Adverbs – formation and meaning.

We normally use adverbs to modify a verb, adjective, another adverb or even an entire sentence. Most of them are built by adding ‘-ly’ to the adjective.

For example:

  • The opera singer is a beautiful lady.
  • She also sings beautifully.

Comparison of adverbs

Adverbs can also be compared by putting ‘more’ and ‘most’ before them.

For example:

  • He tried to walk more quietly as the baby was sleeping.
  • Paul won the race because he ran most quickly.

Irregular forms

Analyse the sentence:

I could hardly stand.

Is the word hardly an adjective or an adverb? How is it formed?

  1. Adverbs are normally formed by adding -ly to the corresponding adjective; e.g. easy – easily, quiet – quietly, successful – successfully
  2. A few adverbs have the same form as the corresponding adjectives: e.g. fast, late, near, hard, high, early, etc.
  3. The forms lately, nearly, hardly, deeply, highly also exist, but have a narrower meaning than their corresponding adjectives:

lately = recently

deeply = profoundly

nearly = almost

hardly = scarcely, almost not, with difficulty


Fill in the missing adverb and explain the difference in meaning between the adjective and the adverb.

  1. John is a hard worker, but Mary ________ ever does any work in the house.
  2. He is a near relative of mine. I think about him ________ all the time.
  3. It’s a very simple dish. I ________ can’t believe that you can’t make it.
  4. He touched it with his bare hands. He _________ noticed the difference.
  5. Potatoes are scarce. You can ________ find them anywhere.
  6. This is the first real letter I’ve received from you. I ________ enjoyed reading it.

(Answers: 1. hardly, 2. nearly, 3. simply, 4. barely, 5. scarcely, 6. really)

Adverbs - formation and meaning
Adverbs – formation and meaning

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