Adverbs : definition and use…

An adverb is a kind of word that is primarily used to change or qualify the meaning of a verb. For the purposes of this post we will concentrate mainly on adverbs that perform this function.

However adverbs can also be used to qualify the meaning of  an adjective, a clause, another adverb, or any other type of word or phrase with the exception of determiners and adjectives that directly modify nouns.


Adverbs perform a wide variety of functions, which makes it difficult to treat them as a single, unified category. Adverbs normally carry out these functions by answering questions such as:

When? She always arrives early.
How? He drives carefully.
Where? They go everywhere together.
To what extent? It is terribly hot.

With these functions in mind pupils will be able to adverbs as part of their strategy  to improve their sentences from being just basic statements…


Adverbs can always be used to modify verbs. In  the second of the two examples below, the reader is given more information about what is taking place and will, hopefully be more engaged…

When Peter arrived home the dog greeted him.
As far as we can the the dog raised its head and wagged its tail a couple of times but may not have even climbed out of its basket.

When Peter arrived home the dog greeted him enthusiastically.  Clearly Now we have more information we can apply our knowledge of how dogs show enthusiasm and imagine Peter’s dog leaping from its basket, running towards him, wagging its tail furiously, maybe barking and jumping up to greet its master…