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Adverbs for Manner

Placement (usual word order)

burlar
A burglar is opening a safe.
 

 

Adverbs for Manner – Placement

MODIFYING A VERB MODIFYING AN ADJECTIVE MODIFYING A CLAUSE

An adverb for manner is usually placed after the verb.  It tells us how the action or activity was performed.

An adverb for manner is placed before an adjective.  It modifies the quality or character of the adjective.

A manner adverb or an evaluation adverb (stance) placed before a clause expresses the attitude of the speaker on content of the clause.

        modifies verb to left
He moved silently.

move overmodifies adjective to right
He was purposefully silent

dialmove overmodifies clause to right
Quietly, he turned the dial on the safe. 

He listened closely.

He was sadly mistaken.

Silently, the police surrounded the bank

He spoke softly.

He was regretfully wrong

Illegally, he broke into the safe and took the money

He worked quickly.
 

He is extraordinarily good at safe-cracking.

Fortunately, he was acting the scene for a movie.

safe (n.) – a strong metal box where valuable things such as money and jewelry can be locked away.
dial (n.) – the round mechanism that one turns to enter numbers. (Now, a keypad is usually used.)
sadly mistaken (expression) – an idea based on an incorrect understanding
safe-cracking (n.) – to open a safe illegally and steal the things inside it

 

 

 

 

 

Adverb Placement

Modifying a Verb

 

 

 

Manner Adverb Placement — Modifying a Verb

BEFORE A VERB BETWEEN AN AUXILIARY AND MAIN VERB AFTER A VERB + OBJECT

An adverb for manner is commonly placed before the main verb. The placement can also be used for emphasis.

When an auxiliary verb is present, the adverb for manner is placed after the auxiliary and before the main verb.

An adverb is placed after the verb and its object or object phrase when no particular emphasis on it is desired.

 

 

Three Positions for Placement

BEFORE THE VERB BETWEEN THE AUXILIARY AND MAIN VERB AFTER THE VERB

For emphasis, an adverb for manner can be placed before a verb if the verb is a transitive verb.

An adverb for manner commonly occurs between an auxiliary verb and the main verb.

An adverb for manner may also be placed after the verb (and after the object if there is one.)

TRANSITIVE VERBS    

          modifies verb to right
He silently turned the dial.

move overmodifies verb
He will silently turn the dial.

move overmodifies verb before it
He turned the dial  silently

He continuously watched the front door.

He was continuously watching the front door.

He watched the front door continuously.

He cautiously laid his tools on the floor. 

He was cautiously laying his tools on the floor.

He laid his tools on the floor cautiously.

He slowly raised his head to listen to the dial turning.
 

He would slowly raise his head to listen. (repeatedly)

He raised his head slowly to listen to the dial turning.

INTRANSITIVE VERBS    

*He closely listened.  (intrans. v. – sounds awkward) 

*He doesn't closely listen.  (intran. v. – sounds awkward) 

He listened closely.

*He softly spoke.   (intrans. v. – sounds awkward) 

*He should softly speak.  (intran. v. – sounds awkward) 

He spoke softly

*He quietly lay under the counter.  (past tense)

?He was quietly lying under the counter.?
?He could quietly lie under the counter until everyone left.

He lay quietly under the counter.
He was lying quietly under the counter.

He carefully rose to check the front door.  

?He was carefully rising to check the front door.  
He didn't carefully rise to check the front door.

He rose carefully to check the front door.  .
He didn't rise carefully to check the front door.  

He quickly walked away.  (intrans. v. – sounds OK) 

He would quickly walk away.

He walked away quickly.
 

* incorrect usage / ? questionable usage
intransitive verb (intrans. v.) – a verb without an object complement
transitive verb (trans. v.) – a verb with an object complement

 

 

 

 

Manner Adverb Placement – Exceptions 

MEDIAL POSITION

Adverbs with no -ly forms – hard, fast, good, late, well – are not placed between the auxiliary and main verb. (Note that early and daily are irregular because they .)

* The wind was hard blowing over the crowd.

*The emotion was fast rising inside the hearts of the people.

*All agreed that the event had well gone.

*The organizers were late called.

*President Obama was early starting work.

FINAL POSITION

Some irregular adverbs without -ly forms can only occur after the verb phrase.

The wind was blowing hard over the crowd.

The emotion was rising fast inside the hearts of the people.

All agreed that the event had gone well.

The organizers were called late.

President Obama was starting work early. (end of sentence)
 

 

lightPop-Q "right over"

 

 

 

 

 

Adverb Placement

Modifying an Adjective

burglar

 

 

 

Manner Adverb Placement — Modifying an Adjective

BEFORE AN ADJECTIVE

An adverb for manner can also modify an adjective – the quality or character of someone/thing.

He was purposefully silent.  
  move overmodifies participle

He is extraordinarily good at safe-cracking.

He was regretfully wrong

He was remarkably quick.

BEFORE A PARTICIPIAL ADJECTIVE

An adverb for manner can modify an adjective formed from a passive verb, ending in -ed. (Part Adj)

He was sadly mistaken
move overmodifies participle

The safe was badly damaged. (participial adj.)

The burglar was clearly  experienced.

The actor was skillfully prepared.
 

 

purposefully silent – silent on purpose)
sadly mistaken (expression) – an idea based on a wrong understanding

 

 

 

 

Adverb Placement

Modifying a Clause  (Stance Adverb of Evaluation)

 

 

 

Manner Adverb Placement — Modifying Clause

 

INITIALLY PLACED ADVERB SET OFF BY A COMMA NORMAL PLACEMENT

We place a manner adverb at the beginning (separated by a comma) in speech and writing to create a pause.  The focus shifts to the adverb creating emphasis or 'setting the scene'.  The adjunct modifies the verb phrase of the clause.

We normally place a manner adverb before the verb or after the direct object. Placing an adverb before the subject is not done.  See  Adv for Evaluation  (Evaluation Adverbs and Speech-act Related Adverbs)

move overmodifies clause to right
Quietly, he turned the dial on the safe.   means the same →

 

 

 

 

*Quietly he turned the dial on the safe.  not done

He turned the dial quietly on the safeafter object of the verb

He quietly turned the dial on the safe. before the verb

 

Silently, the police surrounded the bank.   means the same →

 

*Silently the police surrounded the bank. not done

The police surrounded the bank silentlyafter object of the verb

The police silently surrounded the bank . before the verb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

 

ERROR SOLUTION

*We opened quietly the door.   adverb placement error

 

move overmodifies verb to left
We opened the door quietly
The adverb is placed after the verb and object that it modifies.

*He moves quickly the ball toward the goal. adverb placement error

move overmodifies verb to left
He moves the ball quickly toward the goal.  Place adverb after the object!
The adverb is placed after the verb and object that it modifies. 

*He strangely was very unhappy even though he was wealthy.
A n adverb cannot modify a BE verb. (stative verb).

 

Solution - lightbulb Pop-Q – "strangely" 

It is strange that he was so unhappy even though he was wealthy.
Use a modifying clause in place of the adverb.  (Substitute so for very.)

Strangely, he was very unhappy even though he was wealthy.
Use strangely to introduce and modify the entire sentence. (See clause adverb.) 

He was strangely unhappy even though he was very wealthy
Use the adverb to modify the adjective. (A slight change in meaning results.)

Air traffic continues to steadily return to normal across Europe.


Not incorrect, but it is unclear whether steadily modifies the verb continues or the infinitive to return, or the verb phrase continues to return.   

 

Related page: The Split Infinitive Debate

 

move over modifies verb phrase to right
(1)   Air traffic steadily continues to return to normal across Europe.
move over modifies verb to left
(2)   Air traffic continues steadily to return to normal across Europe.
move over modifies verb to left
(3)   Air traffic continues to return steadily to normal across Europe.

Move the adverb directly before or after the word you wish it to modify. In this sentence, moving the adverb does not really change the meaning.
 

 

 

 

 

Practice

Telling How an Action is Done

 

 

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Click the "check all" button at the bottom of the practice to reveal the answers after you finish, or
    c lick the individual "check" buttons #1-16 to compare responses as you go.

 

1.
dog begging  

2.
  

3.
baby

4.

5.
proud fisherman

6.

7.
fortune teller  

8.
 

9.
delivery 

10.
  

11.
working late

12.

13.
disc jockey

14.
dancing toucan

15.
actress

16.
sleepwalker

Related page: separable phrasal verbs