Adverbs are words that describe or modify verbs, adjectives, other adverbs or clauses. They can be a single word, a phrase or a clause. Adverbs generally answer one of these four questions about the entity they modify: How? When? Where? and Why?
In this sentence, the adverb “quickly” modifies the verb “grabbed” by defining the How aspect of the action. How did Kim grab the last cookie? She grabbed it “quickly”.
Here, the adverb “completely” modifies the adjective “dark”. How dark was the room? It was completely dark.
In this sentence, the adverb “happily” describes the verb “accepted”. How did Ria accept the new project? She did so happily.
In this sentence, the adverb “very” describes the adverb “happily”. How happily did Ria accept the new project? She did so very happily. So here the adverb presents the extent or degree of happiness.
Here, “Surprisingly” describes the entire main clause.
How are Adverbs formed?
Most of the single-word adverbs end with “ly”. For example, “quickly”, “completely”, “happily”, and “surprisingly” are all adverbs ending with “ly”.
However, there are a few words that are not adverbs despite ending with “ly”. For example, “lonely”, “lively”, “lovely”. Even if they end with “ly”, these words are adjectives that modify nouns or pronouns. So you must not blindly consider any “ly” ending word an adverb. Always go by the meaning and role of the word!
Furthermore, there are many adverbs that do not have a specific ending. For example: next, often, very, seldom etc.
So as you saw above, adverbs can describe any entity in the sentence except nouns and pronouns. They can describe verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, and even complete clauses. You also saw that the adverbs in these examples are single words. Now, apart from single words, phrases and clauses can also act as adverbs.
Adverbs – Words, Phrases, and Clauses
We learned that adverbs are words that describe verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, and clauses. For example:
In this sentence, the adverb “happily” describes the verb “accepted”. How did Ria accept the new project? She did so happily. Furthermore, the adverb “very” describes the adverb “happily”. How happily did Ria accept the new project? She did so very happily. So here the adverb presents the extent or degree of happiness.
Now apart from just words, even phrases and clauses can act as adverbs. For example:
Notice here that “at 9 pm” is a prepositional phrase. Prepositional phrases can modify nouns as well as verbs. Those prepositional phrases that modify verbs act as adverbs. In this sentence, the prepositional phrase “at 9 pm” modifies the verb “finished”. It talks about the “when” aspect of this action.
In this sentence, the prepositional phrase “with an egg beater” describes how Mary mixed the cake.
Here, the dependent clause “because she did not want to give them to her brother” is an adverb because it modifies the verb of the preceding main clause. Why did Nancy hide the marbles? She did so because she did not want to give them to her brother.
So as you saw in the above four example sentences, adverbs provide a little more information about the entity that they describe, and adverbs can be a single word or a phrase or a clause.
Adverbs can also be used to make comparisons. When we make comparisons, we need to use adverbs in their comparative or superlative forms.
Adverbs – for comparisons
We learned that adverbs are used to describe other verbs, other adverbs, adjectives, or clauses. While describing these entities adverbs can also present comparison. And when they do so, they should be used in the appropriate comparative or superlative forms.
When we compare an aspect of two entities, we add “more” or “less” before the adverb to make it a comparative adverb. For example:
a. Jack goes to swim more frequently than his sister Jill.
b. Jill understood the concept of probability less quickly than that of coordinate geometry.
When we compare an aspect of more than two entities, then we use adverbs in the superlative form. In order to make an adverb superlative, we need to add “most” or “least” before the adverb. For example:
a. The quality of the project showed that Amy’s was the most hastily done project in the class.
b. Prof. Roy always raises the least frequently discussed topics in philosophy.
So always be sure to use adverbs in their correct form. Add the word “more” or “less” when you compare two entities. Likewise use the word “most” or “least” when you compare more than two entities.
Prepositions are words that link or connect a noun or a pronoun to other words to show the relation of that noun or pronoun with other words. Prepositions always appear in prepositional phrase, that is, they begin with a preposition and end with a noun or a noun phrase.
Prepositions are always followed by Noun
They generally describe place (in, out, above), time (during, by, at), and movement (to, towards). For example:
Here, “by” describes the place where the family sits during winters.
Here “to” presents movement of the Siberian birds from one place to warmer countries. Preposition “during” shows which time of the year do Siberian birds fly to warmer countries.
Notice that “to” is sometimes followed by a verb. For example: I like to sing. In this usage, “to” is NOT a preposition; it is an infinitive.
by the time
Conjunctions are words that join different parts of sentences together. There are following types of conjunctions:
1. Coordinating Conjunctions
These conjunctions join together nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, clauses, and propositional phrases. These conjunctions are – For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So. The popular acronym for these conjunctions is FANBOYS.
a. Mary wanted to perform at the concert tonight, but her health did not permit her. (joining two independent clauses)
b. Samuel went to Paris to see the Eifel Tower and to write his thesis. (Joining two “to verb” phrases)
2. Subordinating Conjunctions
These conjunctions join a clause to another to communicate the full meaning of the sentence. They may provide a necessary transition between the two ideas in two clauses in the sentence. This transition can indicate a time, a place or a cause and effect relationship.
a. The teacher will announce the date of assessment once all the students submit their projects.
b. John watched his favorite TV show after he finished his project.
c. Since Amy was getting late for the concert, she asked her friends to meet her directly at the venue.
They may also reduce the importance of one clause to make the more important idea of the two obvious. The more important idea lies in the main clause, while the less important idea lies in the clause followed by the subordinating conjunction.
a. Although the day is pleasant, it does not look apt for picnic.
b. As he saw his father approaching, Joe hung up the phone.
3. Correlative Conjunctions
Some conjunctions are used in pairs. They connect two equal grammatical entities. These conjunctions are Either…Or, Neither…Nor, Not Only…But Also, Both…And, etc. Always make sure that the entities following the two conjunctions are grammatically and logically parallel to each other.
Entities parallel – Verb phrases = “baked the cake” and “cooked the sumptuous meal”.
Entities parallel – prepositional phrase = “about the physical development of the students” and “about their mental development”.
Articles are a kind of modifier that modifies noun entities. Their modification denotes whether we are talking about a specific entity or a non-specific entity and hence can be divided into two categories:
‘A’ and ‘an’ are called the indefinite articles because they each refer to an object that is not specific. These two articles are used only with singular noun entities. For example:
Whether to use “a” or “an” before a noun entity depends upon the sound of that entity. If the noun entity begins with a vowel sound, we use “an” before it. For example: an apple, an ocean, an honest man, an MBA, etc.
If the noun entity begins with a consonant sound, we use “a” before it. For example: a bat, a horse, a university, a useful article, etc.
“The” is called the definite article as it refers to a specific noun entity. “The” can be used with both singular and plural noun entities. For example:
a. The man in the blue shirt is my school friend.
b. The pens that you gave me yesterday are not there in my bag.
The Definite Article is used in several cases. Here are a few of the most commonly used scenarios:
1. When we talk about a particular person or thing, or one already referred to. Note that the context clearly indicates this specific noun. For example:
a. The book you want is not available now.
b. The movie is doing really well.
2. When a singular noun is meant to represent a whole class/species. For example:
a. The dog is a very faithful pet.
b. The bamboo is a kind of grass.
3. Before some proper names, such as the names of oceans and seas, rivers, deserts, mountain-ranges, groups of islands, a few countries that have “republic” or “kingdom” in their names. For example:
a. The Himalayas have some very difficult trekking tracks.
b. The Nile is the longest river of the world.
4. Before the names of certain books. For example: the Iliad, the Bible, etc.
5. Before the names of things that are unique. For example: the sun, the earth, etc.
6. With superlatives. For example: the best presentation, the most extraordinary game, etc.
7. Before musical instruments. For example: Krishna plays the flute.
8. With words representing the rank of a number with respect to some order, in particular order or position (i.e. first, second, third, etc.). For example:
a. Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, died a few days ago.
b. I love the eighth chapter of this novel.
9. Before the adjective when the noun is understood. For example:
10. As an adverb with comparatives. For example:
11. Before the adjectives when they are followed by a proper noun. For example: the holy Bible, the great Caesar, etc.