the lady spoke very softly.[find the adverb and  does it describe a  verb,an adjective or another adverb]

Dear student 

An adverb is a word that describes an action and modifies an adjective. 

In this sentence - the lady spoke very softly, spoke is the verb and softly is the adverb. It describes the action of the lady, i.e. it describes how the lady spoke. 


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adverb is softly
yes it describes both 

may be it helped you
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Defining an Adverb

An adverb is a word that describes - or modifies, as grammarians put it - a verb, an adjective or another adverb.

  • A verb is an action word (jump, run, swim, ski, fish, talk)
  • An adjective is a descriptive word that describes a noun (pretty, happy, silly, sunny)
  • A noun is a person, place or thing (girl, dog, mom)

It is easy to see how adverbs describe, or modify, verbs, since they simply explain most about the action. For example:

  • He quickly runs
  • She slowly walks
  • He happily chatters

Adverbs can also describe adjectives or other adverbs. They provide more information about that other descriptive word.  For example:

  • He very quickly runs. In this sentence, quickly is an adverb describing the word runs. Very is another adverb, this time describing the word quickly.
  • The very pretty girl sat down. In this sentence, pretty is an adjective describing the noun girl. Very is an adverb describing the adjective pretty.
Identifying an Adverb

You can tell whether or not a word is an adverb by considering its function in the sentence. If it is describing one of those three parts of speech- a verb, adjective or other adverb- it is an adverb.

You can also tell whether something is an adverb by looking at the ending of the word. A lot of adverbs - not all, but a lot - end in “ly.” For example, happily, quickly, speedily, steadily, foolishly, and angrily are all adverbs. So, if you said:

  • He happily runs.

You can tell that happily is an adverb because it is describing the word runs and because it ends in ly.

Many frequency words are adverbs as well. For example, very, much, more and many can all be adverbs.

  • The very pretty girl was in the car.
  • The much smarter boy won the race.
An adverb is a word that describes a verb. Just like adjectives, adverbs are used to add detail to a sentence. More specifically, adverbs tell us how, when, or where something happened.

Adverbs of manner tell us how something happens. They are usually placed either after the main verb or after the object.

  • He swims well.
  • He ran quickly.
  • She spoke softly.
  • James coughed loudly to attract her attention.
  • He plays the flute beautifully. (after the direct object)
  • He ate the chocolate cake greedily. (after the direct object)

An adverb of manner cannot be put between a verb and its direct object. The adverb must be placed either before the verb or at the end of the clause.

  • He ate greedily the chocolate cake. [incorrect]
  • He ate the chocolate cake greedily. [correct]
  • He greedily ate the chocolate cake. [correct]
  • He gave us generously the money. [incorrect]
  • He gave us the money generously. [correct]
  • He generously gave us the money. [correct]

If there is a preposition before the verb's object, you can place the adverb of manner either before the preposition or after the object.

  • The child ran happily towards his mother.
  • The child ran towards his mother happily.

Adverbs of manner should always come immediately after verbs which have no object (intransitive verbs).

  • The town grew quickly after 1997.
  • He waited patiently for his mother to arrive.

These common adverbs of manner are almost always placed directly after the verb: well, badly, hard, & fast

  • He swam well despite being tired.
  • The rain fell hard during the storm.

The position of the adverb is important when there is more than one verb in a sentence. If the adverb is placed before or after the main verb, it modifies only that verb. If the adverb is placed after a clause, then it modifies the whole action described by the clause. Notice the difference in meaning between the following sentences.

Example Meaning She quickly agreed to re-type the letter. the agreement is quick She agreed quickly to re-type the letter. the agreement is quick She agreed to re-type the letter quickly. the re-typing is quick He quietly asked me to leave the house. the request is quiet He asked me quietly to leave the house. the request is quiet He asked me to leave the house quietly. the leaving is quiet Literary usage

Sometimes an adverb of manner is placed before a verb + object to add emphasis.

  • He gently woke the sleeping woman.
  • She angrily slammed the door.

Some writers put an adverb of manner at the beginning of the sentence to catch our attention and make us curious.

  • Slowly she picked up the knife.
  • Roughly he grabbed her arm.
  • An adverb is a word or set of words that modifies verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. Adverbs answer how, when, where, why, or to what extenthow often or how much (e.g., daily, completely).

He speaks slowly (tells how)
He speaks very slowly (the adverb very tells how slowly)
She arrived today (tells when)
She will arrive in an hour (this adverb phrase tells when)
Let's go outside (tells where)
We looked in the basement (this adverb phrase tells where)
Bernie left to avoid trouble (this adverb phrase tells why)
Jorge works out strenuously (tells to what extent)
Jorge works out whenever possible (this adverb phrase tells to what extent)

Rule 1. Many adverbs end in -ly, but many do not. Generally, if a word can have -ly added to its adjective form, place it there to form an adverb.

She thinks quick/quickly.
How does she think? Quickly.

She is a quick/quickly thinker.
Quick is an adjective describing thinker, so no -ly is attached.

She thinks fast/fastly.
Fast answers the question how, so it is an adverb. But fast never has -ly attached to it.

We performed bad/badly.
Badly describes how we performed, so -ly is added.

Rule 2. Adverbs that answer the question how sometimes cause grammatical problems. It can be a challenge to determine if -ly should be attached. Avoid the trap of -ly with linking verbs such as taste, smell, look, feel, which pertain to the senses. Adverbs are often misplaced in such sentences, which require adjectives instead.

Roses smell sweet/sweetly.
Do the roses actively smell with noses? No; in this case, smell is a linking verb—which requires an adjective to modify roses—so no -ly.

The woman looked angry/angrily to us.
Did the woman look with her eyes, or are we describing her appearance? We are describing her appearance (she appeared angry), so no -ly.

The woman looked angry/angrily at the paint splotches.
Here the woman actively looked (used her eyes), so the -ly is added.

She feels bad/badly about the news.
She is not feeling with fingers, so no -ly.

Rule 3. There are also three degrees of adverbs. In formal usage, do not drop the -ly from an adverb when using the comparative form.

Incorrect: She spoke quicker than he did.

Adverbs are words that modify and describe a verb, an adjective, or another adverb in a sentence. They tell when, where, why, or in what condition something is happening or happened.

  • Adverbs modifying a verb: "She jumped quickly." The adverb quickly describes how she jumped.
  • Adverbs modifying an adjective: "He helped a very slow woman cross the street." The adverb very describes how slow (slow is the adjective) the woman was.
  • Adverbs modifying another adverb: "The bank teller spoke quite softly to the angry man." The adverb quite modifies the adverb softly answering how softly the bank teller spoke.

Many adverbs end in –ly, which is how people often learn to identify them, including slowly, happily, and quickly. Keep in mind that some –ly words are adjectives and some adverbs do not end with –ly.

To determine whether any word is working as an adjective or an adverb, you should ask yourself if the word is describing a noun; if so, the word is an adjective. If not, ask yourself if it is describing a verb, adjective, or adverb. If so, it is an adverb.

For example, consider the word short.

The short man was the loudest.

Is the word describing a noun or a verb? It is describing a noun: man. This makes the word short an adjective.

The man fell short of his goal.

Is the word describing a noun or a verb, adjective, or adverb? It is describing a verb: fell. This makes the word short in this sentence an adverb.

Correct: She spoke more quickly than he did.

Incorrect: Talk quieter.

Correct: Talk more quietly.

Now, in the sentence,'The lady spoke very softly'.'Softly' is an adverb and it describes a verb.



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Example 1: Read each of the following sentences of this reading and consider if the underlined word/s are adjectives or adverbs and what word/s they modify.

  1. Many teachers require students to work in small groups.

Adjective: small modifies the noun groups.

  1. Called "collaborative learning," this allows students to learn very quickly.

Adverb: very modifies the adverb quickly.

  1. Dr. Johnstone is one of my least favorite professors.

Adverb: least modifies the adjective favorite.

  1. He knew we would learn if we worked closely together.

Adverb: closely modifies the verb worked.

  1. I had to work quickly and determinedly.

Adverbs: quickly and determinedly modify the verb work.

  1. Our project was one of the best, and we earned the highest grade in the class.

Adjective: highest modifies the noun grade.

  1. Thankfully, we had worked diligently to complete it.

Adverb: diligently modifies the noun worked.

Example 2: Now, notice how adjectives and adverbs are added to the following sentences to create more detailed sentences.

  1. Working in groups can be difficult for students.

Successfully working in small groups can be extremely difficult for quiet, introverted students.

Adverbs: Successfully modifies the verb working; extremely modifies the adjective difficult.

Adjectives: small modifies the noun groups; quiet and introverted modify the noun students.

  1. There are strategies that make it easier.

There are numerous strategies that make it significantly easier.

Adverb: significantly modifies the adjective easier.

Adjective: numerous modifies the noun strategies.

  1. Students who want to succeed communicate with others and complete their work.

Students who want to succeed collaboratively communicate well with all others and always complete their work.

Adverbs: collaboratively modifies the verb succeed; well modifies the verb communicate; always modifies the verb complete.

Adjective: all modifies the noun others.

Writers use adjectives and adverbs to enhance their writing and make it more descriptive. Whether writing a technical report, instructions, an email, a blog, an academic essay, or a reflective writing, writers who use appropriate adjectives and adverbs present their readers with a clear image of the content that will help them understand their topic and purpose for writing.

Exercise 1: Read each of the following sentences of this reading and identify if the underlined word is an adjective or an adverb. Then, identify what word the underlined word modifies.

  1. If you are a new student, you should know the right questions to ask and how to ask them. – 


    Adjective: right modifies the noun questions.

  1. First, raise your hand high in the air so the teacher can see you. – 


    Adverb: high modifies the verb raise.

  1. Second, speak very loudly so the teacher and other students can hear you. – 


    Adverb: very modifies the adverb loudly.

  1. Be sure you ask relevant questions. You want to show the teacher you are paying attention. – 


    Adjective: relevant modifies the noun questions.

  1. An example of a good question is to ask, "How will this information be important to our work in the next unit?" – 


    Adjective: good modifies the noun question.

  1. You should avoid asking the incredibly busy teacher to repeat him- or herself, especially if you were not listening intently to the lecture. – 


    Adverb: incredibly modifies the adjective busy.

Exercise 2: Now, add at least one adjective and adverb to each of the following sentences to create more detailed sentences.

  1. Students should learn how to listen. + 

    Sample Answer

  1. First, students should find a seat in the classroom where they can hear. + 

    Sample Answer

  1. Next, students need to minimize distractions. + 

    Sample Answer

  1. Lastly, students should take notes and focus on the lesson. + 

    Sample Answer

How does a writer's use of adjectives affect the audience?

Sample Answer

Adjectives help explain the information more clearly. Because they describe a noun, they can create an image in the audience's mind of what that noun looks, sounds, or feels like.


How are adverbs important when describing verbs? Give an example.


Sample Answer

Like adjectives, adverbs describe verbs and how something was done or was taking place in the piece of writing. These can make a stronger impression on the reader than just writing the verb. For example, if I wrote "I ran to the store," it doesn’t provide a very exciting or interesting image. However, if I wrote, "I ran to the store faster than I’ve ever run before in my life," the reader has a better image because I used an adverb "faster" to describe what was happening.



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