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Archive Language Point 75

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Adverbs of manner

Alice answers the phone

Adverbs of manner

Adverbs of manner tell us how something happens.

In this episode of The Flatmates, Paul says:
'...that ended very abruptly...'.
If we ask: how did it end? - The answer is 'abruptly'.

Paul also says:
'...she calmly announced that she had fallen in love with someone else.'
If we ask: how did she announce it? - The answer is 'calmly'.

Other examples:
He swims fast. How does he swim? - fast.
She sings beautifully. How does she sing? - beautifully.
I opened the door wide. How did I open the door? - wide.
She quickly finished her dinner. How did she finish? - quickly.

Adverbs of manner - position

Adverbs of manner are usually placed after the main verb.
He swims fast.
She sings beautifully.

It is possible to place the adverb before the verb. This places emphasis on the adverb.
She calmly announced that she had fallen in love with someone else.
She quickly finished her dinner.

But some adverbs are always placed after the verb.
These adverbs are: well, badly, hard, fast.

The team well played. - WRONG
The team played well. - RIGHT

He performed badly.
The students tried hard. (note: hard is an irregular adverb - don't say hardly) The dogs ran fast. (note: fast is an irregular adverb - don't say fastly)

Adverbs of manner - verbs with objects

If the verb has an object, the adverb of manner is usually placed after the object, not between the verb and object.

I opened wide the door. - WRONG
I opened the door wide. - RIGHT

He ate the chocolate cake greedily. She typed the email hurriedly.

However, it is still possible to place the adverb before the verb, to emphasise the adverb.

He greedily ate the chocolate cake. She hurriedly typed the email.

Adverbs of manner - beginning position

Some writers put an adverb of manner at the beginning of a sentence, to catch the reader's attention and make him/her curious:

Slowly, carefully, she opened the box.

This use of adverb position makes the reader want to find out more. What is in the box? Why did she open it slowly and carefully?

Adverbs of manner - more than one verb

When there is more than one verb in a clause, the position of the adverb is very important. If it is placed with the verb, it modifies the action described by the verb. If it is placed at the end of the clause, it describes the manner of the whole action described in the clause.

She slowly decided to leave the party. = slowly modifies decided.
She decided to leave the party slowly. = slowly modifies leave the party.

The teacher quietly asked the children to finish their game. = quietly modifies asked.
The teacher asked the children to finish their game quietly. = quietly modifies finish (their game).

Adverb modifiers - a bit, quite, most, fairly, very, extremely

You can give more information about most adverbs of manner by using a word such as:
a bit

These words are always placed before the adverb.

Very carefully, she carried the baby upstairs.
She carried the baby upstairs very carefully.
She very carefully carried the baby upstairs.
He finished his homework really quickly.

Common adverbs of manner

angrily badly beautifully calmingly
carefully cautiously cleverly dangerously
eagerly excitedly foolishly fast
furiously greedily happily hard
hurriedly kindly nervously politely
quickly quietly secretly silently
slowly softly stupidly unhappily
well wickedly willingly wisely


hang up (v)
to end a telephone call by deliberately breaking the connection

end of story
when English speakers use this informal phrase, they mean that there is no reason to continue discussing something - there's no more to be said

it's over
the relationship is finished

abruptly (adv)
suddenly, without warning

said something formally, publicly or officially. Paul uses the verb 'announce' to show that his wife did not discuss their separation with him

moved out
took all his belongings and left his home to go and live somewhere else

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