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Adverbs

Adverbs are words that describe other words. They answer questions like how? when? where? how often? how much? and to what extent? Adverbs usually modify the meaning of verbs, adjectives, other adverbs. Unlike adjectives, adverbs do not describe nouns.

Adverbs can modify…
verbs:He speaks quietly.
adjectives:She is a very good swimmer.
other adverbs:They speak English extremely well.


Many words are considered adverbs, but they have very different functions. Depending on the use, adverbs can be put in different positions in a sentence. To read more about the most common uses of adverbs, visit one of the pages below:

Placement of adverbs in a sentence

Different types of adverbs occupy different positions in a sentence. If you are wondering about a specific adverb, visit one of the pages above to read about certain types of adverbs and how they are used. The most common placement of an adverb is in the middle of a sentence, but they can also be found at the beginning and end of a sentence, depending on the context:

I sometimes go to the cinema.
I go to the cinema sometimes.
Sometimes I go to the cinema.

Inversion of negative adverbs

Negative adverbs (such as never, not only, nowhere, etc.) can be put at the beginning of a sentence to emphasize the meaning of the adverb. In this case, the usual word order must be changed. The adverb comes first, then the subject and auxiliary verb are inverted:

normal word order:I have never driven for such a long time before.
inversion:Never have I driven for such a long time before.

Inversions are used with time and frequency adverbs, which describe the verb. We do not use inversions on adverbs that describe nouns. Here are some examples of common inversions of negative adverbs:

No sooner had I hung up the phone than it rang again.
Hardly had I arrived home when the phone rang.
Scarcely had a second passed when the phone rang again.
Barely was the phone put down when it rang again.
Only later did I realize how wrong I had been.
Not for one second do I believe that to be true.
Only then did the answer occur to me.

In some cases, the inversion does not immediately follow the adverb. After not until, not since, only after, and only when, the inversion comes in the second part of the sentence:

Not until they call me will I come over.
Not since I was a boy have I laughed so hard.
Only after you give me the addres can I send the letter.
Only when this week is over will I have time to relax.