Look at these examples:
• Our holiday was too short – the time went very quickly.
• The driver of the car was seriously injured in the accident.
Quickly and seriously are adverbs. Many adverbs are made from an adjective + -ly:
adjective: quick serious careful quiet heavy bad
adverb: quickly seriously carefully quietly heavily badly
Not all words ending in -ly are adverbs. Some adjectives end in -ly too, for example:
friendly lively elderly lonely silly lovely
Adjective or adverb?
a noun. We use adjectives before nouns and
after some verbs, especially be:
• Tom is a careful driver, (not ‘a carefully
• We didn’t go out because of the heavy
• Please be quiet.
• I was disappointed that my exam results
were so bad.
We also use adjectives after the verbs
look/feel/sound etc. (see Unit 98D):
• Why do you always look so serious?
Compare: , ,
• She speaks perfect English.
adjective + noun
Compare these sentences with look:
• Tom looked sad when I saw him. (= he
seemed sad, his expression was sad)
Adverbs (quickly/carefully etc.) tell us about
a verb. An adverb tells us how somebody
does something or how something happens:
• Tom drove carefully along the narrow
road, (not ‘drove careful’)
• We didn’t go out because it was raining
heavily, (not ‘raining heavy’)
• Please speak quietly, (not ‘speak quiet1)
• I was disappointed that I did so badly in
the exam, (not ‘did so bad’)
Why do you never take me seriously?
She speaks English perfectly.
verb + object + adverb
• Tom looked at me sadly. (= he looked at
me in a sad way)
We also use adverbs before adjectives and other adverbs. For example:
reasonably cheap (adverb + adjective)
terribly sorry (adverb + adjective)
incredibly quickly (adverb + adverb)
• It’s a reasonably cheap restaurant and the food is extremely good.
• Oh, I’m terribly sorry. I didn’t mean to push you. (not ‘terrible sorry’)
• Maria learns languages incredibly quickly.
• The examination was surprisingly easy.
You can also use an adverb before a past participle (injured/organised/written etc.):
• Two people were seriously injured in the accident, (not ‘serious injured’)
• The meeting was very badly organised.