Difference Between Adjectives and Adverbs With Examples

Here we make a comeback to the grammar topic for bloggers, writers, and webmasters. Let's look at a popular topic: difference between adjectives and adverbs. I have received two or three mails from readers asking to post difference between them.

An adjective is any term that modifies a particular noun, such as those italicized in the following sentences; the part in bold are the modified nouns.

Studious John finds it easy to complete his lessons.
Tom, who is fast and furious, finds it difficult to make friends.
I am happy to learn that you weren't hurt.

On the other hand, an adverb modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Examples are below.

Joe finished her lessons quickly to move out earlier.
The happily married couple has two pet dogs.
Eerily disturbing, the night passed much slowly.
John creates troubles very easily.

Above, the part 'eerily disturbing' is itself a compound adjective that modifies 'the night'; so is 'happily married'. The last sentence is an example of tiered adverbs, 'very' modifies 'easily' and 'easily' modifies 'creates'.

Though some words such as 'fast' can be used as both adjective and adverb, an adjective or adverb should not be interchanged. Hence, the following sentences are wrong:

It's no surprise that Joe, who walks careless, met with an accident.
John seems to talk normal again.
They faced a fiercely fight.
The bear attacked the dog grisly.

Many adverbs are formed with a 'ly' or 'ily' added at the end of an adjective. This is so universal that many people simply add 'ly' to form adverbs.

But there are certain exceptions, in which the 'ly' forms adjective rather than adverb. Some examples are friendly, early, grisly, likely, miserly, kindly (also adv), leisurely, etc. All these are adjectives and not adverbs.

Some words are used as both adjective and adverb. Examples are: early, kindly, fast, all comparative forms (harder, faster, quicker, better, etc).

If you have doubts, please post them into comments.

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3 Opinions:

  1. Hi Lenin,

    The examples of your wrong sentences sounds good to me. But I have never thought they are wrong if proper English structure is to be applied. In fact, I have heard these wrong sentences in movies. I am not a native English speaker but English is my second language. Does that mean that native English speakers also speak and write wrongly? Or does it depend whether its UK, US, Australian or Canadian English?


  2. Do you honestly believe that every native English speaker speaks perfect English. That's a misconception. Research shows US speakers make more mistakes than non-native English speakers. In the UK, a recent study shows that a very considerable percent of college graduates cannot even write a sentence without grammar errors.

    In movies, in colloquial sense, you may find several mistakes. But they are acceptable in talk. Not in writing...

  3. Nice article,
    though, I should say, as British, that not only Us speakers do mistakes. Come over midwest England, you will be surprised about how English is spoken around here....


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