Adverbs are used to modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs by describing, qualifying, or limiting them.

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In honor of Don Draper, we like to call these puppies Madverbs. Okay, that might be pushing the envelope of Grammar Geekdom… but there is a startling comparison to be made between adverbs and advertisements. How? They answer the following questions:

  • How?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • How often?
  • To what extent?

Let's look at some examples:

  • Marvin chews loudly. (how)
  • The #50 bus will arrive soon. (when)
  • Tina stood there. (where)
  • The kitten jumped on the coffee table repeatedly. (how often)
  • The cop completely believed my excuse for speeding. (to what extent)

Wait—how is this like advertising? Well, it tells the reader (without much room for nuance at all) how they should perceive the product, er, verb.

A Snickers commercial will tell you This product makes you less hungry in a way that is not subtle at all. An adverb will tell you This verb was done slowly… in a way that is not subtle at all.

Got it? Good.

So where should you put all of these handy adverbs? We'll tell you. An adverb that modifies a verb can show up almost anywhere in a sentence:

  • Finally, she finished chugging her Gatorade.
  • She finally finished chugging her Gatorade.
  • She finished chugging her Gatorade finally.

An adverb that modifies an adjective or another adverb usually comes right before the word it modifies:

  • Gym is an extremely important class.
  • You must write very clearly on your driver's test.

Otherwise you end up with an "extremely class" or a "very test"… which… no.


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