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Adverb Placement in English

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Adverbs provide information about how, when or where something is done. It's easy to understand what adverbs do by looking at the word adverb: Adverbs add something to the verb! Let's take a look at a few examples:

Jack often visits his grandmother in Chicago. -> The adverb 'often' tells us how often Jack visits his grandmother in Chicago.

Alice plays golf very well. -> The adverb 'well' tells us how Alice plays golf. It tells us the quality of how she plays.

However, they must remember to clean up before they leave. -> The adverb 'however' connects the sentence to the independent clause or sentence that comes before it.

You may have noticed that the adverb placement is different in each of the three sentences. Adverb placement in English can be confusing at times. Generally, adverb placement is taught when focusing on specific types of adverbs. Adverb placement for adverbs of frequency comes directly before the main verb. Therefore, they come in the middle of the sentence. This is referred to as 'mid-position' adverb placement. Here is a general guide to adverb placement in English.

Adverb Placement - Initial Position

Adverb placement at the beginning of a clause or a sentence is referred to as 'initial position'.

Connecting Adverbs

Initial position adverb placement is used when using a connecting adverb to join a statement to the preceding clause or sentence. It's important to remember that these connecting adverbs take adverb placement at the beginning of a phrase in order to connect it to the phrase that has come before. Commas are often used after the use of a connecting adverb. There are a number of these connecting adverbs, here are some of the most common:

However,
Consequently,
Then,
Next,
Still,

Examples:

Life is hard. However, life can be fun.
The market is very difficult these days. Consequently, we need to focus on what works best for our customers.
My friend Mark doesn't enjoy school. Still, he's working hard at getting good grades

Time Adverbs

Time adverbs are also used at the beginning of phrases to indicate when something should happen. It's important to note that time adverbs are used in in a number of adverb placements. Time adverbs are the most flexible of all adverbs in their adverb placement.

Examples:

Tomorrow Peter is going to visit his mother in Chicago.
Sundays I like playing golf with my friends.
Sometimes Jennifer enjoys a relaxing day at the beach.

Adverb Placement - Middle Position

Focusing Adverbs

Adverb placement of focusing adverbs generally takes place in the middle of a sentence, or in the 'mid-position'. Focusing adverbs put the emphasis on one part of the clause in order to modify, qualify or add additional information. Adverbs of frequency (sometimes, usually, never, etc.), adverbs of certainty (probably, certainly, etc.) and comment adverbs (adverbs expressing an opinion such as 'intelligently, expertly, etc.') can all be used as focusing adverbs.

Examples:

She often forgets to take her umbrella to work.
Sam stupidly left his computer at home instead of taking it with him to the conference.
I'll certainly buy a copy of his book.

NOTE: Remember that adverbs of frequency are always placed before the main verb, rather than the auxiliary verb. (I don't often go to San Francisco. NOT I often don't go to San Francisco.)

Adverb Placement - End Position

Adverb placement is usually at the end of a sentence or phrase. While it's true that adverb placement can happen in the initial or mid-position, it's also true that adverbs generally are placed at the end of a sentence or phrase. Here are the three most common types of adverbs placed at the end of a sentence or phrase.

Adverbs of Manner

Adverb placement of adverbs of manner usually occurs at the end of a sentence or clause. Adverbs of manner tell us 'how' something is done.

Examples:

Susan hasn't done this report accurately.
Sheila plays piano thoughtfully.
Tim does his math homework carefully.

Adverbs of Place

Adverb placement of adverbs of place usually occurs at the end of a sentence or clause. Adverbs of place tell us 'where' something is done.

Examples:

Barbara is cooking pasta downstairs.
I'm working in the garden outside.
They will investigate the crime downtown.

Adverbs of Time

Adverb placement of adverbs of time usually occurs at the end of a sentence or clause. Adverbs of manner tell us 'when' something is done.

Examples:

Angie likes relaxing at home on weekends.
Our meeting takes place at three o'clock.
Frank is having a checkup tomorrow afternoon.

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