This is a ‘5 levels’ lesson. That means you’ll see five sections. Each section will give you a challenge. Each section is more difficult than the previous ones.
Level one is beginner, so if you’re not a beginner, you should skip to level two.
Ready? Let’s go!
Look at five sentences.
- She drove slowly through the old town.
- I’ll probably get a sandwich from the Italian bakery.
- I didn’t do the last exam well.
- It was cloudy in the morning, then it started raining lightly in the afternoon.
- That was the best meal I’ve ever had!
Each sentence contains one adjective, and one adverb. Can you find them? Pause the video, and find the adjective and the adverb in each sentence. Do it now!
Ready? Let’s check.
- She drove slowly (adv.) through the old (adj.) town.
- I’ll probably (adv.) get a sandwich from the Italian (adj.) bakery.
- I didn’t do the last (adj.) exam well (adv.).
- It was cloudy (adj.) in the morning, then it started raining lightly (adv.) in the afternoon.
- That was the best (adj.) meal I’ve ever (adv.) had!
Adjectives often come before a noun, as in ‘old town’ or ‘Italian bakery’.
Adjectives can also come after a noun, often after a verb like ‘be’, as in ‘it was cloudy’.
You could also put an adjective after a noun using other linking verbs, like ‘get’, ‘become’ or ‘look’. For example: ‘It’s getting dark.’
Adjectives only do one thing: they describe nouns. An adjective *always* links to a noun.
Adverbs can be harder to find, because they do many different jobs.
Many adverbs end in -ly, like ‘probably’ or ‘lightly’. However, many adverbs don’t, like ‘well’ or ‘ever’.
Also, adverbs do many different jobs. They can describe verbs, adjectives, or situations.
To use adjectives and adverbs well in English, you should know how to recognise them in a sentence.
After this lesson, get more adjective practice with this Oxford Online English lesson: Using Adjectives in English.
If that’s clear, then let’s move on to level two!
Here’s your challenge for level two.
- I’ve liked food. (really, always, spicy)
- You need to get there. (definitely, early)
- I think the one suits you than the one. (better, blue, other)
- He goes to the café after work. (often, local)
- I don’t understand why you answered. (so, still, rudely)
Here, your job is to put the adjectives and adverbs in the right places.
You can’t add any punctuation. That means there’s only one possible answer for each sentence, except sentence five, where there’s at least one more possibility.
Pause the video and think about it now!
Could you do it? Let’s take a look.
- I’ve always really liked spicy food.
- You definitely need to get there early.
- I think the blue one suits you better than the other one.
- He often goes to the local café after work.
- I still don’t understand why you answered so rudely.
So, what do you need to know here?
There are rules for word order for both adjectives and adverbs.
The rules for adjectives are simpler, because adjectives always link to a noun. As you saw in level one, the adjective either goes before the noun, or after the noun with a linking verb like ‘be’.
Rules for adverbs are more complicated, because different kinds of adverbs need to go in different positions.
Sometimes, an adjective and an adverb can have the same form. For example, ‘enough’ can be an adjective or an adverb.
If it’s an adjective, it goes before the noun, as in: ‘We don’t have enough time.’
If it’s an adverb, it goes after the verb or verb phrase. For example: ‘He didn’t run fast enough.’
This is a useful rule for adverb word order. If an adverb describes a verb, then it normally goes after the verb or verb phrase. You can see this in sentences two and three.
If this is confusing for you, you should learn about the different types of adverb, and where to put them in a sentence.
It’s also important that you can tell the difference between adjectives and adverbs. Remember that the same word, like ‘fast’ or ‘enough’, could be an adjective or an adverb in different sentences. You can’t tell just by looking at the word; you have to look at the whole sentence and understand the meaning.
Now, let’s go to level three!
Here are your sentences.
- I’ve (hard/hardly) ever seen him work so (hard/hardly).
- We’re flying (direct/directly) from Perth to Dubai. We don’t have to change planes or stop.
- I’m not surprised he’s ill; he’s always been a bit (sick/sickly).
- He’s been coming in to work a bit (late/lately).
- She (flat/flatly) refused to help and went (straight/straightly) back into her office.
Your job is simple: choose the correct word in each sentence. Pause the video now and find your answers.
Did you do it? Even if it’s difficult, spend some time thinking about it. Take more time if you need!
OK, let’s see the answers now.
- I’ve hardly ever seen him work so hard.
- We’re flying direct from Perth to Dubai. We don’t have to change planes or stop.
- I’m not surprised he’s ill; he’s always been a bit sickly.
- He’s been coming in to work a bit late.
- She flatly refused to help and went straight back into her office.
Did you get the right answers? Is anything confusing? Let’s see what’s going on here.
First point: not all adverbs end in -ly, and sometimes, a word can have two forms – like ‘hard’ and ‘hardly’, or ‘direct’ and ‘directly’ – and *both* of them are adverbs.
In sentence one, ‘hard’ and ‘hardly’ are both adverbs, but they have different meanings. Do you know what they mean?
‘Hardly’ means ‘almost never’. If you say ‘She hardly ever raises her voice’, you mean that she almost never raises her voice.
‘Hard’ as an adverb means ‘intensely’.
What about ‘direct’ and ‘directly’? Here, it’s slightly different. Both mean that you go somewhere without stopping, but they’re used in different contexts. In most contexts, you say ‘directly’. For example: ‘I walked directly over to him and told him to stop.’
But, if you’re talking about public transport, then you use ‘direct’, without -ly. For example, if you take a train from Berlin to Moscow without changing trains, then you can say you went *direct* from Berlin to Moscow.
In sentence three, is ‘sickly’ an adjective or an adverb?
It’s an adjective. Adjectives can also end in -ly. ‘Sick’ and ‘sickly’ are both adjectives, but they have different meanings. ‘Sick’ means ill, as in: ‘I can’t come to work today. I feel sick.’
‘Sickly’ describes someone who is unhealthy and who gets ill easily. For example: ‘She was a very sickly child. She seemed to get ill every month.’
In sentence four, ‘late’ is an adverb, meaning the opposite of ‘early’. ‘Lately’ is also an adverb, but it means ‘recently’, and it doesn’t fit here.
In sentence five, ‘flatly’ and ‘straight’ are both adverbs.
What’s the point here? The most important thing is that you can’t tell by looking at a word whether it’s an adjective or an adverb. Many words can be both. Adjectives and adverbs can have the same form. Sometimes, words which look like they should be related – like ‘hard’ and ‘hardly’ – can have completely different meanings.
Don’t focus on the words; focus on the sentences and what they mean. The same word in a different sentence could have a completely different meaning.
Ready to move on? Remember that you can always review a level if you need to.
- It was a very amazing experience.
- We stayed in a small lovely farmhouse in a village by the sea.
- He can be sometimes very moody.
- I met many Spanish on my trip, and they were all really friendly.
- They have a two-years-old daughter.
So, what’s happening here? Can you guess?
Do these sentences look right to you? They aren’t! Each sentence has one mistake. The mistakes relate to adjective or adverb use. Your job is to find the mistakes and correct them. Try to think about *why* these sentences are wrong. Could you explain the problem?
Anyway, pause the video now, and think about your ideas. Take your time.
OK? Let’s look together.
- It was a
very really amazing experience.
- We stayed in a lovely small farmhouse in a village by the sea.
- He can sometimes be very moody.
- I met many Spanish people on my trip, and they were all really friendly.
- They have a
two-years-old two-year-old daughter.
In sentence one, ‘amazing’ is a strong adjective. You can’t use ‘very’ with a strong adjective. You can use ‘really’ or ‘absolutely’. So, you could also say ‘It was an absolutely amazing experience.’
Do you know any other strong adjectives?
There are many, but you could say adjectives like ‘freezing’, ‘incredible’ or ‘delighted’.
In sentence two, if you have more than one adjective before a noun, then the adjectives need to go in a specific order. The most important rule to remember is that adjectives which give an opinion go before adjectives which describe a fact. That’s why ‘lovely’ needs to go before ‘small’.
Do you want more practice with order? Watch our lesson on adjective order in sentences.
In sentence three, there’s a useful rule which you can use. If you’re deciding where an adverb – like ‘sometimes’ – can go, and the verb has two parts – like ‘can be’ – then the adverb always goes in the middle.
In sentence four, can you explain the problem? Let’s change the sentence a little.
- I met many Egyptians on my trip, and they were all really friendly.
This sentence is fine. You don’t need to add ‘people’ to make it correct. Why not?
Some adjectives can also be used as nouns. ‘Egyptian’ can be an adjective or a noun. ‘Spanish’ is only an adjective, so it needs a noun after it.
With words for nationalities, words which end in A-N can be used as adjectives or nouns: German, Russian, Australian, Brazilian, and so on. There are a few other words which don’t fit this pattern, but can also be used as adjectives or nouns, like ‘Greek’ or ‘Kazakh’.
So, you can say: ‘There are many Greeks living in Australia.’
If you aren’t sure whether a word can be used as a noun or not, then just add a noun afterwards. You can also say: ‘There are many Greek people living in Australia.’ It’s totally correct.
In sentence five, you have a compound adjective: ‘two-year-old’, which is made by combining other words.
Compound adjectives are often made with a number, like ‘a six-hour flight’ or ‘a three-hundred-dollar ticket’.
If you make a compound adjective with a number, don’t add an -s to the other parts of the adjective. It’s a common mistake.
Now, let’s look at the hardest challenge: level five!
Level five will test everything you’ve seen so far. Here are your sentences.
- We went deeply into the forest.
- I’m doing good, thanks for asking.
- The robbery is believed to be the work of an alone criminal.
- I’m quite certain that you’re rather wrong.
- They unfortunately didn’t hardly prepare for their presentation, and it unsurprisingly was an utter disaster.
Only one of these sentences is correct. Four have problems – possibly just one mistake, or maybe more than one! Your job is to find the correct sentence, and correct the mistakes in the other four. Pause the video and do your best!
Ready? How did you do? Which sentence do you think is correct?
Sentence two is correct; the other four have problems.
Surprised? Some people might tell you that sentence two is wrong, because you should use an adverb: ‘I’m doing well’. However, in colloquial speech, it’s common to say ‘I’m doing good.’
What about the other four? Let’s look.
In sentence one, you should say: ‘We went deep into the forest.’
‘Deep’ and ‘deeply’ are both adverbs, but if you’re talking about a place, you can only use ‘deep’, meaning ‘far into’. ‘Deeply’ describes how you do something. Here, you’re talking about a place, because you’re saying where you went, or, more specifically, *how far* into the forest you went.
In sentence three, you need to say ‘a lone criminal’, not ‘alone’.
Some adjectives change form depending on whether they’re used before or after the noun they describe. ‘Lone’ and ‘alone’ have the same meaning, but you can only use ‘lone’ before a noun, and ‘alone’ after a noun.
In sentence four, ‘rather’ cannot be used in this way. You could say ‘completely wrong’, ‘utterly wrong’ or ‘totally wrong’. There are other possibilities.
‘Rather’ expresses a medium level of something. For example, if you say ‘It’s rather cold’, you mean that it’s ‘medium’ cold.
However, ‘wrong’ is ungradable. It’s a binary idea: either something is wrong, or it isn’t. You can’t have different levels of wrong.
Finally, in sentence five, the first problem is with word order and adverb position. The second problem is that there’s a double negative. ‘Hardly’ means ‘almost not’, so it includes a logical negative. You can’t use ‘hardly’ and ‘didn’t’ together. The most likely correct sentence is: ‘Unfortunately, they hardly prepared for their presentation, and unsurprisingly it was an utter disaster.’
There are other possible positions for the adverbs. For example, ‘unsurprisingly’ could go at the end of the sentence.
How did you do? Using adjectives and adverbs correctly is complex, and there are many things you need to think about to use this language to a high level.
If this lesson was hard for you, don’t worry! In each level, we mention topics which you need to know to understand the sentences and the exercises. Choose one or two topics, and work on them. Don’t try to do everything at once!
That’s all. Thanks for watching!