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What Is an Adverb of Manner?

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  • Written By: Cynde Gregory
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2014
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As most folks know, verbs are words that describe motion, action, or states of being. Without verbs, nothing happens, and if nothing happens, a sentence is incomplete. Adverbs, as their name suggests, add something to the verb in terms of describing the action taking place. An adverb of manner is one that defines the way the action occurs.

Adverbs are easy to identify because they often, although not always, end in ly. Actions can be done in an almost infinite range of ways. An adverb of manner pinpoints mood or attitude, style, or physicality.

A gardener might dig a hole easily if there are no rocks in the soil and irritably if the soil is largely clay and hard to break. Some children behave obediently, while others behave naughtily. A couple of gossips might exchange their opinions noisily or quietly, depending upon whether they want others to overhear.

An adverb of manner is actually only one of five categories of adverbs. Others include adverbs of time, degree, frequency, and comment. Some linguists break these larger categories into many smaller ones, including adjectives of place, circumstance, or certainty.

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Adverbs of time offer details about the hour or general time of day, the day of the week, the season, or other temporal designations. Descriptions that focus on how little or how much something is being done fall into the category of adverbs of degree; for example, a baby might cry constantly. Adverbs of frequency look at repeated action and include adverbs such as usually, rarely, and infrequently. Adverbs that clue a listener into the speaker’s opinion, such as the adverbs fortunately, horribly, and adorably, are adverbs of comment.

The adverb of manner category contains many more than the other groups. These adverbs always appear either at the end of the sentence or, more often, directly after the verb. This is typical of most adverbs, with the exception of adverbs of comment, which can also appear at the beginning of the sentence. Nearly every adverb of manner is created by adding the suffix ly to an adjective.

There are a handful of exceptions, including the adverbs how, straight, and hard. It’s important to note that not every word ending in ly is an adjective, however. Describing someone as friendly isn’t describing action, but character, which means friendly is actually an adjective. While the root of most adverbs of manner is an adjective, the root of an adjective ending in ly is a noun.

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