I have an adult, intermediate student who struggles with where to put adverbs in a sentence and so, I recently did a couple of one-one lessons with her about adverbs and realised that the subject is absolutely massive!
To break it down, this is what I did – over 2 x 1.5 hour lessons with homework on top:
WHAT ARE ADVERBS AND WHY ARE THEY USED?
1. Explained what adverbs are with a few examples. Here, I gave out a list, which outlined the different types of adverbs with a list of examples, such as the list below.
- manner (describe how something happens) – well, beautifully, terribly, quietly, noisily, lovingly, kookily, greedily, nicely, frankly, naturally, neatly, oddly, hungrily, gently, slowly, quickly, loudly, together, independently, …
- place (describe where something happens) – here, there, everywhere, nowhere, inwardly, outwardly, nearby, far, then, away, upward, downward, up, down, inside, indoors, outside, outdoors, home, homeward, backward, forwards, southward, abroad, …
- time (describe how long or when something happens) – before, after, still, yet, punctually, today, tomorrow, suddenly, yesterday, recently, later, often, …
- frequency (describe how often something happens) – always, never, sometimes, often, seldom, yearly, daily, weekly, nightly, periodically, sporadically, rarely, frequently, regularly, normally, occasionally…
- degree (describe to what degree something happens) – almost, nearly, barely, scarcely, quite, just, hardly, totally, fully, less, too, thoroughly, weakly, half-heartedly, whole-heartedly, extremely, enough, completely, very, enough, …
- certainty (describe how probable it is that something will happen) – definitely, probably, certainly, surely, undoubtedly, likely, doubtlessly, unquestionably, indubitably, absolutely…
IDENTIFYING ADVERBS – PRACTICE
2. I then broke the sections down into manageable chunks. I started with manner, then worked on adverbs of place, then time and frequency. I then looked at adverbs of degree and certainty. We did activities to first of all identify adverbs in a sentence. Then, we worked out rules for the adverb placement.
3. We repeated this activity for the different sections of adverbs to ensure that the student understood exactly what adverbs went where in a sentence and why.
4. It was at this point that I thought that it was a good time to introduce rules in a table format, so we looked at the following table (which was found on the internet – unfortunately, I forgot to note down the source.)
ADVERB PLACEMENT TABLE
|beginning of clause/sentence||usually, normally, often, frequently, sometimes and occasionallyNOT: always, ever, rarely, seldom and never*||Usually we see him at church.Last night we went dancing.|
|end of the clause/sentence||usually, normally, often, frequently, sometimes and occasionallyNOT: always, ever, rarely, seldom and never*
adverbs of time: today, every week, finally, already, soon
adverbs of manner (how something is done): slowly, suddenly, badly, quietly
|We’ve performed there occasionally.Where did you eat yesterday?All the bedrooms are upstairs.
Have you taken the TOEFL yet?
Have you eaten dinner already?
She sang that aria very well.
He drives competently.
|middle of sentence|
|after BE verbafter auxiliary verb
before other verbs
|adverbs of certainty: certainly, definitely, clearly, obviously, probably||They are definitely suited for each other.They’ll probably arrive late.He has apparently passed the class.
They obviously forgot to read the directions.
|after BE verbafter auxiliary verbsbefore other verbs||adverbs of frequency: never, rarely, sometimes, often. usually, always, ever
|He is rarely morose.We have never eaten Moroccan food.He always takes flowers to his girlfriend.
She quite often invites people for Thanksgiving.
They almost never go to the theater.
|after BE verbafter auxiliary verbsbefore other verbs||focusing adverbs: even, only, also, mainly, justadverbs of time: already, still, yet, finally, eventually, soon, last, just||He is only five years old.We don’t even know his name.We’ve already eaten dinner.
He also rents chainsaws.
I am finally ready.
He is still planning to go tonight.
We just finished painting the house.
|after BE verbafter auxiliary verbsbefore other verbs||adverbs of manner (how something is done): slowly, suddenly, badly, quietly||She is slowly finishing her PhD.He has carefully gathered the evidence.We methodically checked all the bags.|
* always and never can begin imperative sentences. Never argue with the referee. Always wear your seatbelt.
We also looked at another worksheet, which I thought also gave some valuable rules to follow.
We ran out of time by this point, so I gave the student a work sheet to practice what we had gone over in the lesson (mixed gap fill + identifying why the adverbs were used), as well as some activities from “English Grammar in Use” 3rd Edition to do at home, on word order + adverbs. This actually included adverbs that we had not fully explored in the lesson (probably, hardly ever, also, always, usually for example). I gave her a photocopy of unit 110 and asked her to have a go without reading the rules.
She completed the mixed adverbs sheet really well. There were a few issues that we went over, but generally, she had grasped the concept of adverbs of manner, time and frequency and why they were used in the positions they are used in.
On the other hand, my student had found the adverbs activity from English Grammar in Use very difficult. About 50% of answers were incorrect, so I put a line next to the answers that were incorrect. I then asked her to read the explanation from the book to see whether she could correct the examples herself. She did, very well. What this shows is that without rules, she had problems. She wasn’t sure where to put adverbs, such as “probably”, “always”, “hardly ever” when using “to be” and other verbs. She corrected her work herself, once she had read the rules and understood her problems much more than if I had corrected the sentences for her.
We recapped the main rules for using “probably”, “always”, “also” and “hardly ever”, which she told me herself from her corrected examples. I said that I would provide her with more personalised practice using these (questions about her, where she must use the adverbs that we have already looked at) so that she knows that she had grasped the subject 100%. We will also re-cap ADVERBS in about a month with more controlled and free practice.
Let me know if you have any better ways of teaching adverbs, I’d love to improve on this lesson for the future!
OTHER USEFUL RULES THAT I PRINTED OUT
Adverbs modify verbs. They tell you how something is done.
She sings beautifully.
They drive carefully.
She eats her food slowly.
Rule: Adverbs are often formed by adding -ly to an adjective
Example: beautiful – beautifully, careful – carefully
- Some adjectives don’t change in the adverb form. The most important of these are: fast – fast, hard – hard
- Good is probably the most important exception. The adverb form of ‘good’ is ‘well’.
He speaks English well.
Tom plays tennis very well.
Rule: Adverbs can also modify an adjective. In this case, the adverb is placed before the adjective.
She is extremely happy.
They are absolutely sure.
- Do not use ‘very’ with adjectives that express an increased quality of a basic adjective Example: good – fantastic
She is an absolutely fantastic piano player.
Mark is a very good public speaker. In fact, he is an absolutely amazing lecturer.
Rule: Adverbs of frequency (always, never, sometimes, often, etc.) usually come before the main verb:
He is often late for class.
Do you always eat in a restaurant?
They don’t usually travel on Fridays.
- Adverbs of frequency expressing infrequency are not used in the negative or question form.
- Some adverbs of frequency are sometimes placed at the beginning of a sentence. The most common of include ‘sometimes’ and ‘often’.
Sometimes, I enjoy staying at home instead of going on vacation.
Often, Peter will telephone his mother before he leaves for work.
- Adverbs of frequency follow – come after – the verb ‘to be’.
He is sometimes late for work.
I am often confused by computers.
The Five Types of Adverbs
Adverbs of Manner: Adverbs of manner provide information on how someone does something.
For example: Jack drives very carefully.
Adverbs of Time: Adverbs of time provide information on when something happens.
For example: We’ll let you know our decision next week.
Adverbs of Frequency: Adverbs of frequency provide information on how often something happens.
For example: They usually get to work at eight o’clock.
Adverbs of Degree: Adverbs of degree provide information concerning how much of something is done. For example: They like playing golf a lot.
Adverbs of Comment: Adverbs of comment provide a comment, or opinion about a situation.
For example: Fortunately, there were enough seats left for the concert.
Adverbs are usually formed by adding ‘-ly’ to an adjective.
For example: quiet – quietly, careful – carefully, careless – carelessly
Adjectives ending in ‘-le’ change to ‘-ly’.
For example: possible – possibly, probable – probably, incredible – incredibly
Adjectives ending in ‘-y’ change to ‘-ily’.
For example: lucky – luckily, happy – happily, angry – angrily
Adjectives ending in ‘-ic’ change to ‘-ically’.
For example: basic – basically, ironic – ironically, scientific – scientifically Some adjectives are irregular. The most common irregular adverbs are: good – well, hard – hard, fast -fast
Adverb Sentence Placement
Adverbs of Manner: Adverbs of manner are placed after the verb or entire expression (at the end of the sentence).
For example: Their teacher speaks quickly.
Adverbs of Time: Adverbs of time are placed after the verb or entire expression (at the end of the sentence).
For example: She visited her friends last year.
Adverbs of Frequency: Adverbs of frequency are placed before the main verb (not the auxiliary verb).
For example: He often goes to bed late. Do you sometimes get up early?
Adverbs of Degree: Adverbs of degree are placed after the verb or entire expression (at the end of the sentence).
For example: She’ll attend the meeting as well.
Adverbs of Comment: Adverbs of comment are placed at the beginning of a sentence.
For example: Luckily, I was able to come to the presentation.
Important Exceptions to Adverb Placement
Some adverbs are placed at the beginning of a sentence to provide more emphasis.
For example: Now you tell me you can’t come!
Adverbs of frequency are placed after the verb ‘to be’ when used as the main verb of the sentence.
For example: Jack is often late for work.
Some adverbs of frequency (sometimes, usually, normally) are also placed at the beginning of the sentence for emphasis.
For example: Sometimes I visit my friends in London.
(taken from the internet)