Adjectives and adverbs are describing words; the former describes a noun or pronoun; the latter, a verb, adjective, or other adverb. Here, you learn how to use these words with skill and confidence so you'll never again face the dreaded bad/well dilemma.
Both adjectives and adverbs are modifiers—words that describe other words. For example:
Ah ha! you say. Adverbs end in -ly; adjectives don't, so that's how I can tell these suckers apart. Not so fast, kemosabe. Some adverbs end in -ly, but not all. Further, some adjectives also end in -ly, such as lovely and friendly. As a result, the -ly test doesn't cut the mustard. Instead, the key to telling the difference between adjectives and adverbs is understanding how they work:
As you learned in Parts of Speech, the only dependable way to tell whether you should use an adjective or an adverb is to see how the word functions in the sentence. If a noun or pronoun is being described, use an adjective. If a verb, adjective, or other adverb is being described, use an adverb. Here's an example to refresh your memory:
Use the following table to keep adjectives and adverbs straight. That way, we'll all be reading from the same sheet music as we play together in the rest of this section.
|Adjectives||Describe nouns||The busy bee never rests.|
|(The noun is bee.)|
|Adjectives||Describe pronouns||She felt disappointed.|
|(The pronoun is she.)|
|Adverbs||Describe verbs||The child cried bitterly.|
|(The verb is cried.)|
|Adverbs||Describe adverbs||The child cried very bitterly.|
|(The adverb is bitterly.)|
|Adverbs||Describe adjectives||The child was truly annoyed.|
|(The adjective is annoyed.)|
Reality check: Are you still with me? Find out by taking this little quiz. Identify the underlined word or words in each of the following sentences. Hint: The answer will be either “adjective” or “adverb.” Those are better odds than you get in Vegas.
|1. Adjective||6. Adjective|
|2. Adverb, adjective||7. Adverb|
|3. Adverb||8. Adverb|
|4. Adjective||9. Adjective|
|5. Adverb||10. Adjective|
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Grammar and Style © 2003 by Laurie E. Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.