Adjectives and adverbs

Meaning and use – Adjectives and adverbs-

Adjectives and adverbs are words that we use to describe or modify other words.

Adjectives are used to tell us about nouns or pronouns. They give us information about what someone or something is like.

  • Can you pass me the yellow pen please?
  • Are you happy?

Adverbs tell us about verbs, adjectives or other adverbs. They give us information about how someone does something or the way that something happens.

  • He walked slowly to his car. (This tells us about the verb ‘to walk’. It tells is how he walked.)
  • It was a very sunny day. (This refers to the adjective ‘sunny’. It tells us how sunny it was.)
  • He finished the exam really quickly(This tells us about the adverb ‘quickly’. It tells us how quickly he finished.)

Form – Adjectives

Most common adjectives have no particular form. There is nothing about their structure that shows they are an adjective.

happy, sad, light, green, quick, busy, large

Some adjectives are made by adding a suffix to a noun or verb.

  • Fun – funny
  • Week – weekly
  • Child – childlike
  • Fool – foolish
  • Care – careful
  • Accept – acceptable

Form – Adverbs

Like adjectives there is no regular structure to adverbs.

Soonwellnever, quiteoften, already, just

Many adverbs can be made by adding the suffix –ly to an adjective.

  • Sad – sadly
  • Serious – seriously
  • Quiet – quietly
  • Total – totally
  • Careful – carefully
  • Sleepy – sleepily
  • Slow – slowly

Take Note: -ly

Not all words that end in –ly are adverbs. There are many other word types that end in –ly.

  • That was a silly thing to do. (Adjective)
  • He was a bully at school. (Noun)
  • You have to apply for the job. (Verb)

Take note: ‘irregular’ forms

Some adjectives have adverbial forms that are irregular or even identical. There may not be –ly forms of these words and if there are, they have unconnected meanings.

Good / well

  • She is a good player. (Adjective)
  • He played well tonight. (Adverb)

There were a goodly number of people there. (Adjective, old-fashioned, means large or high in terms of number of people and is not a positive comment about someone’s ability or skill.)

 Late / Late

  • Sorry I was late. (Adjective)
  • He arrived late. (Adverb)

Lately you’ve been doing really well. (Adverb – lately means recently and does not refer to punctuality.)

 Fast / Fast

  • I like fast cars. (Adjectives)
  • She likes driving fast. (Adverb)

Hard / hard

  • It was a hard exam. (Adjective)
  • He works and plays hard. (Adverb)

He hardly goes to school. (Adverb – here it means ‘not very often’ and is not related to difficulty or intensity.)