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Adverbs in IELTS

Adverbs

  • Adverbs are powerful. They add meaning and accuracy to what you say (and as a result of this, they make what you say more interesting.)
  • Using adverbs at the beginning of a sentence can express a lot of meaning in one word and it is good cohesion (language that has linkages of meaning) because it helps the listener (or reader) to follow what you are going to say next.
  • Most, but not all adverbs are composed of ‘adjective + ly’.
  • These notes do not cover adverbs of position and direction (e.g., beside, opposite, around etc.)
  • Some of these words are not used exactly as you might think! So, check them in a good dictionary that has examples.
  • Words listed under ‘A’ can be used at the beginning of a sentence or at other places in a sentence. Words listed under ‘B’ are not usually used at the beginning of a sentence.

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A: Adverbs Used at the beginning of a sentence, followed by a comma.

  • The adverbs listed under A1, A2, A3, A4 and A5 are words that can be used at the beginning of a sentence, followed by a comma.
  • The words in the ‘A’ lists have a strong cohesive (=linking) affect on your language. All these words show a connection with what is spoken after the comma but those that are highlighted in purple also show a connection with what the speaker (or writer) said in the previous sentence.
  • Some of the words in the ‘A’ lists are examples of closely linking the beginning of an answer to what the other person (the examiner) asked you or said. This is another type of cohesion.
  • The groupings into A1 to A5 are not rigid groupings – some of these words could also be classified under one or more of the other four ‘A’ groupings.
  • All of these adverbs can also be used at other places in a sentence – they are not only used at the beginning of a sentence. ( See Section B, below, for adverbs that do not normally occur as the first word of a sentence.)
  • These lists do not include adverbs of position and direction (e.g., beside, opposite, around etc.)
  • A few of these words do not mean exactly as you might think! So, if you are not sure, check in a good dictionary that includes examples.

 

A1: Expressing Feeling

 

Amazingly,
Sadly,  
Astonishingly,
Seriously,
Curiously,
Strangely,
Disappointingly,                   
Surprisingly,
Fortunately,
Thankfully,
Frankly, 

(Be careful – overused and sometimes incorrectly used.)

Tragically,
Happily,
Unbelievably,
Hopefully,
Unfortunately,
Luckily,
Unluckily,
Regrettably,
 

 

A2: Expressing Personal Opinion or Judgment

Admittedly,
Miraculously,
Allegedly,
Mysteriously,
Apparently,
Naturally,
Appropriately,
Obviously,
Clearly,
Paradoxically,
Conveniently,
Personally,
Foolishly,
Plainly,
Ideally,
Presumably,
Importantly,
Remarkably,
Incredibly,
Superficially,
Inevitably,
Undeniably,
Inexplicably,
Undoubtedly,
Interestingly,
Unjustly,
Ironically,
Unnaturally,

A3: Expressing a Logical Idea

Accordingly,
Hypothetically,  
Actually,
Immediately,  
Additionally,
Incidentally,  
Alternatively,
Lastly,
Basically,
Logically,
Certainly,
Officially,
Characteristically,
Possibly,
Coincidentally,
Potentially,
Conceivably,
Predictably,
Consequently,
Previously,
Consistently,
Probably,
Conversely,
Realistically,
Correctly,
Roughly (speaking),
Definitely,
Secondly,
Equally,
Significantly,
Essentially,
Similarly,
Eventually,
Specifically,
Evidently,
Subsequently,
Finally,
Supposedly,
Firstly,
Technically (speaking),
Fundamentally,
Theoretically,
Generally,
Typically,

 

A4: Used at the beginning of sentences for dramatic effect

(This list shows just a few examples)

Arrogantly,
Proudly,
Carelessly,
Reluctantly,
Casually,
Sensibly,
Childishly,
Unexpectedly,
Courageously,
Unwillingly,
Cunningly,
Wisely,
Desperately,
 

 

A5: Indicating the area where a situation exists

 

Globally,
Locally,
Internationally,
Nationally,

 

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B: Adverbs used at other places in a sentence, not followed by a comma.

B1: Adverbs of manner

This is the largest group of adverbs. Here are some examples – there are many more.

abruptly
professionally
carefully
rapidly
carelessly
simply
closely
softly
dramatically
steadily
distinctly
steeply
easily
strangely
explicitly
superbly
formally
thickly
frankly
thoroughly
patiently
urgently
plainly
vividly
politely
voluntarily

 

B2: Adverbs of Degree

 

 
absolutely purely
approximately quite
completely radically
considerably really
drastically reasonably
entirely roughly
extensively scarcely
extremely seemingly
fairly simply
fully simply
greatly sincerely
gradually slightly
hardly somewhat
largely strongly
nearly thoroughly
noticeably totally
outright tremendously
partly truly
poorly utterly
positively very
powerfully virtually
pretty well
profoundly  

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B3: Adverbs that Focus on the Most Relevant Thing, or Restrict

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alone
particularly
chiefly
predominantly
especially
primarily
exclusively
principally
just
purely
mainly
simply
mostly
solely
notably
specially
only
specifically

B4: Adverbs of Frequency

always
occasionally
constantly
often
continually
periodically
continuously
rarely
ever
regularly
frequently
repeatedly
from time to time
seldom
hardly ever
sometimes
infrequently
sporadically
never
usually
normally
 

Notes for adverbs of frequency

  1. Some people confuse the meaning of ‘always’ with ‘often’ or ‘usually’. ‘Always’ means ‘every time’ . For example: “What do you do on Saturdays? I always go shopping.” This means that you go shopping every Saturday (or 99% of Saturdays). This might be true but ‘usually’ or ‘often’ seem to be better choices. Some people overuse the word ‘always’.
  2. ‘Always’ can also be used as an adverb of duration (how long), meaning, when talking about the past or for the future. For example: “I’ve always worked in the IT industry.” and, “I’ll always love you.”
  3. ‘Ever’ is used in a question but notin an affirmative statement (except for the type shown below at 4.). You can think of ‘ever’ as meaning, ‘at least once’. For example: “Have you ever been to Tibet?” is correct. But, “I have ever been to Yunnan.” is incorrect. Just say, “I have been to Yunnan.” (I’ve been to Yunnan.)
  4. ‘Ever’ can be used in one type of affirmative sentence, when we include the idea of and the present perfect tense For example, “That’s the best book I’ve ever read.”;”He’s the tallest man I’ve ever seen.”

 

B5: Adverbs of Certainty

You should try to use these sometimes when you talk about the future.

certainly
definitely
surely
probably
possibly

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