective. A common mistake is to use the adverb because it seems to modify the verb it follows.

Incorrect: That bag looks heavily
Correct: That bag looks heavy. (Look is a helping verb; a heavy bag)

Incorrect: Jason grew quick.
Correct: Jason grew quickly. (How Jason grew)

Hint: Use this trick to help you decide whether a verb is used as a linking verb or an action verb. Mentally replace the verb with the linking verb, 'is' or 'are'. If the sentence still makes sense, the verb is a linking verb. The modifier should be an adjective. If the sentence doesn't make sense, it is an action verb. Then, the modifier should be an adverb.

Sarah grew angry: Sarah is angry. It is correct because the second sentence makes sense with 'is'.

Jane grew quickly. Jane is quickly. It is incorrect because the second sentence doesn't make sense with 'is'.







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