Both adjectives and adverbs are modifiers. However, Adjectives modify only nouns, and adverbs modify everything that is not a noun.
Adverbs are most often used with verbs (action words). As in the name ‘Adverb,’ it adds to the verb, for example, “he ran slowly.” ‘slowly’ is how he ran and is, therefore, an adverb.
Adverbs also modify adjectives; for example, ‘Learning English is very exciting.’ Adverbs are called ‘descriptive words’ because they describe how something was done. They can also modify other adverbs for example ‘She ran quite quickly down the stairs.’
Adverbs generally have ‘ly’ added on to an adjective; for example, if you take the adjective ‘slow’ and and ‘ly,’ you get ‘slowly,’ which is an adjective. Other examples are ‘cheerful -> cheerfully, nice -> nicely.
Where, when, and Why are question words, for example, ‘where are you from,’ however, that are also relative adverbs.
Where (you ask about a place)
An example of relative adverbs is ‘Auckland is where I grew up. ‘Where’ is not being used as a question but connects the city with the place where I grew up.
When and while (you ask about time)
Another example is, ‘I graduated from university when I was twenty years old,’ when is not being used as a question.
Why (you ask about reasons)
If the question is asked, ‘Why is the sky blue,’ I could answer, ‘I don’t know why the sky is blue.’ The word ‘why’ connects and relates ‘I don’t know’ with ‘the sky is blue.’ Why is modifying ‘the sky is blue.’
These function like adverbs, they modify a verb or adjective by adding more information to a sentence. Adverb phrases tell us when where, how and to what extent. They do not always contain an adverb and can start with a preposition or the infinitive form of a verb.
- She lives in the south of France
- We went to buy a house
- You can stay as long as you like
Adverbs can enhance sentences by making them more descriptive. However, adverbs should be used sparingly, using too many adverbs can make sentences hard to read.