Position of Adverbs in English Sentences

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Advanced English Grammar Course

Adverbs are words that describe verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, or clauses. Adverbs often answer the questions “How?” and “In what way?” For example:

  • She sings beautifully.
    In what way does she sing? Beautifully.
  • He runs very fast.
    How fast does he run? Very fast.
  • I occasionally practice speaking English.
    How frequently do I practice? Occasionally.

The position of adverbs in the sentence depends on what type of adverb it is. Here are some general guidelines for knowing the position of adverbs:

#1 – Do not place an adverb between a verb and its object.

In the following sentence, painted is the verb, and the house is the object. Carefully is the adverb.

  • I carefully painted the house. = Correct
  • I painted the house carefully. = Correct
  • I painted carefully the house. = Incorrect

Here’s another example. In this sentence, read is the verb, a book is the object, and sometimes is the adverb.

  • sometimes read a book before bed. = Correct
  • Sometimesread a book before bed. = Correct
  • I read a book before bed sometimes. = OK, but informal
  • I read sometimes a book before bed. = Incorrect
Position of Adverbs in English Sentences Espresso English

“I sometimes read a book before bed.”

#2 – There are three normal positions for adverbs.

Front position: At the beginning of a clause

  • Suddenly the phone rang.
  • Fortunately, nobody was injured.
  • Maybe I’ll go for a walk.

Mid-position: Next to the main verb

  • always exercise before work.
  • They have completely forgotten about our appointment.
  • He was probably late for the interview.
  • She slowly began to recover from her illness.

End-position: At the end of a clause

  • You speak English well.
  • Please sit there.
  • They ate dinner quietly.
Position of Adverbs in English Sentences Espresso English

“They ate dinner quietly.”

#3 – The position of adverbs depends on their type. Some adverbs can go in various positions.

Adverbs of manner

Ex) quickly, slowly, easily, happily, well,* badly, seriously

  • Mid-position gives less emphasis to the adverb:
    • He quickly corrected his mistake.
    • She easily passed the test.
    • We happily accepted the invitation.
  • End-position gives more emphasis to the adverb:
    • He corrected his mistake quickly.
    • She passed the test easily.
    • We accepted the invitation happily.

* Adverbs of manner not ending in -ly (like well, hard, and fast) can only appear in the end position:

  • They dance well.
  • He’s working hard.
  • She runs fast.

Learn 20 adverbs of manner

Position of Adverbs in English Sentences Espresso English

“She runs fast.”

Adverbs of time & frequency

Definite frequency: Ex) daily,* weekly,* every year, last week

Front-position or end-position (more common).

  • I study English every day.
  • Every day, I study English.
  • We went to Australia last year.
  • Last year we went to Australia.

The single-word adverbs of frequency cannot go in the front-position:

  • I speak with my mother daily.
  • Let’s meet weekly to share updates on the project.

Indefinite frequency: Ex) often, usually, frequently, occasionally, sometimes, rarely, always, never, finally, eventually, soon

Always and never go in the mid-position, before the verb:

  • I always wake up early.
  • We never imagined this would be so hard.

The others can go in various positions:

  • Usually I take the bus to work.
  • usually take the bus to work.
  • Soon you’ll be finished with school.
  • You’ll soon be finished with school.
  • You’ll be finished with school soon.
  • We occasionally drink wine.
  • Occasionally we drink wine.
  • We drink wine occasionally.
  • We drink occasionally wine. = Incorrect!
    Remember never to put an adverb in between the verb and its object.

Adverbs of place

Ex) downstairs, outside, nearby, south/southward, towards, backwards, everywhere

Usually go in end-position or mid-position immediately after the verb:

  • The children are playing outside.
  • The glass shattered and the pieces flew everywhere.
  • They drove south/southward on the highway.
  • He walked towards the police station.

Connecting & commenting adverbs

Connecting adverbs show the relationship between events or ideas: Ex) however, anyway, then, next, similarly, additionally, furthermore, otherwise

Commenting adverbs show us the speaker’s attitude or opinion about the sentence: Ex) fortunately, surprisingly, stupidly, personally, honestly

Both of these usually go in the front-position…

  • First I went to the bank. Then I went to the post office.
  • The test will be difficult. However, the students are well prepared.
  • He doesn’t have a job. Furthermore, he’s not interested in finding one.
  • I dropped my wallet on the street. Surprisingly, an honest person found it and gave it back to me.
  • They showed me all the products available. Honestly, I didn’t like any of them.

…although for some of them other positions are possible:

  • They showed me all the products available. I didn’t like any of them, honestly.
  • They showed me all the products available. I honestly didn’t like any of them.

Adverbs of certainty

Ex) definitely, certainly, clearly, obviously, probably, maybe, perhaps

Maybe and perhaps usually go in the front-position:

  • Maybe we’ll go out to eat tonight.
  • Perhaps I should explain further.

Other adverbs of certainty usually go in the mid-position:

  • We’ll probably go out to eat tonight.
  • I should definitely explain further.
  • He clearly made a mistake.
  • That’s certainly not the case.

Emphasizing adverbs

Ex) very, really, extremely, terribly, quite, pretty, almost

These words usually go in the mid-position, immediately before the word that they emphasize.

  • We’re very tired.
  • Their new house is really impressive.
  • He plays the piano extremely badly.
  • This lesson is pretty easy to understand.
  • The employees are terribly underpaid.
  • It’s quite generous of you to let me stay at your house.
  • We almost got lost in the city.

Learn more: 30 advanced adverbs


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