Adjectives and Adverbs

Adjectives and Adverbs

Main ideas

  • Manipulate grammar
  • Enhance your writing
  • Adjectives
  • Adverbs


Being a more effective writer has a lot to do with word choice and the ability to manipulate grammar correctly. Using modifiers such as adjectives and adverbs can add color to your writing and make for a more interesting read. Learning to use adjectives and adverbs in the correct way can make all the difference in your writing and enable you to score extra points when needed. But what’s the difference between these two categories of words?

Adjectives are descriptive words that enhance nouns or pronouns. In other words, they are a part of speech that add more detail to the depiction of people, places, things, or qualities and can also be used to identify or quantify them. By using a sprinkling of a variety of adjectives, the writer gives the reader a more vivid picture about the characteristics of what that noun is like; for example, “a scrawny, striped, brown cat” conjures up a more specific image than simply using the noun “cat”. Examples of adjectives include those words referring to color, size, shape, or the texture of a noun. Bitter, gentle, dusty, empty, proud, curved, cheerful, melodic, and talented are examples of the wide range of adjectives from which a writer can choose.

On the other hand, adverbs are used to describe or add additional information to adjectives, verbs, or other adverbs. Adverbs state how something is done or further clarify details. Nine times out of ten adverbs are regular and end in “ly”. Occasionally, you will come across irregular adverbs like “well”, “soon”, and “fast”. “Not” is also considered an adverb, as it gives the inverse meaning of the verb. To tell the difference between an adjective and an adverb apply the following questions. Ask how, when, where, and why. If the word answers one of these questions it is an adverb. For example in the sentence “He ran quickly to catch the bus” quickly is the adverb stating “how” he ran. The sentence is still complete without the adverb, but inserting it adds more detail about how he ran.

Some words can be used as both an adjective and an adverb, depending on the context. In the sentence “She stopped short to avoid hitting the cat”, short is an adverb because it is describing how she stopped but in the line “She is short” it is describing the pronoun “she” so it is used as an adjective in that case.


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