Usage of Adverb Modifiers in a Sentence

In grammar, a word modifies another word to add meaning and clarify the word to the reader. Modifiers are typically descriptive words such as adjectives or adverbs. But what does an adverb modify in a sentence?

What Is an Adverb?

A sentence can consist of many different words, phrases, and clauses, but it can still be described in one word — an adverb. An adverb is a word that primarily expresses or modifies the manner, rate, or degree of action. Groups of words can also be adverb phrases or adverb clauses.

An adverb modifies or describes a verb, adjective, or another adverb to add more information to your writing. It can describe an action as to how fast, far, cleverly, or when the action is done. Modifiers allow the user to identify how something is done and what it means.

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What Does an Adverb Modify?

Adverbs are words that modify or alter verbs, adjectives, or other adjectives. Many adverbs modify verbs and adjectives by telling how, when, where, why, under what conditions, or to what degree.

They also play a role in connecting sentences. To know more about what an adverb modifies, below are some examples with explanations.

Adverbs Modifying Verbs

Adverbs are most commonly found to modify verbs in a sentence. It denotes why, how, where, when, how often, and to what extent an action is carried out.

The different types of adverbs can be used to modify verbs and provide more information. Adverbs ending in -ly are easier to spot in a sentence, but there are other adverbs with different endings.

Example 1: The girls jumped happily in the rain.

The adverb happily modifies the verb jumped by telling how.

Example 2: We will shift to our new house tomorrow.

The adverb tomorrow modifies the verb shift by telling when.

Example 3: Please leave the umbrella outside.

The adverb outside modifies the verb leave by telling where.

Adverbs Modifying Adjectives

Adverbs can also modify adjectives in a sentence. Nouns and pronouns can be described with adjectives.

But adverbs can enrich or clarify adjectives, making them increasingly clearer and more precise to understand. Often, adverbs function as intensifiers to strengthen the meaning of an adjective to the reader.

Example 1: The food at the party was so delicious.

The adverb so modifies the adjective delicious by describing the taste intensity of the food at the party.

Example 2: My recently married neighbor was invited for dinner.

The adverb recently modifies the adjective married to clarify when the couple got married.

Example 3: The last question was the most challenging part of the exam.

The adverb most modifies the adjectivechallenging to indicate the degree of difficulty of the question.

Adverbs Modifying Other Adverbs

Besides modifying verbs and adjectives, an adverb can also modify other adverbs. These phrases will make your writing more descriptive and precise.

They provide more information or intensify the degree of the adverb in a sentence. When one adverb modifies another, this is also known as an adverbial phrase.

Example 1: She completed her exam too quickly.

The adverb too modifies the adverb quickly by indicating the degree of how quickly the exam was completed.

Example 2: I read through the document very carefully.

The adverb very modifies the adverb carefully by indicating the degree of how carefully the document was read.

Example 3: The young girl sings quite well.

The adverb quite modifies the adverb well by indicating the degree of how well the girl sings.

Adverbs Modifying Entire Sentence

Some adverbs can modify an entire sentence, known as sentence adverbs. They indicate a general feeling about all the information in the sentence rather than a specific thing. The adverb at the beginning of the sentence usually modifies the sentence that follows.

Example 1: Fortunately, she reached the exam venue on time.

The adverb fortunately indicates a sign of relief that she was not late and reached the venue on time.

Example 2: Hopefully, the situation will be better soon.

The adverb hopefully is used to express a sense of optimism for the situation to improve shortly.


Now that you have read through the article, you don’t have to scratch your head questioning, ‘what does an adverb modify?’ Words are the most powerful tools in our possession.

You need to learn how adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, and even whole sentences to speak and write better. Understanding the usage of adverbs and correctly using them in your sentences will improve your overall writing quality.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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