In the examples in this article, the verbs are shown underlined and the adverbs are shown in bold type.

English words that describe verbs (actions) usually end with the letters -ly.

Although adjectives and adverbs are two different things, it is their job to describe.


[words that describe people, things, ideas etc.], must appear before the noun in English when the adjective and noun are together.

BUT words that describe action [adverbs] may appear before the verb or after it.

The most important point to remember in this subject is not to use an adjective, a word describing things, when you want to describe an action - a verb. For this you must use an adverb.

I give some examples below. Although it is not a good idea to teach you the wrong thing, I do so now as it might be the best way to explain.

Note that many English-speaking people often have difficulty in choosing the correct word in these cases.



1. ‘The boy did good.’ No – ‘good’ describes a noun (a thing or person). The equivalent word for an action is ‘well’: ‘The boy did well.’

2. ‘The car went fast.’ No – the car, being a thing, was fast, but it went quickly. This mistake is now so common that it is probably acceptable, except in writing.

3. ‘She answered very clever.’ No – her answer (a thing) was clever but the action is, ‘she answered very cleverly’.

4. ‘He played great all through the football match.’ No – his skills or his playing were great but the action description is, ‘He played very well.’ This is also a very common mistake that many people make and don’t worry about.

This topic is not really difficult; it’s about paying attention to what you are saying or writing – where is your action word? Where is your description of it?

Many modern writers of English try to avoid using a lot of words describing things or actions. The great English writer George Orwell claimed to have written a book containing no words describing things (adjectives).

I have not yet found such a book by him, but you get the point – elaborate descriptions of actions or things are out of fashion.