Definition of adverb
- In "arrived early" the word "early" is an adverb.
In “arrived early,” “runs slowly,” “stayed home,” and “works hard” the words “early,” “slowly,” “home,” and “hard” are adverbs.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'adverb.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Adverbs are words that usually modify—that is, they limit or restrict the meaning of—verbs. They may also modify adjectives, other adverbs, phrases, or even entire sentences.
An adverb answers the question when?, where?, how?, how much?, how long?, or how often?:
The elections are coming soon.
They only shopped locally.
They are happily married.
The roads are very steep.
He stopped by briefly to say hello.
My daughter calls me regularly.
Most adverbs are formed by adding -ly to an adjective. If the adjective already ends in -y, the -y usually changes to -i.
bold / boldly
solid / solidly
interesting / interestingly
heavy / heavily
unnecessary / unnecessarily
There are, however, many common adverbs that do not end in -ly, such as again, also, just, never, often, soon, today, too, very, and well.
There are a few different kinds of adverbs. The words when, where, why, and how are called interrogative adverbs when they begin a question.
When did the event occur?
Where is the proof?
Why was he so late?
How did they get here?
The relative adverbs—where, when, and why (how is sometimes included as well)—introduce subordinate clauses (also called dependent clauses), which are clauses that do not form simple sentences by themselves.
This is the house where I grew up.
They go to bed when they want to.
She wondered why the door was open.
When an adverb modifies a whole sentence or clause, it is called a sentence adverb. Words such as fortunately, frankly, hopefully, and luckily are generally used as sentence adverbs and usually express the speaker's feelings about the content of the sentence. Such adverbs normally come at the beginning of a sentence, but may also come in the middle or at the end.
Unfortunately, Friday will be cloudy.
Friday, unfortunately, will be cloudy.
Friday will be cloudy, unfortunately.
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