Adverbs : Formation

Many adverbs are formed from adjectives and end in -ly. Here are some tips to help you form adverbs and spell them correctly:The majority of adverbs are formed by taking an adjective and adding -ly.

The exact spelling of the adverb will depend upon the spelling of the adjective


The basic rule is that –ly is added to the end of the adjective:

bad -> badly
hopeless -> hopelessly
stupid -> stupidly

If, however, the adjective has two syllables and ends in –y, then you simply replace the final –y with –ily:

crazy -> crazily
happy -> happily
shabby ->shabbily
squeakysqueakily

 If the adjective ends with a consonant followed by –le, simply replace the final –e with –y on its own:

simple -> simply
responsible -> responsibly
horrible -> horribly
comfortable -> comfortably

But f the adjective ends with a vowel followed by –le, normally the final –e has –ly added after it in line with the basic rule:

vile-> vilely
sole -> solely
agile -> agilely

If an adjective ends in –ic, the syllable –al is usually added before the –ly ending:

dramatic -> dramatically
scientific -> scientifically
specific -> specifically

It should also be noted that there are several adjectives ending in –ly which have no corresponding adverbs:

friendly
likely
lively
lonely
silly
ugly

Click here to see a longer list of adjectives ending in -ly which have no corresponding adverbs

Not all adverbs end in -ly…

well
very
often
tomorrow
never
soon

And, of course not all words ending in -ly are adverbs..!

family
assembly
reply
bully