Adjectives and adverbs are very similar, except an adverb can modify everything that is not a noun or a pronoun, while adjectives only modify or explain nouns and pronouns. An adverb can modify or explain a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. They can modify clauses, phrases, and some modify whole sentences.

An adverb usually answers a question such as how? or when? or where? They can describe how much or in what way something happened. A list of adverbs quickly reveals that an adverb usually ends in “ly,” as in “quickly,” “audibly,” or “calmly.” Adverbs examples also include words like “behind,” “beside,” “before” and “between.”

An adverb can be classified by type. The manner adverb describes how something is done. An adverb of degree, explains how much. An adverb of time explains when something is done. A manner, time or degree adverb can be found after the verb or at the end of a sentence. The frequency adverb explains how often, and can be found before the main verb. An adverb of comment is always found at the very beginning of a sentence. This kind of adverb expresses an opinion or comment about the situation described in the sentence.

The use of an adverb in a certain way, to modify a verb, creates special adverbs known as intensifiers. Intensifiers increase, decrease or otherwise define the level of importance of the verb. Intensifiers can be used to manipulate human emotion. Imagine the sentence, “You are slightly infected with swine flu.” Swine flu is scary but ‘slightly’ makes it sound a lot better. “He is extremely contagious,” has a much stronger negative impact.

Knowing adverbs from adjectives is simple. Adjectives describe nouns, and pronouns, while an adverb describes almost everything else. An adverb usually ends in “ly.” In fact most of the time an adverb is just an adjective with an ly ending. For example: slow, in the phrase “a slow train” is an adjective describing train. Slowly is an adverb. In the sentence, “The train moved slowly.” slowly modifies the verb “moves,” and that causes it to be an adverb.