How to Use Adverbs in Writing

In the world of words, adverbs are like secret ingredients that add flavor and depth to sentences. They might seem small, but they have big powers! This guide is here to help you understand adverbs better so you can use them to make your writing more exciting and interesting.


Adverbs are words that describe verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. They help answer questions like how, when, where, why, or to what extent something happens.

  • Adverbs Modified by Verbs: When adverbs work with verbs, they tell us more about the action. For example, “She sang beautifully,” shows how she sang. Other examples include “He spoke loudly,” and “They danced gracefully.” These adverbs make the actions more vivid.
  • Adverbs Modifying Adjectives: Adverbs can also change adjectives, making them stronger or softer. For instance, “The movie was incredibly boring,” describes the movie’s boringness in a big way. Similarly, “She looked absolutely stunning,” and “He seemed rather tired,” show how adverbs can intensify or lessen descriptions.
  • Adverbs Modifying Other Adverbs: Sometimes, adverbs even change other adverbs to give more clarity or emphasis. “She ran very quickly,” “He speaks quite softly,” and “They arrived remarkably early,” are examples of how adverbs help refine descriptions or stress certain details.


Adverbs come in different types, each with its own job:

Type Example
Adverbs of Time now, later, soon, yesterday, tomorrow
Adverbs of Place here, there, everywhere, nearby, far away
Adverbs of Manner quickly, slowly, carefully, happily
Adverbs of Frequency always, often, rarely, sometimes, never
Adverbs of Degree very, extremely, somewhat, quite, too


While adverbs can make writing more interesting, using to many can make it confusing. Here’s how to use them well:

  1. Don’t overdo it: Use adverbs sparingly, picking ones that really make a difference.
  2. Choose strong verbs: Try to find powerful verbs that say what you mean without needing extra words.
  3. Be clear: Pick adverbs that give exactly the right information, avoiding words that don’t really say much.
  4. Experiment: Don’t be afraid to try different ways of writing to see what works best.

Strike a Balance: While adverbs can enhance description and clarity, it’s essential to maintain a balance in their usage. Avoid overloading your sentences with adverbs, as this can lead to redundancy or a cluttered writing style. Instead, aim for precision and selectivity, incorporating adverbs only where they significantly enhance the reader’s understanding or engagement.

Consider Alternative Constructions: Before automatically reaching for an adverb to modify a verb or adjective, explore alternative ways to convey the desired meaning. Sometimes, restructuring the sentence or choosing a more descriptive verb or adjective can result in clearer and more impactful writing. Experiment with different phrasings to find the most effective expression of your ideas.

Choose Adverbs that Contribute Unique Meaning: Opt for adverbs that add a distinct layer of information to your writing, avoiding those that merely restate what’s already implied by the context. For example, instead of saying “He ran quickly,” consider whether “He dashed hastily” might convey a more specific image or emotion.


Start your TypeCite Boost 3 day free trial today. Then just $4.99 per month to save your citations, organize in projects, and much more.

Tomas Elliott (Ph.D.)

Tomas Elliott is an assistant Professor of English at Northeastern University London. His research specialisms include the history of theatre and film, European modernism, world literature, film adaptation, transmedia studies and citation practices. He read English and French Literature at Trinity College, Oxford, before completing a PhD in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Pennsylvania.

Explore the Writing Help section