What is an adverb?

Adverbs give us more information about a verb, explaining how, when, where or why an action is taking place. We explain how children are taught to use adverbs to improve their writing in KS2, and how you can help at home.

What is an adverb?

An adverb is a word which modifies a verb, which means that it tells you how, when, where or why something is being done.

Consider the following sentence:

I called to my little sister.

If you add an adverb, it gives you more information about the characters or the action in the sentence, for example:

I called angrily to my little sister. OR I called excitedly to my little sister.

tells us more about the feelings of the person involved.

Adverb facts

Adverbs can be of time, of place, of manner and of degree.

Adverbs usually end in -ly, but there are lots of exceptions (fast, never, well, very, now, yesterday, here, there).

Teachers sometimes give children word banks to support them with using adverbs for different purposes, for example:

Adverbs can modify adjectives or other adverbs as well as verbs.

How do children learn to use adverbs?

Children are encouraged to use adverbs in their story-writing in Key Stage 2. These are some of the methods teachers might use to help them:

  • When a teacher is modelling writing on the board, they might ask children for various adverbs to add to a particular sentence. This is a kind of brainstorming that allows children to share ideas with each other and improve writing through a collaborative input.
  • Teachers might ask children to look out for good adverbs when they are reading. These might be written in a list on a display for children to use when they are writing.
  • Teachers might give children word banks of adverbs to refer to when they are writing.
  • Teachers might underline verbs in a child's writing and ask them to add an adverb to their verbs.

From Year 4, children are taught to use 'fronted adverbials'. This is when a word or phrase is put at the start of a sentence (followed by a comma), to explain how or when something is being done. For example:

Later that day, I fed the dog.
Cautiously, I opened the door.
With a heavy heart, I told my son the playground was closed.