8

What Do Adjectives And Adverbs Modify?

adjectivesBoth 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.

Relative adverbs

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.

examples:

  • downstairs
  • everywhere
  • here
  • in
  • inside
  • outside

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.

examples:

  • early
  • first
  • last
  • later
  • never
  • now

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.’

How

  • briskly
  • brutally
  • cheerfully
  • expertly
  • randomly
  • weirdly

Extent

  • almost
  • also
  • enough
  • only
  • not
  • quite

Adverb phrases

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.

examples

  • She lives in the south of France
  • We went to buy a house
  • You can stay as long as you like

Summary

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.

Test your knowledge of Adverbs

These books provide both study and reference material for English Grammar

Understanding and Using English Grammar by Betty Azar understandingEnglishGrammar
Grammarly. Correct your grammar as you type. Grammarly logo
<English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy English Grammar in Use
The Blue book of Grammar and punctuation – An easy to use guide with clear rules, real-world examples, and reproducible quizzes. thebluebookofgrammar

Aaron Skudder

8 Comments

  1. Thanks a lot for sharing with us such an amazing article about What Do Adjectives And Adverbs Modify.

    I want to learn better English, so I’m looking for lessons online. I have read many articles about Adjectives And Adverbs Modify, but this is the best I have read. I will definitely use this site more to learn English.

    Thanks again and keep in touch!

  2. I’m from the Carribean with my native language not being English, however, over the past 12 years I have been learning English to a point where I am fluent.

    When I first started learning I found the adverbs and the endings of words in general very confusing. I am not sure its just me but it was hard to grasp at the time, however, I have now learned it.  

    I do agree with you on how you shouldn’t use adverbs all the time, there was a time where I used them in every sentence and people would always point it out.

    Thanks for sharing this guide, it was interesting

    Josh

  3. As a teacher, iI can say that grammar can be one of the hardest aspects of the English language. I found that the majority of my students would pick up adverbs and adjectives relatively quickly but would struggle with relative adverbs and adverb phrases. A good techniques for teaching this is to write the adverbs, adjectives, relative adverbs and adverb phrases onto a coloured card e.g. blue. one the reverse write what type it is. Then have the students create sentences withother half sentences that are written on a different color.

  4. As a teacher, iI can say that grammar can be one of the hardest aspects of the English language. I found that the majority of my students would pick up adverbs and adjectives relatively quickly but would struggle with relative adverbs and adverb phrases. A good technique for teaching this is to write the adverbs, adjectives, relative adverbs, and adverb phrases onto a colored card e.g. blue. one the reverse write what type it is. Then have the students create sentences with other half-sentences that are written on a different color.

  5. As always, you’ve found the simplest way to describe a specific topic! The way you’ve organized the relative Adverbs is briskly brilliant xD (I’m always anxious about using recently acquired words).  

    Definitely making the exteriorization of our thoughts as descriptive as possible will help us to get as well understood as possible. Thanks for sharing with us the way our complex system, called language, is structured to deliver efficient communication. Nothing to add neither any question to be asked!

    PD: Please observes the first question of the Quiz sais “Untitled Question”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *