Adverbs are words that describe or modify verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, sentences, and sentence items, such as phrases and clauses, except nouns and nominals.
- Chinwe danced gracefully.
- Your food is almost/nearly ready.
- You acted too quickly.
- Lastly, we visited the amusement park.
- Hellen stopped right in front of me.
- The teacher frowned immediately he entered the class.
CLASSIFICATION OF ADVERBS
We have six major classes of adverbs:
- Simple adverbs (or Adjuncts).
- Conjunctive adverbs (or Conjuncts).
- Disjunctive adverbs (or Disjuncts).
- Relative adverbs (or “Relajuncts”).
- Interrogative adverbs.
- Negative adverbs.
1) Simple Adverbs/Adjuncts
A simple adverb (or an adjunct) simply modifies, adds to, or alters the meaning of a single word in some way. It tells the time, place, manner, degree/measure, or frequency of an action and answers the question(s) when? where? how? how much ? or how often? respectively.
Hence, we have five subcategories of simple adverbs:
a) Adverbs of time (answering the question when?): today, now, soon, vet, then, still, etc. I saw Father yesterday.
b) Adverbs of place (where?): telling us where an action occurred: here, there, downstairs, everywhere, up, down, etc. I looked for you everywhere.
c) Adverbs of manner (how?): gracefully, happily, fast, well, hard, quietly, boldly, etc. Steve spoke boldly.
d) Adverbs of degree/measure (how much?) : very, fairly, too, quite, rather, etc. You passed very well.
e) Adverbs of frequency (how often?): once, twice, daily, often, always, never, annually, occasionally. She wept twice in her life time.
2) Conjunctive Adverbs (Conjuncts)
A conjunctive adverb performs the dual role of acting as a conjunction and as an adverb at once. By introducing new sentences, linking paragraphs or joining two independent clauses as a conjunction, and by modifying the sentence or the independent clause in which it appears as an adverb, the conjunct serves its dual purpose. Examples of conjuncts are: accordingly, additionally, also, anyway, besides, consequently, furthermore, hence, however, indeed, likewise, moreover, namely, thus, nevertheless, no, still, then, therefore, yes, yet.
Usually, when a conjunct appears in the middle of a sentence to join two independent clauses, it is technically preceded by a semicolon and followed by a comma as exemplified in the following sentences:
- He jumped bail; consequently, he was remanded in custody.
- John cannot inflict pain on anybody; indeed, he is a gentleman.
The conjunctive adverb can also appear in the middle or at the end of its clause.
- John cannot inflict pain on anybody; he is, indeed, a gentleman.
- John cannot inflict pain on anybody; he is a gentleman, indeed.
Notice the use of commas before and after indeed here, in sentences above.
3) Disjunctive Adverbs (Disjuncts)
A disjunct describes the speaker’s attitude towards his utterance. It usually occupies an absolute front position, separated by a comma as if it is unconnected to the sentence it modifies.
- Certainly, he didn’t see you.
- Fortunately, I found my missing child.
- Probably, he will be here today.
4) Relative Adverbs (Relajuncts)
Relative adverbs are when and where. They are used to join two clauses. Wherever they appear, they have antecedents to which they refer. The antecedent of when specifies time while that of where specifies place.
- I know the time when your left.
- I remember the place/town where you were born.
But where the antecedent of a relative adverb is not written down, not expressed, or is said to be understood, the relajunct ceases to be called a relative adverb and becomes a conjunctive adverb.
- I know when you left.
- I remember where you were born.
NOTE: The relative adverb when introduces adverbial clauses of time while where introduces adverbial clauses of place. But where these relajuncts have no antecedents of time and place, they become conjunctive adverbs and introduce noun clauses as shown in the above examples.
5) Interrogative Adverbs
Interrogative adverbs are: when? where? why? and how? They are used in asking direct questions. They indicate time, place, reason, and manner respectively.
- When was she born?
- Where are you going?
- Why has he not gone?
- How did you do it?
6) Negative Adverbs
These are: not and never. They are used in making negative statements, as exemplified below:
- You are not a little boy.
- She has never yielded to any man.