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ESL Grammar Resources

Adverbs and Prepositions





Adverbs are used to describe actions. They may come before or after a verb, but not between a verb and its object.

    Mrs. Jenner sang softly. (Most common word order.)

    Mrs. Jenner softly sang. (Also possible.)

    Mrs. Jenner softly sang a lullaby.

    Mrs. Jenner sang a lullaby softly.

    Mrs. Jenner sang softly a lullaby. (Not correct.)

Adverbs may come between a main verb and its auxiliaries.

    Mrs. Jenner is softly singing a lullaby.

    Mrs. Jenner softly is singing a lullaby. (Not correct.)

    Mrs. Jenner has been softly singing that lullaby for a long time.

Some time and frequency adverbs are “movable.” That is, they can be placed at various points in a sentence.

    Yesterday I visited the dentist.

    I visited the dentist yesterday.

    Jack Prompt is here already.

    Jack Prompt is already here.


Even though some adverbs can be used in certain sentence positions, others can not.

    I yesterday visited the dentist. (Not okay.)

    I already visited the dentist. (Okay.)

    Already I visited the dentist. (Not okay.)

Adverbs such as quite, very, really, extremely, and absolutely are used to modify adjectives and other adverbs.

They come directly before the words they describe.

Greg is quite happy with his new boss.

Sue eats very slowly.

You’re absolutely right!

Many adverbs can be formed by adding –ly to adjectives:

Carl is a quick runner.
Carl runs quickly.

Some adverbs are identical to adjectives in form. Others are completely different.

Carl is a fast runner. (Adjective)

Carl runs fast. (Adverb)

Jill is a good student. (Adjective)

Jill studies well. (Adverb)

Be careful with words like hardly and lately, which have no relation to the adjectives/adverbs hard and late.

Jacob kicked the ball hard.
He kicked the ball with tremendous force.
Jacob hardly kicked the ball
He barely touched the ball

Trudy came to class late.
She was tardy.
Trudy hasn't come to class lately.
She hasn't been to class recently. - Eating Lunch - Adverbs & Prepositions


Adverbs are words or groups of words which tell time, place, frequency or manner.

I ate my lunch yesterday.   She went there.

I ate at that restaurant last week.   She went downtown.


Prepositions are usually followed by objects in prepositional phrases. They can also be used to indicate time, place, frequency, duration, reason, manner, or to show contrast.

I ate my lunch at noon.   She went to the store.
  I ate in the cafeteria.   She walked into the house.



*Do not use adverbs as objects of prepositions.


I went to somewhere.   I went somewhere.

I was busy at last night.   I was busy last night.

John works in downtown.   John works downtown.

She came to home on yesterday.   She came home yesterday



Be careful with words such as home, downtown, today, next/last week, etc. which are sometimes used as adverbs and sometimes used as nouns.

As adverbs   As nouns

I will go back tomorrow.   Tomorrow is another day.

She went home last night.   They built a home in Oregon.

Next week I will travel to Iowa.   Next week is my vacation.


See also :

Grammar : Adverbs, Prepositions of Location

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