ENGLISHMain English Grammar

Adverb, Types of Adverbs, Types of Adverbs & There Positions, Order of Adverbs


To understand the meaning of ADVERB, see the following sentences:

a) Mohan is a good
b) I have two pens.
c) Ram walks slowly.
d) Ram walks very slowly.
e) Mohan is a very good boy.

See what function the word GOOD is doing; obviously it’s telling us the quality of the word ‘boy’, means it is describing it. Again we see the function of the word TWO; it’s telling us the number of ‘pens’, means it is describing it. Now see the word SLOWLY; it’s saying the manner of the action walking, means it is describing the word ‘walks’. Similarly the word VERY in the fourth sentence is describing the word ‘slowly’ and in the fifth sentence the word VERY is describing the word ‘good’.

We see the words GOOD, TWO, SLOWLY and VERY are describing something. Hence we can say that some words do the function of describing of something. We also see that words GOOD and TWO are describing nouns (naming words), whereas the words SLOWLY is describing a verb (walks) and the word VERY in one sentence is describing the word ‘slowly’ and in another sentence it’s describing the word ‘good’. We see that the words SLOWLY and VERY are describing words other than nouns or pronouns.

From the above we can categorize the describing words in two ways. Those describing nouns or pronouns. They are called ADJECTIVES. Those describing words other than nouns or pronouns. They are called ADVERBS.

Likewise, an adverb can also describe a preposition, conjunction and even a sentence, see how:

a) My house is immediately behind the temple.

(BEHIND is a preposition here and the word IMMEDIATELY is describing it, so IMMEDIATELY is an adverb describing a preposition.)

b) All the teachers like him simply because he is very sincere.

(BECAUSE is a conjunction here and the word SIMPLY is describing it, so SIMPLY is an adverb describing a conjunction.)

c) Certainly she is wrong.

(SHE IS WRONG is a sentence here and the word CERTAINLY is describing it, so CERTAINLY is an adverb describing a sentence.)


 Adverbs may be divided into the following classes:

A) Adverbs of PLACE
They show WHERE:

Below, Down, Here, Near, There, Up, On, Everywhere, etc.

a) The thief ran away.
b) Come here.
c) My mother has looked it everywhere.
d) He is out at the moment.
e) Put those books up on the top shelf

B) Adverbs of TIME
They show WHEN:

 After, Ago, Early, Late, Never, Now, Soon, Still, Then, Today, Yet, etc.

a) He soon returned from the market.
b) I go for a walk daily.
c) She formerly lived in Mumbai.
d) I read this novel two years ago.
e) She met him yesterday.

 C) Adverbs of FREQUENCY
They show HOW OFTEN:

 Always, Never, Occasionally, Often, Seldom, Once, Twice, etc.

a) My mother always goes for a morning.
b) Wasted time never returns.
c) I have told you this twice.
d) I have met him once.
e) The teacher has called me again.

 D) Adverbs of MANNER
They show HOW or IN WHAT MANNER:

Bravely, Clearly, Slowly, Fast, Happily, Hard, Quickly, So, Well, etc.

a) She is not able to speak clearly.
b) She speaks English well.
c) I fought him bravely.
d) My daughter works hard for the exam.
e) He always sleeps soundly.


Almost, Fairly, Hardly, Rather, Quite, Too, More, Much, Very, etc.

a) He is too careless.
b) These mangoes are almost ripe.
c) This book is very interesting.
d) She is rather busy at the moment.
e) She is so glad to hear this.

F) Adverbs of REASON
They state WHY:

Hence, Therefore, So, Because, As, Since

a) I could not attend the meeting because I was unfit.
b) He’s just got a pay rise, hence the new car.
c) I had met with an accident and therefore was unable to come.


Certainly, Definitely, Surely, Truly, No, Not, Never

a) I’ll surely come to meet your brother.
b) The problem surely lies in the design of the equipment.
c) She did not answer the question that I asked.
d) I never eat fried food.

When Adverbs are used in asking questions they are called Interrogative Adverbs:

When, Where, Why, How, etc.

a) Where is your school? [Interrogative adverb of place]
b) When will you leave for your shop? [Interrogative adverb of time]
c) Why are you late? [Interrogative adverb of reason]
d) How did you reach on the top of this mountain? [Interrogative adverb of manner]
e) How many girls are there in your school? [Interrogative adverb of number]
f) How busy are you today? [Interrogative adverb of degree]

A Relative Adverb not only describes some word, but also refers back to some noun / pronoun like a Relative Pronoun:

When, Where, Why, etc.

a) I don’t know the place where you live.
b) Do you know the time when the bus for Dadri leaves?
c) This is the reason why I could not attend the meeting.

NOTE-I: Some of the above Adverbs may belong to more than one category; e.g.

1. a) She sings beautifully. (BEAUTIFULLY is an adverb of manner here.)
b) The weather is beautifully pleasant. (BEAUTIFULLY is an adverb of degree here.)

2. a) You must not go far. (FAR is an adverb of place here.)
b) She is far better now. (FAR is an adverb of degree here.)

NOTE-II: Adverbs ending in ‘y’
Some Adverbs have two forms, the form ending in ‘y’ and the form which is the same as the Adjective; e.g.

 He sings very loud.
= He sings very loudly.

Sometimes, though, the two forms of the Adverb are used with different meanings; e.g.

a) Hard/Hardly

 i) They work hard at school. (HARD = with a great deal of effort.)
ii) She hardly ate anything in the morning. (HARDLY = almost not)

INCORRECT: They work hardly at school.
CORRECT: They work hard at school.

INCORRECT: They hard work at school.
CORRECT: They hardly work at school.

NOTE: The adverb HARD comes after the verb and the adverb HARDLY comes before the verb.

b) Near/Nearly

 i) I’d like to sit near you, please. (NEAR = not far away in distance)
ii) Jugal was nearly asleep. (NEARLY = almost, or not completely)

c) Late/Lately

 i) She arrived late today. (LATE = after the expected or usual time)
ii) I have not seen her lately. (LATELY = recently).

d) Free/Freely

i) Please feel free to say anything.
ii) For the first time in months he could move freely.

e) Pretty/Prettily

i) He looks pretty fit for this job. (PRETTY = to a moderately high degree; fairly.)
ii) Renu is prettily dressed. (PRETTILY = neatly, elegantly, beautifully)

NOTE-III: Similarly looking adverbs but different meanings:


ALOUD = in a voice which is loud enough so that one can hear easily
LOUDLY = making a lot of noise

i) He read her letter aloud so that everyone could hear.
ii) He always laughs loudly.

NOTE-IV: With verbs of senses (feel, see, hear, smell, etc) we use an adjective, not adverb; e.g.

INCORRECT: She looks honestly.
CORRECT: She looks honest.

INCORRECT: She sounds politely.
CORRECT: She sounds polite.

 NOTE-V: With BE (is, am, are, was, were), Become, Get, Grow, Keep, Make, Prove, Turn we use an adjective (not adverb); e.g.

INCORRECT: On hearing that, they all became sadly.
CORRECT: On hearing that, they all became sad. 

NOTE-VI: In negative sentences, the adverb PROBABLY comes before the negative verb or between the verb and the word NOT; e.g.

a) I probably won’t come here again.
b) She is probably not going to the party.

2. Adverbs and adverb phrases: position

We can put adverbs and adverb phrases at the front, in the middle or at the end of a clause:

A) The front position of the clause is the first item in the clause; e.g.

i) Suddenly I felt afraid.
ii) Yesterday detectives arrested a man and a woman in connection with the murder.

B) The end position of the clause is the last item in the clause; e.g.

Why do you always have to eat so fast?

C) The mid position is between the subject and the main verb; e.g.

Apples always taste best when you pick them straight off the tree.

NOTE-I: Where there is more than one verb, mid position means after the first helping verb or after a modal verb; e.g.

a) The government has occasionally been forced to change its mind. (after the first helping verb HAS)
b) You can definitely never predict what will happen. (after the modal verb CAN)
c) We mightn’t ever have met. (after the modal verb and before the helping verb)

NOTE-II: In questions, mid position is between the subject and the main verb; e.g.

Do you ever think about living there?

NOTE-III: Adverbs usually come after the main verb BE (is/am/are/was/were), except in emphatic clauses. When BE is emphasised, the adverb comes before the verb; e.g.

a) She is always at home on Sundays.
b) I am never late for school.
c) My parents are both teachers.
d) We are all going out this evening.
e) Rahul and Natasha have both applied for the job.
f) Why should I have gone to see Madonna? I never was a fan of hers. (emphatic)

INCORRECT: I’m happy always
CORRECT: I’m always happy.

NOTE-IV: If required we put adverbs in front of HAVE TO and USED TO; e.g.

a) I often have to go to school on foot.
b) She always used to agree with me.

NOTE-V: The adverb ENOUGH is used after the word it describes; e.g.

a) Is this box big enough for all those books?
b) Strangely enough, no one seemed to notice that Rohit was in his pyjamas.

NOTE-VI: Position of adverb ONLY

ONLY as an adverb is used in different positions, depending on its focus.

A) If the subject is the focus
If the subject is the focus, we put only in front position of the sentence; e.g.

INCORRECT: Neha only knows where the lock is kept.
CORRECT: Only Neha knows where the lock is kept.

INCORRECT: A very small table only can be put here.
CORRECT: Only a very small table can be put here.

B) If the focus is any other part of the sentence
If the focus is any other part of the sentence, we follow the following rules:

i) If there is no helping verb we put ONLY between the subject and the main verb except BE; e.g.

INCORRECT: She goes to temple once a week only.
CORRECT: She only goes to temple once a week.

ii) If BE (is/am/are/was/were) is the main verb we put ONLY after BE; e.g.

INCORRECT: There is one bus only that goes from Delhi to Dadri.
CORRECT: There is only one bus that goes from Delhi to Dadri.

INCORRECT: Karina is fifteen only.
CORRECT: Karina is only fifteen.

iii) If there are both helping verb and main verb in the sentence we put ONLY between the helping verb and the main verb. If there is more than one helping verb we put ONLY after the first helping verb; e.g.

INCORRECT: I only have arrived at midnight.
CORRECT: I have only arrived at midnight.

INCORRECT: We only could choose two of them.
CORRECT: We could only choose two of them.

INCORRECT: New technology will be introduced by your will only.
CORRECT: New technology will only be introduced by your will.

C) If the focus is a whole clause
If the focus is a whole clause, we can put ONLY in front position of the clause; e.g.

My leg hurts but only when I try to raise it.

3. Types of Adverbs and Their Positions

Different types of adverbs go in different places:

A) Adverbs of Manner

a) They usually go in end position; e.g.

She ate quickly.

b) They sometimes go in mid position if the adverb is not the most important part of the sentence. Well, Fast, Quickly, Carefully, Calmly, etc. are generally placed after the verb or after the object if there is one; e.g.

i) She danced beautifully. (After the verb as there is no object)
ii) He gave her the money reluctantly. (After the object MONEY)
iii) They speak English well. (After the object ENGLISH)

NOTE-I: We do not put an adverb between verb and object; e.g.

INCORRECT: They speak well English.
CORRECT: They speak English well.

NOTE-II: If the object of the verb is short, we have VERB + OBJECT  + ADVERB. But if the object is long we usually place the adverb before the verb; e.g.

i) He gave me his shirt gladly. (Short object – his shirt)
ii) She chose her words carefully. (Short object – her words)
iii) She carefully picked up all the torn pieces of the paper. (long object – all the torn pieces of the paper)
iv) He angrily denied that he had stolen the documents. (long object – that he had stolen the documents)

NOTE-III: When it’s a VERB + PREPOSITION + OBJECT construction, the adverb can be placed either before the preposition or after the verb; e.g.

He looked at me suspiciously.
= He looked suspiciously at me.

But if the prepositional phrase is rather long, the adverb is placed immediately after the verb; e.g.

INCORRECT: She looked at everyone suspiciously who got off the bus.
CORRECT: She looked suspiciously at everyone who got off the bus.

NOTE-IV: If an adverb is placed after a clause or a phrase, it is normally qualify the verb in that clause/phrase; e.g.

i) We secretly decided to leave our home.

[The adverb is placed close to the verb of the subject, so it’s qualifying the verb DECIDED; means the decision was secret.]

ii) We decided to leave our home secretly.

[The adverb is placed after the phrase (to leave our home), so it’s qualifying the verb of this phrase, which is LEAVE; means the departure (leaving) was to be secret.)]

NOTE-V: Adverbs concerned with character and intelligence like Foolishly, Generously, Kindly, Stupidly, etc., when placed before a verb, indicate that the action was foolish/kind/generous etc. However when these adverbs are placed after the verb or after verb + object, the meaning then changes; e.g.

CASE-I (Such adverbs when placed before the verb)

i) I foolishly forgot my documents.
ii) He kindly waited for me.
iii) Would you kindly wait?

Above idea can be expressed in the following manner also:

i) It was foolish of me to forget my documents.
ii) It was kind of him to wait.
iii) Would you be kind enough to wait?

CASE-II (Such adverbs when placed after the verb or after verb + object)

i) He spoke kindly. (Means his voice and words were kind)
ii) She paid us generously. (Means she paid more than the usual rate)

i) He foolishly answered the questions. (His manner of answering was foolish.)
ii) He answered the questions foolishly. (His answers were foolish.)

NOTE-VI: BADLY and WELL can be used as adverbs of manner or degree. As adverbs of manner they come after a verb in the active voice or after the object in the manner stated above; and before the past participle (V3) in a passive verb; e.g.

i) He danced badly. (Verb in the Active Voice)
ii) He read well. (Verb in the Active Voice)
iii) She speaks English well. (Verb in the Active Voice)
iv) He paid her badly. (Verb in the Active Voice)
v) She was badly (Verb in the Passive Voice)
vi) The trip was well organised. (Verb in the Passive Voice)

BADLY as an adverb of degree usually comes after the object or before the verb in the Active Voice, in the Passive Voice it comes before the past participle (V3); e.g.

The door needs a coat of paint badly.
= The door badly needs a coat of paint.

INCORRECT: My car was damaged badly in the accident.
CORRECT: My car was badly damaged in the accident.

WELL as the degree of manner and WELL as the adverb of degree have the same position. The meaning of WELL may depend on its position; e.g.

a) You know well that I can’t drive (There can be no doubt in your mind about this)
b) You know that I can’t drive well. (I’m not a good driver.)

WELL can be placed after MAY/MIGHT/COULD to emphasise the probability of an action; e.g.

He may well refuse. (means it is quite likely that he will refuse)

B) Adverbs of Place

a) They usually go in end position

i) Can you come over here?
ii) We’ll be at the table there.

b) They sometimes go in front position, especially in writing; e.g.

i) Here she sat.
ii) Outside, there was a small pond.

C) Adverbs of Time

a) They usually go in end position; e.g.

I’m flying to Mumbai tomorrow.

b) They sometimes go in front position especially if we want to emphasise the adverb; e.g.

Today, I’m going to clean the house.

D) Adverbs of Duration

They usually go in end position; e.g.

I’m not staying long.

E) Adverbs of Frequency

a) They usually go in mid position; e.g.

i) We often have friends to stay.
ii) We usually have breakfast at eight.
iii) I could never swim fast.
iv) I never go for a morning walk.
v) He has never seen a lion.
vi) He has just gone out to buy bread.

b) They sometimes go in front position. Always, Ever and Never do not usually go in front position; e.g.

Sometimes she wore a woolen hat.

INCORRECT: Never I could swim fast.
CORRECT: I could never swim fast.

c) They can also go in end position; e.g.

We don’t see them very often.

F) Adverbs of Degree

a) Really, Very and Quite usually go in mid position; e.g.

I really like those pink flowers.

b) A lot and A bit usually go in end position; e.g.

i) We go to Mumbai a lot.
ii) I’d just like to change things a bit.

G) Adverbs of Focusing

They usually go in mid position; e.g.

He simply walked without saying a word.

H) Adverbs of Certainty or Obligation

a) Some go in mid position: Probably, Possibly, Certainly; e.g.

It’ll probably rain.

b) Others go in mid position: Maybe, Perhaps. Or they go in end positions after a comma; e.g.

i) Maybe Rahul will know the answer.
ii) Can I get you a drink or something to eat, perhaps?

I) Adverbs of Viewpoint

a) They usually go outside the clause, often at the beginning; e.g.

Personally, I’d rather not go out.

b) They can sometimes go in mid position, especially in formal writing, e.g.

This must, frankly, be the craziest idea anyone has ever had.

J) Adverbs of Evaluative (forming or giving an opinion of the amount, value or quality of something after thinking about it carefully)

a) They usually go outside the clause; e.g.

Unfortunately, I forgot my swimming costume so I had to sit on the side and watch.

b) They can sometimes go in mid position; e.g.

We have stupidly forgotten the tickets.

c) In informal speaking they can go in end position; e.g.

They missed the bus, apparently.

K) Position with HERE and THERE, when they don’t indicate a place

If the subject is a pronoun (it/he/she/you etc.), it comes directly after the adverbs HERE and THERE. If the subject is a noun, it comes directly before the verb; e.g.

INCORRECT: Here is she.
CORRECT: Here she is.

INCORRECT: There goes it.
CORRECT: There it goes.

INCORRECT: Here the bus comes.
CORRECT: Here comes the bus.

4. Order of adverbs

If we use more than one adverb in a sentence, there is a general order in which the different categories of adverbs should appear—this is known as the order of adverbs (sometimes called the royal order of adverbs):

a) Manner
b) Place
c) Frequency
d) Time
e) Purpose

Of course, it is uncommon to use five adverbs in a row to modify the same word, but if a sentence uses two or three, then it is best to follow this order to avoid sounding unnatural; e.g.

I have to run quickly (manner) down the street (place) each morning (frequency) after breakfast (time) in order to catch my bus to school (purpose).”

More examples:

a) He knelt quietly [manner] in the shadow [place] of the rock.
b) He started off slowly[manner] in the beginning [time].
c) Sonu played brilliantly [manner] in the match [place] on Saturday [time].

NOTE-I: However, if a clause contains an adverb of manner and an adverb of direction such as DOWN, OUT or HOME, the adverb of direction is usually put in front of the adverb of manner; e.g.

a) Rahul drove home fast.
b) I reached down slowly.

NOTE-II: Adverbs of different types can be placed together, sometimes separated by commas, but adverbs of the same type, for example two adverbs of manner, are usually linked by conjunctions such as AND and BUT, or structures such as RATHER THAN.; e.g.

a) She sang clearly and beautifully.
b) They help to combat the problem at source, rather than superficially.
c) Seema was breathing quietly and evenly.
d) They walk up and down, smiling.

NOTE-III: When you link contrasting adverbs, you put BUT or YET between them; e.g.

Quickly but silently she darted out of the cell.

NOTE-IV: If you want to say that neither of two adverbs applies, you use a negative sentence with OR between the adverbs, or put NEITHER in front of the first adverb and NOR in front of the second one; e.g.

a) They will not come down very quickly or very fast.
b) The story ends neither happily nor unhappily.

NOTE-V: Both single-word adverbs and adverbial phrases will be referred to together as ADVERBS throughout this section.

Introductory adverbs
As you may have noticed when we looked at the different categories of adverbs, adverbs can appear in different places in a sentence. When an adverb is used at the beginning a sentence, it results in a great deal of emphasis. Depending on the sentence, we can do this with nearly any category of adverb regardless of the order of adverbs—although we must always be careful that doing so does not make the sentence awkward or alter its meaning; e.g.

In order to catch my bus to school (purpose), I have to run quickly (manner) down the street (place) each morning (frequency) after breakfast (time).”

NOTE-I: Placing the adverb of purpose at the beginning of the sentence doesn’t alter the meaning in any way—instead, it gives the adverb extra emphasis and highlights the purpose of the entire sentence; e.g.

Each morning (frequency), I have to run quickly (manner) down the street (place) after breakfast (time) in order to catch my bus to school (purpose).”

NOTE-II: We can also do this with the adverb of time, but in this instance it has to be moved with the adverb of frequency; otherwise, the sentence sounds awkward. For example, compare these two sentence constructions:

a) Each morning (frequency) after breakfast (time), I have to run quickly (manner) down the street (place) in order to catch my bus to school (purpose). (correct)
b) After breakfast (time), I have to run quickly (manner) down the street (place) each morning (frequency) in order to catch my bus to school (purpose). (incorrect)

[We can see that the adverb of time sounds awkward when it is placed by itself at the beginning of this particular sentence.]

Short vs. long adverbs
Generally speaking, we also tend to put adverbs that are shorter and more concise before those that are longer, regardless of which category they belong to (though we must make sure that the information’s meaning doesn’t change as a result); e.g.

a) I lived with my parents (place) to save money (purpose) while I was working on my doctorate (time).
b) He dances every night (frequency) in the most extraordinary way (manner).

Multiple adverbs of the same category
When we use multiple adverbs of the same category to modify the same verb, we order them based on how specific the information is that they provide; e.g.

a) On my father’s ranch (place), I often (frequency) helped gather the animals at the end of the day (specific time) when I was younger (non-specific time).
b) I lived at home (more specific place) with my parents (less specific place) to save money (purpose) while I was working on my doctorate (time).

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Maha Gupta

Maha Gupta

Founder of www.examscomp.com and guiding aspirants on SSC exam affairs since 2010 when objective pattern of exams was introduced first in SSC. Also the author of the following books:

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