myQBook English Grammar Concepts

Common Mistakes: Adverb or Adjective?

Many times, students make mistakes when choosing between an adjective and an adverb. For example:

I surf good on big waves.

Good is an adjective, but in the above sentence, it modifies a verb (surf). This is incorrect because adjectives only modify nouns, not verbs.

The correct sentence is:

I surf well on big waves.

Well is an adverb, and it correctly modifies the verb in the sentence. Always be sure to have adjectives and adverbs in the right place. Here are some commonly confused adjectives and adverbs.










Consider the following sentences:

I perform my job real well.

I felt badly when he lost to his opponent.

In the first example, “real”, an adjective, is describing “well”, also an adjective. This is not correct. In this sentence “real” should be changed to “really” so that an adverb is describing the adjective "well". The correct sentence should be:

I perform my job really well.

In the second example, “badly”, an adverb, is describing “I”, a noun. This is not correct. “Badly” should be changed to “bad” so that an adjective is describing the noun.

Some people may think that in the second example, "badly" is describing "felt", which is a verb. But this is also incorrect because in this sentence, felt acts as a linking verb and linking verbs are not modified by anything. So in this sentence, the adverb "badly" is in fact describing the noun "I". The correct sentence should be:

I felt bad when he lost to his opponent.


Words such as fast and hard, can be both adjectives and adverbs. For example:

Even with a fast car, the thief couldn’t escape from the police.

Even though the thief ran fast, he couldn’t escape the police.

In which sentence is “fast” an adverb? Where is it an adjective? In the first sentence, “fast” acts as an adjective because it is describing the noun “car”. In the second sentence, “fast” is an adverb because it is describing the verb “ran”.

Unfortunately, there is no rule for knowing which words can be both adjectives and adverbs; you just have to know them.

More detailed information on adjectives vs. adverbs is covered in the next grade level grammar concepts.


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Conjunctive Adverbs

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