English Grammar All-in-One For Dummies (+ Chapter Quizzes Online)
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Adjectives aren’t the only descriptive words in English. Adverbs are another type of description. Most often adverbs describe verbs by providing more information about the action, but they can also describe adjectives and even other adverbs. Generally adverbs answer the following questions:

  • How?

  • When?

  • Where?

  • Why?

Check these out:

The boss regretfully said no to Phil’s request for a raise.
The boss furiously said no to Phil’s request for a raise.
The boss never said no to Phil’s request for a raise.

If you’re Phil, you care whether the words regretfully, furiously, or never are in the sentence. Regretfully, furiously, and never are all adverbs. Notice how adverbs add meaning in these sentences:

Lola sadly sang George’s latest song. (Perhaps Lola is in a bad mood.)
Lola sang George’s latest song reluctantly. (Lola doesn’t want to sing.)
Lola hoarsely sang George’s latest song. (Lola has a cold.)
Lola sang George’s latest song quickly. (Lola is in a hurry.)
Lola sang even George’s latest song. (Lola sang everything, and with George’s latest, she hit the bottom of the barrel.)

Adverbs also describe other descriptions, usually making the description more or less intense. Here’s an example:

An extremely unhappy Larry flipped when his trust fund tanked.

How unhappy? Answer: extremely unhappy. Extremely is an adverb describing the adjective unhappy.

Sometimes the questions you pose to locate adjectives and adverbs are answered by more than one word in a sentence. In the previous example sentence, if you ask, “Seemed when?” the answer is when his trust fund tanked. Don’t panic. These longer answers are just different members of the adjective and adverb families.

Now back to work. Here’s another example:

When he began to speak, Larry’s very talkative pet frog wouldn’t stop.

How talkative? Answer: very talkative. Very is an adverb describing the adjective talkative.

And another:

Larry’s frog croaked quite hoarsely.

This time an adverb is describing another adverb. Hoarsely is an adverb because it explains how the frog croaked. In other words, hoarsely describes the verb croaked. How hoarsely? Answer: quite hoarsely. Quite is an adverb describing the adverb hoarsely, which in turn describes the verb croaked scratching himself.

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