Using Adverbs and Adjectives Correctly

Adverb Forms of Adjectives

Adjectives modify or describe nouns.

  • The horse is quick.
  • He is quiet.

Adverbs modify or describe verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.  Most adjectives have an adverb form.

  • The horse runs quickly.
  • He moves quietly.

You can usually create an adverb by adding "ly" to an adjective.

  • Vigorous-vigorously, strong-strongly, slow-slowly

If the adjective ends in "ll," just add "y."

  • Full-fully, dull-dully, droll-drolly

If the adjective ends in "y," the rules are different depending on the number of syllables in the word.  For adjectives with more than one syllable, remove the "y" and add "ily."

  • Busy-busily, easy-easily, happy-happily

If the adjective has only one syllable, just add "ly.”

  • Shy-shyly, spry-spryly, wry-wryly

There are two exceptions to the rule.  The adjective "gay" becomes "gaily."  The other exception is the adverb "daily," which doesn't really have an adjective form.

Adjectives ending in "ic" form an adverb by adding "ally."

  • Fantastic-fantastically, realistic-realistically, enthusiastic-enthusiastically

There are also many irregular adjectives and adverbs.

  • Good-well    He is a good player.  He plays well.
  • Fast-fast    She is fast.  She runs fast.
  • Late-late    I am late.  I arrived late.
  • Hard-hard    The floor is hard.  He ran hard.

Comparative and Superlative Forms

Most adjectives and adverbs have comparative forms (bigger, better, more careful) and superlatives forms (biggest, best, most careful).

Use the comparative form when you are comparing two things.

  • Susan is taller than Kate.
  • We visited New York and Chicago.  New York is bigger.
  • He is the older of the two siblings.

Use the superlative form to compare three or more things.

  • Brazil is the largest country in South America.
  • Susan was the tallest girl in her class.
  • The gold medal goes to the fastest runner.

Absolute Values

Some adjectives and adverbs are absolute.  Do not use comparatives or superlatives with absolutes.  "Perfect" is an absolute.  Something cannot be "more perfect" than something else.  "Unique" is also absolute.  Something is unique, or it isn't.  Nothing can be "more unique" than something else.