Adverbs as Modifiers.

We have learned that adverbs are used to modify (a) verbs, (6) adjectives, and (c) other adverbs. These may be called the three uses of adverbs. Further examples are:

(a) I. Lucy dances gracefully.
2. Shakespeare wrote rapidly.
3. Why did you say that?
4. He never tried it again.

5. He always and everywhere proclaimed that he had not committed the theft.

(6) 6. Mary Queen of Scots was indescribably fascinating. 7. I was particularly careful not to hurt his feelings. 8. It was a singularly untimely death. 9. Your friend was unreasonably angry. Io. Are you quite sure of it? (c) 11. Do not walk so rapidly. 12. She spoke half jestingly. .13. Pretty soon I met him again. 14. They talk very confidently about it.

Kinds of Adverbs.

When classified according to their meaning, adverbs fall chiefly into four divisions. They denote:

(1) Time:

now, then, afterwards, often, sometimes, rarely, seldom, frequently, never, always, when? once, to-day, to-morrow, etc.

(2) Place:

here, there, in, out, above, below, far, near, where? yonder, astern, aloft, etc.

(3) Manner:

slowly, surely, thus, foolishly, splendidly, terribly, greedily, wearily, how? well, badly, awkwardly, satisfactorily, etc.

(4) Degree:

much, little, almost, quite, rather, somewhat, partly, wholly, very, exceedingly, barely, etc.

Adverbs of manner outnumber the other classes and are usually formed by the addition of ly to adjectives.

Adverbs of time answer the question “When ? " or
How often?”
Adverbs of place answer the question “Where?”

Adverbs of manner answer the question “How?” or “In what way?

Adverbs of degree answer the question “ To what degree? ” or “ To what extent ? ”

Comparison of Adverbs.

(a) Adverbs ending in ly form the comparative and superlative by the use of more and most respectively:

slowly, more slowly, most slowly.

(6) Adverbs of one syllable form the comparative and superlative by adding er and est respectively:

fast, faster, fastest; soon, sooner, soonest; loud, louder, loudest.

(c) Many adverbs, such as now, here, thus, wholly, etc., are incapable of comparison.

Irregular Comparison. - A few adverbs are irregular in their comparison :

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Adverbs and Adjectives.

As shown in the preceding paragraph some adverbs have the same form as adjectives, but in use the two are different:

1. This is a fast horse. (Adjective)
2. This train travels fast. (Adverb)
3. The amount was less than I had expected. (Adjective)
4. James studies less than formerly. (Adverb)

After certain verbs, such as turn, look, feel, appear, either an adverb or an adjective may be used. For the difference in meaning, see Chapter LXIX.

The Double Negative.

Two negatives sometimes make good sense, as Nobody is content to do nothing ; but they usually make nothing but bad English:




I haven't seen nobody.

He hadn't never been there before.

I haven't seen anybody.
I have seen nobody.

He had never been there before.

I haven't seen him or his brother.

I have seen neither him nor his brother.

You haven't done anything.

I haven't seen him nor his brother.

You have done nothing. - } You haven't done nothing.

I haven't said nothing about it.

I haven't said anything about it.

I have said nothing about it.

I had scarcely sat down before he came in.

She had but one.
He could hardly talk.

I hadn't scarcely sat down before he came in.

She didn't have but one.
He couldn't hardly talk.

Misplaced Adverbs.

Adverbs should be placed as near as possible to the words that they modify. This rule is most frequently violated in the placing of only and even. They should be placed immediately before the word, phrase, or clause that they modify:


I have only two left.

He was praised even by Washington.

He's on duty only at night.

I did only what you told me to do.

I only have two left.

He was even praised by Washington.

He's only on duty at night.

I only did what you told me to do.



In which of the four classes are to be found most of the adverbs that may be compared ? Name ten adverbs that are incapable of comparison.


Construct sentences illustrating the use of much, worse, loud, fast, less, first as adjectives, then as adverbs.


Explain the uses of only in these sentences ;

1. He only loaned me five dollars,
2. He loaned me only five dollars.
3. He only hinted it to me.
4. He hinted it only to me.
5. I only saw him yesterday.
6. I saw him only yesterday.


Point out the adverbs in the following selections, name their degrees of comparison, and tell what words they modify: 1. Slowly and sadly we laid him down, From the field of his fame fresh and gory.

- CHARLES WOLFE: The Burial of Sir John Moore.


Learned and wise, hath perished utterly.

WORDSWORTH: Ecclesiastical Sonnets.

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