Correct Use of Adverbs

Correct Use of Adverbs

Learning and applying the rules of English is very important. Grammatically correct sentences makes an impact on the listener and also you get a boost to your confidence. Here in this article we will learn the correct use of adverbs.

Correct use of adverb

An adverb is a word which modifies of verb, an adjective or another adverb in a given sentence.


  • She is a reading(Verb) very(adverb) fast.
  • She is very(adverb) intelligent(adjective) girl.
  • The horse runs very quickly(adverb).

Note: Usually the adverbs and with -ly

Also Learn correct use of verb

Rule 1

In order to make our meaning clear, an adverb must be placed as near as possible to the word it modifies.


  • She has only(adverb) three(adjective) dollars with her.
  • He says he often visits my place.
  • He Often says he visits my place.

Note: Other adverbs like only are: just, nearly, hardly, almost and scarcely.

Read the following examples

Wrong: We only have 4 hours to finish this paper.

Right: We have only 4 hours to finish this paper.

Wrong: She just wants to take one class.[Not anything else]

Right: She wants to take just one class.[Not even second]

Wrong: That building nearly costs 60000 rupees.

Right: That building costs nearly 60 thousand rupees.

Rule 2

When an adverb modifies an intransitive verb, it usually follows it.


  • She sang melodiously
  • She writes neatly

Rule 3

When a verb consists of an auxiliary and a main verb, the adverb which qualifies is placed between the auxiliary and the main verb.

Wrong: I have told him often not to come late.

Right: I have often told him not to come late.

Rule 4

When an adverb modifiers and adjective of another adverb, the adverb usually comes before it.


  • The cuckoo sings quite sweetly(adverb)
  • Do not speak so fast(Adverb)

Note: The adverb ‘enough’ is always placed after the word it modifies.

  • Why don’t you speak loud enough to be heard.

Rule 5

The word ‘only’ should be placed before the word it is intended to modify.


  • Only she gave me this book. (i.e. she and nobody else)
  • She only told me the truth. (and nothing else)
  • I solved only 2 problems. (correct)
  • I only solve two problems. (incorrect)

Rule 6

Position of correct use of adverb

The position of adverbs is often determined by shades of meaning, for which rules cannot be given, but some generalization can be made.

Adverbs of frequency

always, often, rarely, never, ever, generally, usually, sometimes, occasionally etc

  • If the verb is in the simplest tense form, the adverb is usually placed between the subject and the verb ,preferably before the verb it modifies.
    • He always goes to college on foot.
    • He often visits the US.
    • His brother never takes alcohol
  • When the verb is some form of ‘to be’ (is, am, was, are) the adverb follows the verb:
    • They are always late.
    • He is never punctual.
    • If you are ever in trouble, please meet me.

If the verb is a compound one, the adverb is usually placed after the auxiliary:

  • I shall never forget his help.
  • He will always behave properly.

In negative sentences the adverb of frequency follows not.

  • They are not often late.

In interrogative sentences the adverb of frequency follows the subject immediately:

  • Does he often go fishing?
  • Has he ever traveled by air?

At times ‘often’ may be placed at and to emphasize it. This is mainly confined to negative statements and questions.

  • He doesn’t see his friend often, as he lives in a remote village.

‘Never’ is sometimes placed at the beginning to emphasize at. Then the verb and subject are inverted as in a question.

  • I never saw Such an accident
  • Never did I see Such an accident
  • Subject verb becomes Verb Subject here

Rule 7


(A) Hard as an adverb means ‘Diligently’. It usually follows the verb.

He works hard to make both ends meet.

(B) Hardly when used as an adverb means scarcely, barely.

It conveys a negative meaning.

Hardly (scarcely) had he reached the station, when the train left.

Note: Hardly and Scarcely are followed by when not than. No sooner is followed by than not when or then(This is very important)

(C) Scarce as an adjective means ‘not plentiful’ hard to find, not often found.

Coal has become scarce in England.

Scarcely as an adverb is almost synonymous with ‘hardly’.

  • I can scarcely hear you.
  • They have scarcely enough money to look after their children.

Rule 8

Split infinitive

The infinitive is to  + the simple form of verb.

Do not put an adverb between to and verb.

  • He refused to do(to+verb) the work quickly.(adjective)
  • They have decided to repeat(to+verb) the experiments carefully(adjective)

Wrong: He wanted to carefully read the directions.

Right: he wanted to read the directions carefully.

Rule 9 

Dangling modifier

The subject of the main clause must be the same as the understood subject of the introductory phrase. In other words, the introductory phrase modifies the subject of the main clause.


  • Looking at his watch(Introductory phrase) Mr.Vijay Kumar(Subject) got up and left.
    • Who looked at his watch?  Mr.Vijay Kumar
    • Who got up and left? Mr. Vijay Kumar
  • Travelling from Bombay(Introductory Phrase) Nalini(Subject) injured her leg.

Note: Both these sentences are right. In both these sentences, the subject of the introductory phrase and the subject of the main clause are same.

Wrong: When only a baby, my mother took me to the circus.

Right: When only a child, I was taken to the circus by my mother.

Correct the following statements 

  • She was so quiet that hardly he noticed her
  • My friend only wants to borrow rupees 10000
  • he worked hardly for the examination and got first division
  • The judge hardly entered the court room and the advocate stood up and created him
  • No sooner did I got to the railway station when the train left.


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