ADVERBS IN ENGLISH

WORDS DESCRIBING VERBS

(ACTION WORDS)

Introduction

 

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.

Adjectives

[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.

 

BIG MISTAKES:

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.