Adverbs are traditionally defined as words that describe verbs.


Adverbs answer any of the following questions about verbs:

how?    when?    where?     why?



The following examples illustrate adverbs modifying verbs:


How did he lift the barbell?

Easily is an adverb.



When will we use it?

Tomorrow functions as an adverb.



Where did she hide the key?

Nearby is an adverb.



Adverbs are the most moveable of all parts of speech; therefore, it is sometimes difficult to identify an adverb on the basis of its position in a sentence.


For example, the adverb slowly will fit into three places in the sentence     He climbed the ladder:




Most adverbs end in -ly.  In fact, most adverbs are formed by adding -ly to adjectives:




Like adjectives of more than one syllable, adverbs usually become comparative and superlative by using more and most.





Flat adverbs


Adjectives that do not change form (add -ly) to become adverbs are called "flat adverbs."


Typical flat adverbs are early, late, hard, fast, long, high, low, deep, near.


To determine whether these words are functioning as adjectives or adverbs, one must determine 


1)  what the word is describing (noun or verb)

2)  what question the word is answering


The following examples illustrate the distinction.


Early as adjective:

Early describes the noun train and answers the question "which one?"


Early as adverb:

Early describes the verb arrived and answers the question "when?"


Hard as adjective:

Hard describes the noun pass and answers the question "what kind?"


Hard as adverb:

Hard describes the verb threw and answers the question "how?"