The Grammar Guardian Presents: Adverbs

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Adverbs

Note: The examples used in this article are a continuation of the Story of Millie Black.  To read Millie’s entire story, go back and start with Nouns.  All of the previous chapters are also listed at the bottom of this article for your convenience.   If you have already read the previous chapters or are just here to learn about Adverbs, and not Millie, read on.

Note 2: All images are courtesy of Quanta Ignis Photography

What is an adverb

An adverb is a word or phrase used to modify a verb, adjective or another adverb. Take a look at the following passage:

Millie silently motioned the captives to the back of the cave. They huddled together in the near darkness like lambs brought to slaughter. Quickly she crossed over to Jake.

Look at what the adverbs in this passage tell us about the verbs what is happening in Millie’s story. Notice that some of the adverbs end in –ly. This is a common way to tell if a word is an adverb or not. In fact I learned this rule in Mrs. Ramsey’s class years ago. However, it is important to note that just as many adverbs Do Not end in –ly. In fact, the adverb can be quite a diverse part of speech.

Adverbial Clause

An adverbial clause is a group of words, which plays the role of an adverb. An adverb clause should contain a noun, a verb and a conjunction.

“We can begin as soon as you are ready.” Jake murmured.

“I am ready now,” Millie replied. “Although there is still time to change your mind.

Notice the adverbial clauses in the passage above. The phrase “as soon as you are ready” tells when we can begin. The phrase “although there is still time to change your mind contrasts with the idea of being ready.

What do Adverbs Tell Us?

How

An adverb can tell us how something is done. If an adverbial clause is used to do this it will often start with one of the following conjunctions:

As Like The Way

 

Jake half-smiled the way only he could. Millie could hear his heart beating loudly, its rhythm matching hers.

When

An adverb can tell us when something happens or how often. If an adverbial clause is used to do this it will often start with one of the following conjunctions:

After As As soon as As long as
Before No sooner than Since Until
When While

 

As soon as I read that letter I knew what had to be done.   We must act now, Millie.”

Where

An adverb can tell us where something happens. If an adverbial clause is used to do this it will often start with a preposition or one of the following conjunctions:

Anywhere

Everywhere Where

Wherever

 

Jake took Millie’s hand and pulled her close. His presence invaded everywhere around her at once.

Why

An adverb can give us a reason for the main clause or idea. If an adverbial clause is used to do this it will often start with one of the following conjunctions:

As Because Given Since

Millie gave in to the pressure of Jake’s lips because she couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Given what they were about to do, a single kiss was nothing.

To what degree

An adverb can tell us to what degree something is done. This is often done through a comparison.

Millie felt her spirit respond faster than ever before. Still she urged the feeling to grow even more quickly.

Condition

An adverb can tell us what is required for the main idea to happen. If an adverbial clause is used to do this it will often start with one of the following conjunctions:

If Unless

 

Millie’s voice in Jake’s ear was husky with passion.

“You should disrobe, my dear, unless you want them ripped off of you.” She turned now glowing eyes towards the captives in the back.

If any of you make a sound, I will kill you and leave you for the beast.”

Concession

Finally an adverb can tell us something that contrasts with the main idea of your sentence. If an adverbial clause is used to do this it will often start with one of the following conjunctions:

Though Although Even though
While Whereas Even if

 

Even though the candles were nearly dying, Millie could easily see Jake’s body as he undressed. This was a moment she had only dreamed of, although she knew her sister would never forgive her.

 

Conclusion

Adverbs can be some of the most overused and yet misunderstood parts of speech we have. They can take the action of your sentence to the next level. However, overuse of adjectives when better word choice is available can make your writing seem trite. Once you truly understand their nature, though, and learn to use them with an artist’s touch, adverbs can enhance your writing as much, if not more, than adjectives.

 

adverbsThe Story of Millie Black – Chapter 6 – The Kiss

 

Millie silently motioned the captives to the back of the cave. They huddled together in the near darkness like lambs brought to slaughter. Quickly she crossed over to Jake.

“We can begin as soon as you are ready.” Jake murmured.

“I am ready now,” Millie replied. “Although there is still time to change your mind.” Jake half-smiled the way only he could. Millie could hear his heart beating loudly, its rhythm matching hers.

“As soon as I read that letter I knew what had to be done.   We must act now, Millie.” Jake took Millie’s hand and pulled her close. His presence invaded everywhere around her at once.

Millie gave in to the pressure of Jake’s lips because she couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Given what they were about to do, a single kiss was nothing. Millie felt her spirit respond faster than ever before. Still she urged the feeling to grow even more quickly. Millie’s voice in Jake’s ear was husky with passion.

“You should disrobe, my dear, unless you want them ripped off of you.” She turned now glowing eyes towards the captives in the back.

“If any of you make a sound, I will kill you and leave you for the beast.” Even though the candles were nearly dying, Millie could easily see Jake’s body as he undressed. This was a moment she had only dreamed of, although she knew her sister would never forgive her.

 

Parts of Speech/The Story of Millie Black Contents

Chapter 1 – Nouns – The Dog

Chapter 2 – Verbs – The Field

Chapter 3 – Pronouns – The Letter

Chapter 4 – Building Sentences – The Boat

Chapter 5 – Adjectives – The Cave

Chapter 6 – Adverbs – The Kiss

 

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