Adverbs of manner

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

Examples
  • 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.

Examples
  • 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.

Examples
  • 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).

Examples
  • 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

Examples
  • 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.

Examples
  • 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.

Examples
  • Slowly she picked up the knife.
  • Roughly he grabbed her arm.

 

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