Center for Writers - Resources



An adjective is a word used to describe or limit nouns, pronouns, or groups of words that function as nouns.

                    Her eyes were blue. [The adjective blue describes the noun eyes.]
                    Her stare was compelling. [The adjective compelling describes
                            the noun stare.]
                    For many daycare workers, having to babysit can be exhausting.
                            [The adjective exhausting modifies the noun phrase
                            having to babysit.]

An adverb, on the other hand, describes or limits verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, and entire sentences.  Many adverbs have the suffix -ly--loudly, normally, or sadly, e.g.--while others, such as  much, always, yesterday, well, very, so, and well, do not.

                    We moved quickly through the forest.  [The adverb quickly describes
                            the verb moved.]
                    This information is very sensitive.  [Very modifies the adjective sensitive.]
                    The house is too richly decorated for my taste.  [Too modifies the
                            adverb richly.]
                    Unfortunately, the owner disagrees.  [Unfortunately modifies the entire

Never use an adjctive in the place of an adverb.

                   INCORRECT      The squirrel climbed the tree slow.
                  CORRECT         The squirrel slowly climbed the tree.  [The adverb
                                                slowly describes the verb climbed.]

                    INCORRECT      Johnny did bad on his math test.
                   CORRECT         Johnny did badly on his math test.  [The adverb badly
                                               modifies the verb did.]

                    INCORRECT      She writes good.
                   CORRECT         She writes well.  [The adverb well describes the verb