Manner Bravely, fast, happily, hard, quickly, well
Place By, down, here, near, there, up
Time Now, soon, still, then, today, yet
Frequency Always, never, occasionally, often, twice
Sentence Certainly, definitely, luckily, surely
Degree Fairly, hardly, rather, quite, too, very
Interrogative When? Where? Why?
Relative When, where, why


The formation of adverbs with ly.

  1. Many adverbs of manner and some adverbs of of degree are formed by adding ly to the corresponding adjectives:

Final, finally                immediate, immediately          slow, slowly

Spelling notes:

1)      A final y change to i: happy, happily.

2)      A final e is retained before ly: extreme, extremely.

Exceptions: true, due, whole become truly, duly, wholly.

3)      Adjectives ending in a consonant + le drop the e and add y:

Gentle, gently                    simple, simply

Note that the adverb of good is well.

  1. Adjective ending in ly.

Daily, weekly, monthly etc, kindly and sometimes leisurely can be adjectives or adverbs, but most other adjectives ending in ly, e.g. friendly, likely, lonely etc., cannot be used as adverbs and have no adverb form. To supply this deficiency we use a similar adverb or adverb phrase:

Likely (adjective)                     probably (adverb)

            Friendly (adjective)                 in a friendly way (adverb phrase)

  1. Some adverbs have a narrower meaning than their corresponding adjectives or differ from them.

Coldly, cooly, hotly, warmly are used mainly of feeling:

We received them coldly. (in an unfriendly way)

            They denied the accusation hotly. (indignantly)

            She welcomed us warmly. (in a friendly way)

But warmly dressed = wearing warm clothes.

Cooly = calmly/courageously or calmly/impudently:

            He behaved very cooly in this dangerous situation.

Presently = soon: he’ll be here presently.



Back Hard* Little Right*
Deep* High* Long Short*
Direct* Ill Low Still
Early Just* Much/more/most* Straight
Enough Kindly Near* Well
Far Late* Pretty* Wrong*
Fast left    

*see B below

Used as adverbs: Used as adjectives:
Come back soon The back door
You can dial Rome direct. The most direct route
The train went fast. A fast train.
They worked hard (energetically). The work is hard.
An ill-made road. You look ill/well.
Turn right here. The right answer.
She went straight home. A straight line.
He led us wrong. This is the wrong way.
  1. Starred words above also have ly forms. Note the meanings:

1)      Deeply is used chiefly of feelings:

He was deeply offended.


2)      Directly can be used of time or connection:

He’ll be here directly. (very soon)

            The new regulations will affect us directly/indirectly.

3)      Hardly is chiefly used with any, ever, at all or the verb can:

            He has hardly any money. (very little money)

            I hardly ever go out. (I very seldom go out)

            It hardly rained at all last summer.

Her case is so heavy that she can hardly lift it.


But it can also be used with other verbs:

I hardly know him. (I know him only very slightly).

Be careful not to confuse the adverbs hard and hardly:

            He looked hard at it. (He stared at it).

            He hardly looked at it. (He gave it only a brief glance).

4)      Highly is used only in an abstract sense:

            He was a highly paid official.              They spoke very highly of him.


5)      Justly corresponds to the adjective just (fair, right, lawful), but just can also be an adverb of degree.

6)      Lately = recently: have you seen him lately?

7)      Mostly = chiefly

8)      Nearly = almost: I’m nearly ready.


9)      Prettily corresponds to the adjective pretty (attractive):

            Her little girl are always prettily dressed.

But pretty can also be an adverb of degree meaning very:

            The exam was pretty difficult.


10)  Rightly can be used with a past participle to mean justly or correctly:

            He was rightly/justly punished.

            I was rightly/correctly informed.

But in each case the second adverb would be more usual.

11)  Shortly = soon, briefly or curtly.

12)  Wrongly can be used with a past participle:

            You were wrongly (incorrectly) informed.

But He acted wrongly could mean that his action was either incorrect or morally wrong.

  1.  Long and near (adverbs) have a restricted use.
    1. Long

Longer, longest can be used without restriction:

      It took longer than I expected.

But long is used mainly in the negative or interrogative:

How long will it take to get there? ~ it won’t take long.

In the affirmative too/so + long or long + enough is possible. Alternatively a long time can be used:

It would take too long.

      It would take a long time.

In conversation (for) a long time is often replaced by (for) ages:

      I waited for ages.

It took us ages to get there.


  1. Near

Nearer, nearest can be used without restriction:

      Don’t come any nearer.

But near in the positive form is usually qualified by very/quite/so/too or enoug:

      They live quite near.                Don’t come too near.

      You’re near enough.

The preposition near with noun, pronoun or adverb is more generally useful:

Don’t go near the edge.

      The ship sank near here.



  1. With adverbs of two or more syllables we form the comparative and superlative by putting more and most before the positive form:
Positive Comparative Superlative


More quickly

More fortunately

Most quickly

Most fortunately

Single-syllable adverbs, however, and early, add er, est:

Hard Harder Hardest
Early Earlier Earliest (note the y becomes i)
  1. Irregular comparisons:
Well Better Best
Badly Worse Worst
Little Less Least
Much More Most
Far Farther Farthest (of distance only)
  Further Furthest (used more widely)


Far, farther/farthest and further/furthest

  1. Further, furthest

These, like farther/farthest, can be used as adverbs of place/distance:

It isn’t safe to go any further/farther in this fog.

But they can also be used in an abstract sense:

Mr A said that these toy pistols should not be on sale.

            Mr B went further and said that no toy pistols should be sold.

            Mr C went furthest of all and said that no guns of any kind should be sold.


  1. Far: restrictions on use

Far in the comparative and superlative can be used quite freely:

            He travelled further than we expected.

Far in the positive form is used chiefly in the negative and interrogative:

            How far can you see?~ I can’t see far.

In the affirmative a long way is more usual than far, and a long way away is more usual than far away:

            They sailed a long way.           He lives a long way away.

But very far away is possible, and so is so/quite/too + far and far + enough:

            They walked so far that . . .     they walked too far.    

            We’ve gone far enough.

Far can be used with an abstract meaning:

            The new law doesn’t go far enough.

            You’ve gone too far! (You’ve been too insulting/overbearing/insolent etc.)

Far, adverb of degree, is used with comparatives or with too/so + positive forms:

            She swims far better than I do.            He drinks far too much.


  1. More and most can be used fairly freely:

You should ride more.             I use this room most.

            But much, in the positive form, has a restricted use.

  1. Much meaning a lot can modify negative verbs:

He doesn’t ride much nowadays.

            In the interrogative much is chiefly used with how. In questions without how, much is possible but a lot is more usual:

How much has he ridden?      Has he ridden a lot/much?

In the affirmative as/so/too + much is possible. Otherwise a lot/a good deal/a great deal is preferable:

He shouts so much that . . .     I talk too much.

            But He rides a lot/a great deal.


  1. Very much meaning greatly can be used more widely in the affirmative. We can use it with blame, praise, thank and with a number of verbs concerned with feelings: admire, amuse, approve, dislike, distress, enjoy, impress, like, object, shock, surprise etc.:

He was (very) much admired.

She was (very) much impressed by their good manners.


  1. Much meaning a lot can modify comparative or superlative adjectives and adverbs:

Much better                 much the best              much more quickly

Much too can be used with positive forms:

He spoke much too fast.


  1. Most placed before an adjective or adverb can mean very. It is mainly used here with adjectives/adverbs of two or more syllables:

He was most apologetic.         She behaved most generously.


When the same verb is required in both clauses we normally use an auxiliary for the second verb.

  1. With the positive form we use as . . . as with an affirmative verb, and as/so . . . as with a negative verb:

He worked as slowly as he dared.

He doesn’t snore as/so loudly as you do.

It didn’t take as/so long as I expected.


  1. With the comparative form we use than:

He eats more quickly than I do/than me.

He played better than he had ever played.

They arrived earlier than I expected.

The + comparative . . . the + comparative is also possible:

The earlier you start the sooner you’ll be back.

  1. With the superlative it is possible to use of + noun:

He went (the) furthest of the explorers.

But this construction is not very common and such a sentence would normally be expressed by a comparative, as shown above.

A superlative (without the) + of all is quite common, but all here often refers to other actions by the same subject:

He likes swimming best of all. (better than he likes anything else) of all can then be ommited.



  1. Adverbs of manner come after the verb:

She danced beautifully.

            Or after the object when there is one:

He gave her the money reluctantly.     They speak English well.

            Don’t put an adverb between verb and object.

  1. When we have verb + preposition + object, the adverb can be either before the preposition or after the object:

He looked at me suspiciously or He looked suspiciously at me.

            But if the object contains a number of words we put the adverb before the preposition:

He looked suspiciously at averyone who got off the plane.


  1. Similarly with verb + object sentences the length of the object affects the position of the adverb. If the object is short, we have verb + object + adverb, as shown in B above. But if the object is long we usually put the adverb before the verb:

She carefully picked up all the bits of broken glass.

He angrily denied that he had stolen the documents.

They secretly decided to leave the town.


  1. Note that if an adverb is placed after a clause or a phrase, it is normally considered to modify the verb in that clause/phrase. If, therefore, we move secretly to the end of the last example above, we change the meaning:

They secretly denied . . . (The decision was secret).

They decided to leave the town secretly. (The departure was to be secret).

  1. Adverbs concerned with character and intelligence, foolishly, generously, kindly, stupidly, etc., when placed before a verb, indicate that the action was foolish/kind/generous etc.:

I foolishly forgot my passport. He generously paid for us all.

He kindly waited for me.         Would you kindly wait?

Note that we could also express such ideas by:

It was foolish of me to forget.

            It was kind of him to wait.

            Would you be kind enough to wait?

The adverb can come after the verb or after verb + object, but the meaning then change:

He spoke kindly = His voice and words were kind.

Is not the same as It was kind of him to speak to us.

            He paid us generously = He paid more than the usual rate

Is not the same as It was generous of him to pay us.

Note the difference between:

He answered the questions foolishly (His answers were foolish) and

He foolishly answered the questions. (Answering was foolish./It was foolish of him to answer at all).

  1. Badly and well can be used as adverbs of manner or degree. As adverbs of manner they come after an active verb, after the object or before the past participle in a passive verb:

He behaved badly.      He read well.

He paid her badly.      She speaks French well.

She was badly paid.    The trip was well organized.

            Badly as an adverb of degree usually comes after the object or before the verb or past participle:

The door needs a coat of paint badly/The door badly needs a coat of paint.

                        He was badly injured in the last match.

Well (degree) and well (manner) have the same position rules:

                        I’d like the steak well done.

                        He knows the town well.

                        Shake the bottle well.

                        The children were well wrapped up.

The meaning of well may depend on its position. Note the difference between;

You know well that I can’t drive. (There can be no doubt in your mind about this) and

You know that I can’t drive well. (I’m not a good driver).

Well can be placed after may/might and could to emphasize the probability of an action:

                        He may well refuse = It is quite likely that he will refuse.


  1. Somehow, anyhow

Somehow (= in some way or other) can be placed in the front position or after a verb without object or after the object:

Somehow they managed.        They managed somehow.

            They raised the money somehow.

Anyhow as an adverb of manner is not common. But it is often used to mean ‘in any’ case/anyway’.


Away, everywhere, here, nowhere, somewhere, there, etc.,

  1. If there is no object, these adverbs are usually placed after the verb.

She went away.           He lives abroad.          Bill is upstairs.

But they come after verb + object of verb + preposition + object:

She sent him away.      I looked for it everywhere.

            Adverb phrases, formed of preposition + noun/pronoun/adverb, follow the above position rules:

The parrot sat on a perch.       He stood in the doorway.

                        He lives near me.


  1. Somewhere, anywhere, follow the same basic rules as some and any:

I’ve seen that man somewhere.

Can you see my key anywhere?~ No, I can’t see it anywhere.

Are you going anywhere? (ordinary question) but

Are you going somewhere? (I assume that you are).

Nowhere, however, is not normally used in this position except in the expression to get nowhere (= to echieve nothing/to make no progress):

Threatening people will get you nowhere. (you’ll gain no advantage by threatening people).

But it can be used in short answers:

Where are you going?~ Nowhere. (I’m not going anywhere).

It can also, in formal English, be placed in the beginning of a sentence and is then followed by an inverted verb:

Nowhere will you find better roses than these.


  1. Here, there can be followed by be/come/go + noun subject:

Here’s Tom.    There’s Ann.    Here comes the train.    There goes our bus.

Here and there used as above carry more stress than here/there placed after the verb. There is also usually a difference in meaning. Tom is here means he is in this room/building/town etc. But here’s Tom implies that he has just appeared or that we have just found him. Tom comes here means that it is his habit to come to this place, but Here comes Tom implies that he is just arriving/has just arrived.

If the subject is a personal pronoun, it precedes the verb in the usual way:

            There he is.      Here I am.       Here it comes.

But someone and something follow the verb:

There’s someone who can help you.

Note that the same sentence, spoken without stress on there, would mean that a potential helper exist.

  1. Someone phoning a friend may introduce himself/herself by name + here:

ANN (on phone): is that you, Tom? Ann here or This is Ann.

She must not say Ann is here or Here is Ann.


  1. The adverb away (= off), down, in, off, out, over, round, up etc. can be followed by a verb of motion + a noun subject:

Away went the runners.

Down fell a dozen apples.

Out sprang the cuckoo.

Round and round flew the plane.

But if the subject is a pronoun it is placed before the verb:

Away they went.          Round and round it flew.

            There is more drama in this order than in subject + verb + adverb but no difference in meaning.

  1. In written English adverb phrases introduced by prepositions (down, from, in on, over, out/of, round, up etc). can be folowed by verbs indicating position (crouch, hang, lie, sit, stand etc.), by verbs of motion, by be born, die, live and sometimes other verbs:

From the rafters hung strings of onions.

In the doorway stood  a man with a gun.

On a perch beside him sat a blue parrot.

Over the wall come a shower of stones.

The first three of these examples could also be expressed by a participle and the verb be:

Hanging from the rafters were strings of onions.

                        Standing in the doorway was a man with agun.

                        Sitting on a perch beside him was a blue parrot.

But a participle could not be used with the last example unless the shower of stones lasted for some time.


  1. Afterwards, eventually, lately, now, recently, soon, then, today, tomorrow, etc. and adverb phrases of time: at once, since then, till, etc.

These are usually placed at the very beginning or at the very end of the clause. i.e. in front position or end position. End position is usual with imperatives and phrases with till:

            Eventually he came/He came eventually.

            Then we went home/We went home then.

            Write today.                 I’ll wait till tomorrow.

With compound tenses, afterwards, eventually, lately, now, recently, soon can come after the auxiliary:

We’ll soon be there.

  1. Before, early, immediately and late come at the end of the clause:

He came late.              I’ll go immediately.

But before and immediately, used as conjunction, are placed at the beginning of the clause:

Immediately the rain stops we’ll set out.

  1. Since and ever since are used with perfect tenses. Since can come after the auxiliary or in end position after a negative or interrogative verb; ever since (adverb) in end position. Phrases and clauses with since and ever since are usually in end position, though front position is possible:

He’s been in bed since his accident/since he broke his leg.

  1. Yet and still (adverb of time).

Yet is normally placed after verb or after verb + object:

He hasn’t finished (his breakfast) yet.

But if the object consist of a large number of words, yet can be placed before or after the verb:

He hasn’t yet applied/applied yet for the job we told him about.

Still is placed after the verb be but before other verbs:

She is still in bed.

Yet means ‘up to the time of speaking’. It is chiefly used with the negative or interrogative.

Still emphasizes that the action continues. It is chiefly used with the affirmative or interrogative, but can be used with the negative to emphasize the continuance of a negative action:

            He still doesn’t understand. (The negative action of ‘not understanding’ continues).

            He doesn’t understand yet. (The positive action of ‘understanding’ hasn’t yet started).

When stressed, still and yet express surprise, irritation or impatience. Both words can also be conjunctions.

  1. Just, as an adverb of time, is used with compound tenses:

I’m just coming.

            (For just as an adverb of degree).


  1. a.      Always, continually, frequently, occasionally, often, once, twice, periodically, repeatedly, sometimes, usually etc.
  2. b.      Ever, hardly ever, never, rarely, scarcely ever, seldom.
  3. Adverb in both the above groups are normally placed:
    1. After the simple tenses of to be:

He is always in time for meals.

  1. Before the simple tenses of all other verbs:

They sometimes stay up all night.

  1. With compound tenses, they are placed after the first auxiliary, or, with interrogative verbs, after auxiliary + subject:

He can never understand.

You have often been told not to do that.

Have you ever ridden a camel?


(a)   Used to and have to prefer the adverb in front of them:

You hardly ever have to remind him; he always remembers.

(b)   Frequency adverbs are often placed before auxiliaries when these are used alone, in additions to remarks or in answers to questions:

Can you park your car near the shop? ~ yes, I usually can.

I know I should take exercise, but I never do.

And when, in a compound verb, the auxiliary is stressed:

I never can remember.            She hardly ever has met him.

            Similarly when do is added for emphasis:

 I always do arrive in time!

But emphasis can also be given by stressing the frequency adverb and leaving it in its usual position after the auxiliary:

You should always check your oil before starting.

  1. Adverbs in group (a) above can also be put at the beginning   or end of a sentence or clause.


Always is rerely found at the beginning of a sentence/clause except with imperatives.

Often, if put at the end, normally requires very or quite:

            Often he walked.         He walked quite often.

  1. Adverbs in group (b) above, hardly ever, never, rarely etc. (but not ever alone), can also be put at the beginning of a sentence, but inversion of the following main verb then becomes necessary:

Hardly/scarcely ever did they manage to meet unobserved.

Hardly/scarcely ever, never, rarely and seldom are not used with negative verbs.

  1. Never, ever

Never is chiefly used with an affirmative verb, never with a negative. It normally means ‘at no time’:

He never saw her again.         I’ve never eaten snails.

            They never eat meal. (habit).

            I’ve never had a better flight.

Never + affirmative can sometimes replace an ordinary negative:

I waited but he never turned up. (He didn’t turn up).

Never + interrogative can be used to express the speaker’s surprise at the non-performance of an action:

He has never been to Japan? I’m surprised, because his wife is Japanese.

Ever means ‘at any time’ and is chiefly used in the interrogative:

Has he ever marched in a demonstration? ~ No, he never has.

Ever can be used with a negative verb and, especially with compound tenses, can often replace never + affirmative:

I haven’t ever eaten snails.

This use of ever is less common with simple tenses. Ever + affirmative is possible in comparisons and with suppositions and expressions of doubt:

I didn’t suppose he ever writes to his mother.



Expressions of manner usually precede expressions of place:

He climbed awkwardly out of the window.

            He’d study happily anywhere.

But away, back, down, forward, home, in, off, on, out, round and up usually precede adverbs of manner:

He walked away sadly.           She looked back anxiously.    

            They went home quietly.          They rode on confidently.

Here and there do the same except with the adverbs hard, well, badly: he stood there silently but They work harder here.

Time expressions can follow expressions of manner and place:

They worked hard in the garden today.

            He lived there happily for a year.

But they can also be in front position:

Every day he queued patiently at the bus stop.


These modify the whole sentence/clause and normally express the speaker’s/narrator’s opinion.

  1. Adverbs expressing degrees of certainly.

(a)    Actually (= in fact/really), apparently, certainly, clearly, evidently, obviously, presumably, probably, undoubtedly.

(b)   Definitely.

(c)    Perhaps, possibly, surely.

Adverbs in group (a) above can be placed after be:

He is obviously intelligent.

Before simple tenses of other verbs:

They certainly work hard.       He actually lives next door.

After the first auxiliary in a compound verb:

They have presumably sold their house.

At the beginning or at the end of a sentence or clause:

Apperently he knew the town well.

            He knew the town well apperently.

Definitely can be used in the above positions but is less usual at the beginning of a sentence.

Perhaps and possibly are chiefly used in front position, though the end position is possible.

Surely is normally placed at the beginning or end, though it can also be next to the verb. It is used chiefly in questions:

            Surely you could pay £1?        You could pay £1, surely?

Note that though the adjectives sure and certain mean more or less the same, the adverbs differ in meaning.

Certainly = definitely:

            He was certainly there; there is no doubt about it.

But surely indicates that the speaker is not quite sure that the statement which follows is true. He thinks it is, but wants reassurance.

Surely he was there? (I feel almost sure that he was).

  1. Other sentence adverbs.

Admittedly, (un)fortunately, frankly, honestly, (un)luckily, naturally, officially etc. are usually in the front position though the end position is possible. They are normally separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma. Starred adverbs can also be adverbs of manner.

Honestly, Tom didn’t get the money. (Sentence adverb. Honestly here means ‘truthfully’. The speaker is assuring us that Tom didn’t get the money).

Tom didn’t get the money honestly (adverb of manner) = Tom got the money dishonestly.


Absolutely, almost, barely, completely, anough, entirely, extremely, fairly, far, hardly, just, much, nearly, only, quite, rather, really, scarcely, so, too, very etc.

  1. An adverbs of degree modifies an adjective or another adverb. It is placed before the adjective or adverb:

You are absolutely right.         I’m almost ready.

            But enough follows its adjective or adverb:

The box isn’t big enough.

He didn’t work quickly enoug.

  1. Far requires comparative, or too + positive:

It is far better to say nothing.               He drives far too fast. 

Much could replace far here. It can also be used with a superlative:

This solution is much the best.

  1. The following adverbs of degree can also modify verbs:

Almost, barely, enough, hardly, just, (a) little, much, nearly, quite, rather, really and scarcely. All except much are then placed before the main verb, like adverbs of frequency:

He almost/nearly fell.              I am just going.

            Tom didn’t like it much but I really enjoyed it.

  1. Only can also modify verbs. In theory it is placed next to the word to which it applies, preceding verbs, adjectives and adverbs and preceding or following nouns or pronouns:

(a)   He had only six apples. (not more than six).

(b)   He only lent the car. (he didn’t give it).

(c)    He lent the car to me only. (not to anyone else).

(d)   I believe only half of what he said.

But in spoken English people usually put it before the verb, obtaining the required meaning by stressing the word to which the only applies:

He only had six apples is the same as (a) above.

            He only lent the car to me is the same as (c) above.

            I only believe half etc. is the same as (d) above.

  1. Just, like only, should precede the word it quqlifies:

I’ll buy just one.           I had just enough money.

            It can also be placed immediately before the verb:

I’ll just buy one.           I just had enough money.

            But sometimes this change of order would change the meaning:

Just sign here means this is all you have to do.

                        Sign just here means Sign in this particular spot.

Fairly, rather, quite, hardly etc.

Fairly and rather.

  1. Both can mean ‘moderately’, but fairly is chiefly used with ‘favourableadjectives and adverbs (bravely, good, nice, well etc), while rather is chiefly used in this sence before ‘unfavourable’ adjectives and adverbs (bad, stupidly, ugly etc.):

Tom is fairly clever, but Peter is rather stupid.

I walk fairly fast but Ann walks rather slowly.

Both can be used similarly with participles:

He was fairly relaxed; she was rather tense.

                        A fairly interasting film.           A rather boring book.

The indefinite article, if required, precedes fairly but can come before or after rather:

                        A fairly light box.         A rather heavy box/rather a heavy box.

With adjectives/adverbs such as fast, slow, thin, thick, hot, cold, etc., which are not in themselves either ‘favourable’ or ‘unfavourable’, the speaker can express approval by using fairly and disapproval by using rather: this soup is fairly hot implies that the speaker likes hot soup, while This soup is rather hot implies that it is a little too hot for him.

  1. Rather can be used before alike, like, similar, different etc. and before comparatives. It then means ‘a little’ or ‘slightly’:

Siamese cats are rather like dogs in some ways.

The weather was rather worse than I had expected.

Rather a is possible with certain nouns: disappointment, disadvantage, nuisance, pity, shame and sometimes joke:

It’s rather nuisance (= a little inconvenient) that we cann’t park here.

            It’s rather a shame (= a little unfair) that he has to work on Sundays.

Fairly cannot be used in these ways.

  1. Rather can be used before certain ‘favourable’ adjectives/adverbs such as amusing, clever, good, pretty, well but its meaning then changes; it becomes nearly equivalent to very, and the idea of disapproval vanishes: she is rather clever  is nearly the same as she is very clever. Rather used in this way is obviously much more complimentary than fairly. For example the expression It is a fairly good play would, if anything, discourage others from going to see it. But It is rather a good play is definitely a recommendation. Occasionally rather used in this way conveys the idea of surprise:

I suppose the house was filthy. ~ No, as a matter of fact it was rather clean.

  1. Rather can also be used before enjoy, like and sometimes before dislike, object and some similar verbs:

I rather like the smell of petrol.           He rather enjoys queueing.

            Rather can be used in short answers to questions with the above verbs:

Do you like him? ~ Yes I do, rather.

Rather + like/enjoy is often used to express a liking which is a surprise to others or to the speaker himself. But it can also be used to strengthen the verb: I rather like Tom implies more interest than I like Tom.



This is a confusing word because it has two meanings.

  1. It means ‘completely’ when it is used with a word or phrase which can express the idea of completeness (all right, certain, determined, empty, finished, full, ready, right, sure, wrong etc.) and when it is used with a very strong adjective/adverb such as amazing, extraordinary, horrible, perfect:

The bottle was quite empty.                 You’re quite wrong.

It’s quite extraordinary; I can’t understand it at all.

  1. When used with other adjectives/adverbs, quite has a slightly weakening effect, so that quite good is normally less complimentary than good. Quite used in this way has approximately the same meaning as fairly but its strenght can vary very much according to the way it is stressed:

Quite ‘good (weak quite, strong good) is very little less than ‘good’.

‘quite ‘good (equal stress) means ‘moderately good’.

‘quite good (strong quite, weak good) is much less than ‘good’.

The less quite is stressed the stronger the following adjective/adverb becomes. The more quite is stressed the weaker its adjective/adverb becomes.

Note the position of a/an;

Quite a long walk.                   Quite an old castle.


Hardly, scarcely and barely are almost negative in meaning. Hardly is chiefly used with any, ever, at all or the verb can:

            He has hardly any money. (very little money)

I hardly ever go out. (I very seldom go out).

It hardly rained at all last summer. (

Her case is so heavy that she can hardly lift it.

But it can also be used with other verbs:

I hardly know him. (I know him only very slightly).

Be careful not to confuse the adverbs hard and hardly:

            He looked hard at it. (He stared at it).

He hardly looked at it. (He gave it only a brief glance).

Scarcely can mean ‘almost not’ and could replace hardly as used above: scarcely any/scarcely ever etc.

But scarcely is chiefly used to mean ‘not quite’:

There were scarcely twenty people there. (probably fewer).

Barely means ‘not more than/only just’:

There were barely twenty people there. (only just twenty).

I can barely see it. (I can only just see it).


Inversion of the verb after certain adverbs

Certain adverbs and adverb phrases, mostly with a restrictive or negative sense, can for emphasis be placed first in a sentence or clause and are then followed by the inverted (i.e. interrogative) form of the verb. The most important of these are shown below. The numbers indicate paragraphs where an example will be found.

Hardly ever On no account
Hardly . . . when Only by
In no circumstances Only in this way
Neither/nor Only then/when
Never Scarcely ever
No sooner . . . than Scarcely . . . when
Not only Seldom
Not till So

I haven’t got a ticket. ~ neither/nor have I.

I had never before been asked to accept a bribe.

Never before had I been asked to accept a bribe.

They not only rob you, they smash everything too.

Not only do they rob you, they smash everything too.

He didn’t realize that he had lost it till he hot home.

Not till he got home did he realize that he had lost it.

This switch must not be touched on any account.

On no account must this switch be touched.

He was able to make himself heard only by shouting.

Only by shouting was he able to make himself heard.

He became so suspicious that . . . .

So suspicious did he become that . . . .

Note also that a second negative verb in a sentence can sometimes be expressed by nor with inversion:

He had no money and didn’t know anyone he could borrow from.

            He had no money, nor did he know anyone he could borrow from.

            (neither would be less usual here).


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