Dictionary.com Word FAQs
How can I tell if a word is an adjective or an adverb in a sentence?
The only way to tell whether a word is an adjective or adverb is to determine what it modifies. Adjectives describe or modify nouns and pronouns. They specify which one, what quality, or how many. Adverbs describe or modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs (note that two of the three have verb in them, as does adverb - which can be a way for you to remember) as well as whole groups of words. Adverbs specify when, where, how, and to what extent. Adjective-noun combinations are: old city, two pears, generous gift. An example of an adjective-pronoun combination is: sly one; one of a pronoun-adjective is: it was nice. Examples of adverb-verb combinations are: nearly destroyed, quickly forgotten. Adverb-adjective combinations are: very generous, extremely happy. An adverb-adverb combination is: very quickly. Sometimes an adjective is erroneously used for an adverb and vice versa. For example: We take it very serious (the adjective) should be: We take it very seriously (the adverb). An adjective may go just before the noun it modifies (yellow bird) or follow a linking verb (the bird was yellow). Where to put adverbs often perplexes. Typically, an adverb goes just before a verb - but it may also go at the beginning of a sentence or clause; it may also be placed at the end, particularly if it gets the emphasis: The brook is rising rapidly. The placement of the adverb can dramatically affect the meaning of a sentence, making it awkward or ambiguous, so care must be taken to review one's writing. If an auxiliary is helping the verb, then it is fine for the adverb to go between them: We will soon know the election results. But if a verb has more than one auxiliary, things get complicated. The adverb normally goes after either the first or second auxiliary, depending on what it is supposed to modify. If it sounds right, it is likely to be right. An adverb made up of a number of words often follows a verb phrase. If the adverb begins the sentence, it can either modify a clause or the entire sentence. And, as a rule, the adverb should not separate a verb from its object: Keir solved quickly the puzzle. / Keir quickly solved the puzzle.