Adverb or adjective – what’s the difference?


An adverb is a describing word that often end in ‘ly’. Easily, strangely, effectively, happily are examples, but so are very, often and soon. They usually describe verbs (hence the name), that is how, when or wheresomething happens.

They are different to adjectives which describe nouns, or things, people and places.

For example, in the sentence ‘she sang beautifully’, ‘beautifully’ describes the verb ‘sang’.

They can also describe adjectives, for example:

Sally is very pretty.

She sang very beautifully.

In the first one, ‘very’ describes the adjective ‘pretty’.

In the second sentence, there are two: ‘very’ and ‘beautifully’.

Many adjectives can be turned into adverbs by adding -ly. These ‘-ly’ words can be useful because, like adjectives, they add colour and detail to your writing.

Try adding one or more ‘-ly’ words to the following sentences:

Ted ate his sandwich.

The cat sat on the mat.

They walked around the town until they were tired .

Don’t overdo it though. A lot of novice writers overuse them. In his bookOn Writing, the best-selling author Stephen King wrote “I believe the road to Hell is paved with adverbs.” You can see what he means if you read this passage:

“The man got up slowly and deliberately from his chair. He gradually crossed the room and unhurriedly picked up a pen. The clock ticked very loudly. Outside the wind picked up noisily as he began writing angrily.”

Sounds like someone swallowed a thesaurus!

Leave a Reply




%d bloggers like this: