Grammar,  Questions from Students

What is an Adverb?

I received this question from a student this week:

“She is a very smart girl. Very is a/an _____________.
The correct answer: adverb. I said: adjective. Would you please explain this to me? I thought that all adverbs ended in -ly?”

Here is my response:

Many adverbs end in -ly; however, not all of them do. Sometimes words that end in ly are not adverbs at all.

The function of an adverb is to modify a verb, adjective, or another adverb. An adverb answers the questions how? when? where? why?

So, in this sentence, “very” answers the question “How smart?” Therefore, it is modifying the word “smart,” which is an adjective. That makes very an adverb. 🙂

For more information on adjectives, see this post from the OWL at Purdue:


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