Adverbs: Position of Adverbs

  • Position of adverbs

Adverbs of manner which answer the question ‘How?’ normally comes immediately after the verb or after the object if there is one.

  1. It is raining heavily.
  2. She combed her hair gently. (NOT She combed gently her hair.)
  3. She speaks English well. (NOT She speaks well English.)
  4. He walked slowly.

Adverbs of place (e.g. here, there, everywhere, nowhere, on the roof etc.) and Adverbs of time (now, then, today, tomorrow, next week etc.) are usually placed after the verb or after the object if there is one.

  1. I saw him yesterday.
  2. I looked everywhere but couldn’t find anything.
  3. Hang the picture there.
  4. They are coming next week.

When two or more adverbs modify the same verb, they usually come in the following order: adverbs of manner, adverbs of place, and adverbs of time.

  1. We will go there tomorrow evening.
  2. He performed well at the concert last night.

Adverbs of frequency which answer the question ‘How often?’ (e.g. always, often, rarely, frequently etc.) and some other adverbs like hardly, almost, nearly, just, quite etc., are normally put between the subject and the verb if the verb consists of only one word. If there is more than one word in the verb, the adverb comes after the first word.

  1. You never visit us.
  2. I have always wanted to be a writer.
  3. I have often told him to mend his ways.
  4. We usually have breakfast at night.

If the verb is a form of be (is/am/are/was/were) these adverbs are placed after the verb.

  1. I am never late for office.
  2. We are just off.

Adverbs are usually placed before the auxiliaries ‘have to’ and ‘used to’.

  1. He always used to agree with me.
  2. I often have to wake up early in the morning.

An adverb modifying an adjective or another adverb normally comes before the word it modifies.

  1. She was quite tired.
  2. He is a rather lazy boy.

Adverbs should be placed next to the word or words they modify.

He had almost got to the top when the rope broke. (Here the adverb almost modifies the verb got.)

     As a general rule, the adverb only should come immediately before the word it modifies.

  1. I solved only two problems.
  2. Only John managed to solve the problem.
  3. Praise them only when the deserve it.

In spoken English, only is usually placed before the verb. The intended meaning is conveyed by stressing the word which ‘only’ modifies.

He only solved two problems. (The word ‘two’ is stressed.)

     Two negatives destroy each other. Hence they should not be placed in the same sentence unless our intention is to make an affirmation.

  1. I haven’t got any money. (NOT I haven’t got no money.)
  2. I could not find him anywhere. (NOT I could not find him nowhere.)
  3. Hardly anyone believes in such ghost stories these days. (NOT Hardly no one believes in such ghost stories these days.)

Adjectives can’t be used to modify verbs.

  1. He ate the cake greedily. (NOT He ate the cake greedy.)
  2. You will pay dearly (not dear) for this.

‘Greedy’ and ‘dear’ are adjectives. They can’t be used to modify the verbs ‘ate’ and ‘pay’. ‘But’ follows ‘else’ not ‘than’.

It is nothing else but prejudice.

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