Adverbs are used to describe actions. They may come before or after a verb, but not between a verb and its object.
- Mrs. Jenner softly sang. (Most common word order.)
- Mrs. Jenner softly sang. (Also possible.)
- Mrs. Jenner softly sang a lullaby.
- Mrs. Jenner sang a lullaby softly.
- Mrs. Jenner sang softly a lullaby. (Not correct.)
Adverbs may come between a main verb and its auxiliaries.
- Mrs. Jenner is softly singing a lullaby.
- Mrs. Jenner softly is singing a lullaby. (Not correct.)
- Mrs. Jenner has been softly singing that lullaby for a long time.
Some time and frequency adverbs are “movable.” That is, they can be placed at various points in a sentence.
- Yesterday I visited the dentist.
- I visited the dentist yesterday.
- Jack Prompt is here already.
- Jack Prompt is already here.
Caution: Even though some adverbs can be used in certain sentence positions, others can not.
- I yesterday visited the dentist. (Not okay.)
- I already visited the dentist. (Okay.)
- Already I visited the dentist. (Not okay.)
Adverbs such as quite, very, really, extremely, and absolutely are used to modify adjectives and other adverbs.
- They come directly before the words they describe.
- Greg is quite happy with his new boss.
- Sue eats very slowly.
- You’re absolutely right!
Many adverbs can be formed by adding –ly to adjectives:
- Carl is a quick runner.
- Carl runs quickly.
Some adverbs are identical to adjectives in form. Others are completely different.
Be careful with words like hardly and lately, which have no relation to the adjectives/adverbs hard and late.