Advanced Grammar for IELTS: Adverbs – Diagnose Test, Grammar Explanation & Practice Exercises
A DIAGNOSTIC TEST: Adverbs
Underline the correct form or phrase in bold.
Example: I haven’t seen that much of them late/ lately.
- You’re bound to be promoted; the boss thinks very high/ highly of you.
- The elephant trek took us deep/ deeply into the rainforest.
- In our school fifty roughly/ roughly fifty students have mobile phones.
- As we descended the hill the car began to go more fast/ faster.
- I’ve had a lot of insomnia recently. I only slept yesterday/ Yesterday I only slept four hours.
- Weekly I get paid/ I get paid weekly, so I can pay the rent on Saturday.
- Here lies the tomb / The tomb here lies of Sir Jasper Willoughby.
- The train strike won’t affect her, she arrives usually / usually arrives by taxi.
- Liz isn’t our most punctual member of staff, she is often/ often is late for work.
- I’m afraid that we still don’t/ don’t still know his name.
- You’ll never get your money back because the company isn’t trading any longer/ any longer trading.
- My parents aren’t very sociable, in fact they go out hardly ever/ hardly ever go out.
- I’m sorry that the kids badly behaved/ behaved badly while you were babysitting.
Rewrite these sentences, putting the adverb in brackets in the correct position.
She has got a place in the shortlist. (definitely)
==> She has definitely got a place in the shortlist.
14 I thought his performance was good. (pretty)
15 The patient’s body is now entirely free of symptoms. (almost)
16 These days I take my health much more seriously. (probably)
17 She’s my worst enemy and I don’t like her. (really)
18 Rejected. Harriet turned to food for comfort. (emotionally)
19 I bumped into your brother at the supermarket. (incidentally)
20 I understood everything because the teacher answered the question. (clearly)
B GRAMMAR EXPLANATION: Adverbs
Adverbs are words which modify or give extra information about verbs, adjectives, other words or whole clauses. This unit examines the form and use of adverbs, including adverb pairs with very similar forms, as well as adverbs and adjectives with the same form. This unit also looks at the position of adverbs which modify verbs and at those adverbs which convey a viewpoint or attitude, or modify a whole sentence.
1A. Forms of adverbs
Some adverbs are not derived from other words, while others are formed by adding suffixes (e g. -ly) to other words, or are formed from groups of words. These are some common examples of adverbs (note spelling):
|not formed from other words||just, well, soon, too, quite, still|
|fixed phrases||kind of, of course, at last|
|formed from other words
adjective + –ly
noun / preposition +
tragic => tragically, excitable => excitably, easy => easily, real => really
home => homeward, after => afterwards, price => pricewise,
health => healthwise
some + times => sometimes
1B. Confusing forms
In some cases adverbs have the same forms as adjectives; in other cases two different adverbs are derived from the same adjective:
Adverbs which have the same form as adjectives:
close, dead, fast, fine, long, low, pretty, short, straight, wide, wrong
Common adverbs from the same base, with different meanings:
|direct (= without stopping)
We flew direct from La Guardia to Houston.
late (= not on time/not early)
The plane arrived late due to bad weather.
high (= to a great height)
He lifted it high over his head.
hard (= with a lot of effort/ severely)
He braked hard when he saw the cat.
right (= direction/correctly)
Turn right at the crossroads.
Try to do it right this time!
free (= without paying)
We got into the concert free!
deep (= to a great depth/distance)
We explored deep into the jungle.
|directly (= immediately/very soon)
Don’t go. I’ll be with you directly.
lately (= recently)
She’s been rather ill lately.
highly (= extremely)
Arsenic is highly toxic.
hardly (= scarcely, almost not)
We hardly know our neighbours.
rightly (= correctly in my opinion)
The tribunal rightly condemned the war criminals.
freely (= without limitation or control)
Sheep roam freely over the hills.
deeply (= thoroughly)
I’m deeply ashamed of my behaviour
Note: There are a few adjectives which look like adverbs, e g. friendly, lonely, cowardly. We cannot make these adjectives into adverbs in the usual way. We use alternative words or phrases, or the adjective with manner or way:
X He left cowardlyly, sneaking out the back door.
✓ He left like a coward … ✓ He left in a cowardly way …
We use some common adjectives as adverbs in informal conversational English, although some speakers consider this incorrect:
They sell things very cheap in that market.
In informal US English real and good can be used instead of really and well:
She’s a real nice girl. The team’s running good this season.
2A. Modifying, and adding information
The most common use of adverbs is to modify adjectives; the adverb usually comes before the adjective:
I thought his answers were pretty good on the whole.
Some adverbs, e.g. really, almost, quite, pretty, can modify another adverb:
The French team did really well in the first round.
Certain adverbs, e.g. quite, roughly, about, approximately, can also modify following noun phrases, prepositional phrases and numbers:
Her news came as quite a shock
In our school roughly fifty students have mobile phones.
A key use of adverbs is to add information about the time, manner or place of an action or state described in a sentence:
He hit the ball hard and this time it flew into the back of the net.
Note that we can use noun phrases (this time) and prepositional phrases (into the back of the net) as adverbs.
We can use adverbs with as, so, too, enough, etc.:
She performed so enthusiastically that the judges overlooked her inexperience.
We missed the bargains because we didn’t get there soon enough
Some adverbs are used in conversation to show the speaker’s attitude.
2B. Using adverbs in comparisons
We can use adverbs in comparatives and superlatives, usually with more and most:
In the lottery draw red balls seem to come up more frequently than yellow ones.
Of all the relatives at Gran’s funeral I think Uncle Ralph felt her loss most deeply.
Adverbs which do not end in -ly take the same comparative and superlative forms as adjectives
If you tuned the engine more often the car would go faster.
Note that the comparative and superlative forms of the adverb well are better and best.
- POSITION OF ADVERBS IN SENTENCES
3A. The three positions
The position of an adverb depends on its meaning and the word or phrase it is modifying. Adverbs which modify adjectives, other adverbs and noun phrases have fixed positions, but adverbs which modify a verb or add information about how, when or where something happens can take several positions in a sentence. We call these ‘front position’ (before the subject), ‘mid position’ (next to the verb ) and ‘final position’ (after the object or complement):
These days I probably take my health much more seriously
front mid final
Note: If the object or complement of a verb is very long we can put a final position adverb before it:
These days I take much more seriously all those things I used to take for granted.
3B. Front position
We can use many adverbs in this position. We often use adverbs which link or contrast with information in the previous sentence:
I’ve been incredibly busy this week. Yesterday I worked more than twelve hours.
After negative adverbs (e.g. never), or after adverbs of time and place followed by a verb of movement or position, we put the verb before the subject ( inversion):
Never have I seen such a disturbing sight.
Here lies the body of our late lamented sovereign.
Note: We do not use adverbs of definite frequency, e.g. daily, weekly, in front position:
X Monthly I get paid. ✓ I get paid monthly
3C. Mid position
This is the usual position for adverbs of indefinite frequency, adverbs of degree, adverbs of certainty, one-word adverbs of time, even and only:
|adverbs of indefinite frequency||always, frequently, generally, hardly ever, never, normally, occasionally, often, rarely, seldom, sometimes, usually|
|adverbs of degree||absolutely, almost, completely, entirely, just, hardly, partly, quite, rather, really, slightly, totally|
|adverbs of certainty||certainly, definitely, probably|
|one-word adverbs of time||already, finally, immediately, just, now, no longer, soon, still, then|
With a simple verb we put the adverb between the subject and the verb, but with simple forms of be the adverb goes after the verb:
X She arrives always by taxi and she always is on time.
✓ She always arrives by taxi and she is always on time.
If there is a modal or auxiliary verb we put the adverb after the (first) auxiliary verb:
We’ve never been to the Creek islands. You can just see the coast.
Sea eagles have occasionally been seen around Loch Lomond.
These adverbs go after do or not:
They don’t really understand my point of view.
Note: But we put sometimes, still, certainly, definitely and probably before a negative auxiliary:
X I don’t sometimes understand his arguments. He hasn’t still convinced me.
✓ I sometimes don’t understand his arguments. He still hasn’t convinced me.
In spoken British English, if we want to emphasise an auxiliary verb or a simple form of be, we can put a mid-position adverb before it. The auxiliary/verb (underlined) is usually stressed:
You really don’t understand me at all! But she never is on time!
I don’t really like him. (unmarked position = I slightly dislike him.)
I really don’t like him. (emphatic position = I hate him.)
We can do this in US English even when we are not emphasising the verb:
Madonna never has been shy of image changes.
Note: We do not use other time adverbs (definite time or frequency) in mid position:
X We every day buy our lunch at that sandwich bar on the corner.
But we can do this in news reports:
The Federal Reserve today announced an immediate rise in interest rates.
3D. Final position
The most frequent position for adverbs in English is the end of the sentence. It is the usual position for yet, a lot, any more, any longer, too, as well:
X They aren’t any more selling it. ✓ They aren’t selling it any more
We usually put adverbs of manner (which describe how something is done) and adverbs of definite frequency in this position:
X He well plays the guitar. ✓ He plays the guitar well.
Adverbs of manner which end in -ly (except badly) can go in final or mid position:
Harry painstakingly counted out the coins and arranged them neatly into piles.
Note: We don’t use hardly ever or never in final position:
X They watch television hardly ever ✓ They hardly ever watch television.
Note: If we put often, rarely and seldom in final position, we must use very or quite:
X These days I eat desserts rarely ✓ These days I eat desserts very rarely
If there are several adverbs in final position, we usually follow a sequence of adverbs of manner, then place, and finally time:
The statue was lifted (carefully) (onto the plinth) (before the ceremony).
- SENTENCE ADVERBS
4A. Viewpoint adverbs
Adverbs can describe the particular aspect of something we are commenting on:
Economically, the current government has been a resounding success. (= The government has successfully managed the economy.)
Although economically successful, the government is starting to lose popularity.
4B. Attitude/ sentence adverbs
Adverbs such as clearly, honestly, obviously, surprisingly, understandably can express our attitude towards an action:
You’ve obviously been eating too many sweets, young man! (This is a logical deduction which is clear to anybody.)
We can also use these adverbs in conversation to introduce, extend, or make a comment on a topic or opinion. We usually put these ‘sentence adverbs’ at the front or end of the sentence, separated by a comma:
Incidentally, I noticed they were looking for new players down at the Red Lion.
I don’t think he knows what he’s talking about, frankly.
Note: There are a number of these adverbs where the meaning is not always obvious:
|admittedly||-This probably qualifies or contradicts what I have just said/heard.|
|-This is something I believe to be true or have heard, although I’m not certain it is correct.|
|fortunately||-This is something positive which contrasts with something else I have said/heard. I am pleased about this.|
|frankly||-This is my true opinion, although it may be shocking.|
|incidentally/ by the way||-I am changing the subject – this is some information which is not directly connected with the previous information.|
|understandably||-One can sympathise with this.|
Note: Some adverbs, e.g. naturally and clearly, can be used as sentence adverbs and also as adverbs of manner. Note the different meanings:
Despite being in a zoo, the animals behaved quite naturally (= in a natural way)
Naturally, wild animals behave quite differently in captivity. (= what is expected)
The teacher answered the question clearly and precisely. (= in a clear way)
Clearly, the teacher didn’t answer the question. (This is obvious.)
C PRACTICE EXERCISE
Underline the correct option in bold.
- He slapped him friendly/ in a friendly way on the back.
- Does that flight go direct / directly or is there a stopover?
- Many of the senior staff are right/ rightly concerned about their pensions.
- There’s been a lot of talk about European integration late/ lately.
- Our new cellphone fits easy/ easily into the average-sized pocket.
- The path leads straight/ straightly to the front door.
- Healthy/ Healthwise, stress is probably the most serious problem facing people today.
- Animals are now able to wander free/ freely throughout the game reserve.
- In late spring the gulls nest high/ highly on the cliff face.
- The remains of the Spanish galleon lie deep/ deeply under the ocean.
- The minister will begin by giving a statement. After/ Afterwards, you will be able to put your questions to him directly.
- Jackson came pretty close/ closely to winning that last race.
- You’ll never get better if you don’t eat – you’ve hard/ hardly touched your dinner!
- In the Denver play-offs the Miami team did real/ good well.
- Some of these kids drive their cars far too fast/ fastly.
Complete the second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first sentence. You must use between three and six words, including the word given in bold. This word must not be altered in any way. The exercise begins with an example (0).
0 Karen did really well in the test. highly
==> Karen……..was highly successful……….in the test.
1 The car started to accelerate as we turned the corner. go
As we turned the corner the car……………………………………………
2 She really didn’t expect to win so much money. quite
Winning so much money came ……………………………………………….. surprise
3 Evolution is slower during periods of climatic stability. happens
Evolution …………………………………………… during periods of climatic stability
4 We didn’t get there in time to hear the overture. soon
We wanted to hear the overture but we didn’t get ……………………………………………
5 More or less three-quarters of our students are fee-paying these days. roughly
These days ………………………………………………….. our students pay fees
6 In the USA only a few people have heard of our products. entirely
Our products are ………………………………………………………… in the USA
7 She gave such a moving performance that we were virtually in tears. so
She performed ………………………………………………….. we were virtually in tears
8 Mr Skidmore had a deeper involvement than any of the other directors. most
Of all the directors, Mr Skidmore was ………………………………………………….
9 In terms of politics, I felt most of the participants were biased. politically
In my opinion most of the participants …………………………………………………….
10 I couldn’t have made my answers to the questionnaire any more honest than I did. as
I answered the questionnaire ……………………………………………………. I could.
Tick (✓) all those adverbs which can complete the sentences and cross (X) those that cannot. In one case none of the adverbs will fit.
1 Clarice ……….. opened the door to the secret compartment.
A slowly B last week C probably
2 We don’t …….. know the identity of the masked stranger.
A still B really C certainly
3 You can ……. see the coast from this point.
A definitely B just C as well
4 Our next door neighbours go there ………..
A as well B hardly ever C a lot
5 ……….. the boss gives me a hard time.
A Every day B Daily C Sometimes
6 I get the feeling you haven’t ………… understood my point.
A entirely B really C probably
7 The public don’t ……. respond in the ways advertisers expect them to.
A sometimes B any longer C always
8 I haven’t been to the cinema …………………..
A yet B often C very often
9 Alarming signs of radiation leakage have been ……… reported around the power station.
A often B this week C always
10 ………… have I been subjected to such outrageous demands.
A Never B Rarely C Frequently
11 I’m afraid the bank does not ……………. permit such large overdrafts.
A generally B any longer C any more
- The patient ………… reacts to any kind of bright light.
A badly B immediately C usually
- He plays the saxophone …………………………….
A too B quite rarely C never
14 The data from those sensors isn’t …………. reliable.
A absolutely B sometimes C always
15 She treats her children ……………………………
A carefully B well C badly
Rewrite these sentences putting the words and phrases in brackets in the best order. Note that none of these sentences are emphatic. The exercise begins with an example (0).
0 My parents (allowed/hardly ever) us to (late/on weekdays/stay up).
==> …..My parents hardly ever allowed us to stay up late on weekdays……………..
- Taking advantage of a gap between the players. Owen kicked the ball (into the net/just before half time/skillfully)
- Foxes (often/be seen/can) scavenging (on the streets of London/at night).
- David (well/behaves/quite) when he is at home but he (at school/causes trouble/often).
- The post (arrive/sometimes/on time/doesn’t) in this part of the city.
- Jennifer (immediately/didn’t/recognise) the man waving (at the end of the show/frantically/from the balcony).
- We (unable/are/usually) to offer refunds on the spot, but we will examine (thoroughly/before the end of the week/your claim).
- These children (never/have/given/been/probably) the opportunities we all take for granted.
- Access to the Internet (no longer/is) available (on weekday mornings/free of charge/at our libraries).
- Such losses (have/would/normally/avoided/been) by the use of back-up devices.
- Many of the old masters had assistants who would prepare the oil pigments (each morning/by hand/in their studios)
Make the answers in these mini-dialogues more emphatic by rewriting them with the adverb in brackets in a suitable position. Make any other changes that are necessary. The exercise begins with an example (0).
0 ‘Lucy hasn’t turned up yet again.’ ‘I know. She is unreliable, isn’t she?’ (really)
==> ‘I know. She really is unreliable, isn’t she?’
- ‘Admit it. You took that money out of the till.’ ‘I’m sorry. I don’t know what you are talking about!’ (really)
- ‘How ridiculous! They can’t fit us in on Saturday because they’re full.’ ‘But that place is full on Saturday evenings!’ (always)
- ‘Isn’t it strange that he never mentions his wife. Don’t you wonder why?’ ‘Yes, I have wondered about that.’ (often)
- ‘Laurence won’t even let us discuss your proposal.’ ‘I’m not surprised. He doesn’t listen to my ideas.’ (never)
- ‘How bizarre. The customs officer really went through my luggage with a fine-tooth comb!’ ‘That’s not unusual; the customs officers are quite thorough.’ (usually) –
- ‘You must have some idea of his whereabouts.’ ‘I’m sorry but we don’t know where he is.’ (honestly)
- ‘I think you should swallow your pride and apologise to them.’ ‘Come off it. You can’t expect me to just cave in like that.’ (really)
- ‘Take a break? Give yourself space? What are you on about?’ ‘You don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, do you?’ (absolutely)
- ‘Downloading that software seems to be taking an awfully long time.’ ‘I’m afraid these programs do take a long time to download.’ (sometimes)
- ‘Look. It’s midday and Tabitha still isn’t here.’ ‘Well, she is in the office before noon these days.’ (rarely)
Make this dialogue more natural by using suitable adverbs from the box to replace each of the expressions in bold (each adverb can only be used once and not all the adverbs will be needed).
|admittedly apparently by the way clearly exactly fortunately frankly ideally naturally obviously reasonably really still seriously understandably|
STEVE Not a bad party last night. Lots of old faces from college were there.
CLARE (1) That sounds interesting; can you tell me more? …………………..
STEVE Yeah. Lizzie was there with her new husband. (20) This is something I’ve heard although it may not be true, ………….. he’s something very high up and important in the civil service.
CLARE Yes, I’ve heard that too. (3) This is my true opinion, although it may be shocking …………. , I never really expected her to marry anyone successful. She was always so scruffy and laid back. She was never into social status or anything like that.
STEVE (4) It is a logical deduction ………….. she’s changed her outlook on life. I mean, she was very smartly dressed and she kept telling me all about how much money their new house had cost.
CLARE (5) Do you expect me to believe that? ……………..
STEVE Yes, she was really bragging about it.
CLARE Well she never used to be interested in money at all. (6) This probably contradicts what I ‘ve just said ………….. she did like eating out and travelling.
STEVE (7) What I’m about to say isn’t really related to what we’ve been discussing………….. your old flame Simon was at the party.
CLARE Was he? I haven’t seen him for ages.
STEVE (8) As one would expect ………… he couldn’t stop asking me questions about you.
CLARE I think he still hopes that we might get back together one day.
STEVE (9) That is completely accurate ………………….
CLARE Well, not much chance of that! Oh. was that obnoxious old creep Douglas Jarrold there?
STEVE I’m afraid so. (10) I’m pleased about this …………. he was right over the other side of the room so I didn’t have to talk to him. He was trying to chat up Mary Bracknell. I can’t think why.
CLARE (11) This is obvious ……….., he still fancies her.
STEVE Maybe. She certainly wasn’t very interested in him, (12.) which one can sympathise with ……………….
CLARE Strange how some people never change, isn’t it?
Rewrite these sentences using all the adverbial expressions in brackets.
0 The press office advised us not to discuss the matter, (before the conference/last week/publicly)
==> Last week the press office advised us not to discuss the matter before the conference.
- Ruined, the owner of the business agreed to sell the premises, (reluctantly/within the month/financially/rather)
- There is nothing better than collapsing, (onto a sofa/probably/at the end of the day/lazily)
- Controlled, this effective new drug can reduce blood pressure, (amazingly/within hours/carefully/dramatically)
- We regret having to announce the suspension of all staff working in our subsidiary, (currently/under the circumstances/in San Diego/deeply)
- We seem to get the chance to talk, (about these things/seriously/these days/rarely)
- Many of my colleagues disapprove of my scheme to update the accounting procedures, (thoroughly/over the next quarter/unfortunately/in the sales department)
D ANSWER KEY FOR DIAGNOSTIC TEST
- roughly fifty
- Yesterday I only slept
- I get paid weekly,
- Here lies the tomb
- usually arrives
- is often
- still don’t
- trading any longer
- hardly ever go out.
- behaved badly
- I thought his performance was pretty good.
- The patient’s body is now almost entirely free of symptoms.
- These days I probably take my health more seriously.
- She’s my worst enemy and I really don’t like her./ She’s really my worst enemy and I don’t like her.
- Emotionally rejected, Harriet turned to food for comfort./ Rejected emotionally. Harriet turned to food for comfort.
- Incidentally, I bumped into your brother at the supermarket.
- I understood everything because the teacher answered the question clearly.
E ANSWER KEY FOR PRACTICE EXERCISE
1 in a friendly way
1 started to go faster (and faster)
2 as quite a
3 happens more slowly
4 there soon enough
5 roughly three-quarters of
6 almost entirely unheard of/unknown
7 so movingly that
8 (the) most deeply involved
9 were politically biased
10 as honestly as
1 A ✓ B X C ✓
2 A X B ✓ C X
3 A ✓ B ✓ C X
5 A ✓ B X C ✓
6 A ✓ B ✓ C X
7 A X B X C ✓
8 A ✓ B X C ✓
9 A X B X C X
10 A ✓ B ✓ C X
11 A ✓ B X C X
12 A X B ✓ C ✓
1 3 A ✓ B ✓ C X
14 A ✓ B X C ✓
1 5 A ✓B ✓ C ✓
(Note: These answers follow the guidelines for sequence in the Reference section)
- Taking advantage of a gap between the players, Owen kicked the ball skillfully into the net just before half time.
- Foxes can often be seen scavenging on the streets of London at night.
- David behaves quite well when he is at home but he often causes trouble at school.
- The post sometimes doesn’t arrive on time in this part of the city.
- Jennifer didn’t immediately recognise the man waving frantically from the balcony at the end of the show.
- We are usually unable to offer refunds on the spot, but we will examine your claim thoroughly before the end of the week.
- These children have probably never been given the opportunities we all take for granted.
- Access to the Internet is no longer available free of charge at our libraries on weekday mornings.
- Such losses would normally have been avoided by the use of back-up devices.
- Many of the old masters had assistants who would prepare the oil pigments by hand in their studios each morning.
1 ‘I’m sorry. I really don’t know what you are talking about!’
2 ‘But that place always is full on Saturday evenings!’
3 ’Yes, I often have wondered about that.’
4 ‘I’m not surprised. He never does listen to my ideas.’
5 ‘That’s not unusual, the customs officers usually are quite thorough.’
6 ‘I’m sorry but we honestly don’t know where he is.’
7 ‘Come off it. You really can’t expect me to just cave in like that.’
8 ’You absolutely don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, do you?’
9 ’I’m afraid these programs sometimes do take a long time to download.’
10 ’Well, she rarely is in the office before noon these days.’
|7 By the way
- Financially ruined, the owner of the business rather reluctantly agreed to sell the premises within the month.
- There is probably nothing better than collapsing lazily onto a sofa at the end of the day/At the end of the day there is …
- Carefully controlled, this amazingly effective new drug can dramatically reduce blood pressure within hours/can reduce blood pressure dramatically within hours/this dramatically effective new drug can amazingly reduce.
- Under the circumstances we deeply regret having to announce the suspension of all staff currently working in our subsidiary in San Diego.
- We rarely seem to get the chance to talk seriously about these things these days.
- Unfortunately, many of my colleagues thoroughly disapprove of my scheme to update the accounting procedures in the sales department over the next quarter.
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