An adverb can modify a verb, an adjective, another adverb, a phrase or a clause. An adverb indicates manner, time, place, cause or degree; it answers questions such as how?, when?, where? and how much?

While some adverbs can be identified by their characteristic ly suffix, most of them must be identified by untangling the grammatical relationships within the sentence or clause. Unlike an adjective, an adverb can be found in various places within the sentence. In the following examples, each of the italicized words is an adverb.

Example Explanation
The tailor quickly made his niece’s prom dress. The adverb quickly modifies the verb made and indicates the manner in which (or how fast) the dress was constructed.
The midwives patiently waited through the 18-hour labour. The adverb patiently modifies the verb waited and describes the manner in which the midwives waited.
The boldly spoken words would return to haunt the computer programmer. The adverb boldly modifies the adjective spoken.
His supervisor urged him to respond to clients’ queries more expeditiously. The adverb more modifies the adverb expeditiously.
Unfortunately, the bank closed at three today. The adverb unfortunately modifies the entire sentence.

Conjunctive adverbs

A conjunctive adverb joins two clauses together. Some of the most common conjunctive adverbs are also, consequently, finally, furthermore, hence, however, incidentally, indeed, instead, likewise, meanwhile, nevertheless, next, nonetheless, otherwise, still, then, therefore and thus. Note that a conjunctive adverb is not strong enough to join two independent clauses without the aid of a semicolon.

The italicized words in the following sentences are conjunctive adverbs:

  • The government has cut university budgets; consequently, class sizes have been increased.
  • Joe did not have all the ingredients the recipe called for; therefore, he decided to make something else.
  • The report recommended several changes to the ways the corporation accounted for donations; furthermore, it suggested that a new auditor be appointed immediately.
  • The crowd waited patiently for three hours; finally, the doors to the stadium were opened.
  • The police searched the building; however, the suspect had already escaped through a basement window.

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© Department of English, Faculty of Arts, University of Ottawa
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