Adjectives and Adverbs

Adjectives and adverbs are two categories whose prototypical function is to qualify or modify the meaning of basic grammatical categories such as nouns and verbs. Adjectives and adverbs share important characteristics. Some words can be used as both adjectives and adverbs and some grammatical structures using adjectives or adverbs are very similar. There is a very large variety of grammatical constructions that use adjectives and adverbs, as there are many ways to qualify something. In some cases, the nouns or verbs that are qualified are omitted or implied, which means that adjectives and adverbs are sometimes used independently from nouns or verbs, and have a predicate or deictic value.

Adjectives and adverbs are two of the more important parts of speech. These parts of speech help writers with several goals, but especially the following: 

  • The creation of descriptive sentences
  • Clarity of expression
  • Development of tone and mood
  • Persuading readers
Adjectives Adjectives modify (provide more information about) nouns and pronouns. Usually, they precede the words they modify. Example: The professor yelled. This sentence has no adjective, no word describing the noun “professor.” Example: The cranky professor yelled. This sentence has an adjective, “cranky,” which describes/modifies the noun, “professor.” Adjectives often answer the following questions: (a) Which? (b) What kind? (c) How many? Example: Four yellow snakes slithered past the younger man. Four reveals how many snakes, yellow reveals what kind of snakes, and younger reveals which man we’re discussing.

Types of Adjectives + Examples

Descriptive Adjective

Coordinate Adjectiv

Cumulative Adjectives

Expresses a quality or attribute of a noun.



Example: Will is my big brother.

Work together to modify the same noun; separated by commas or and


Example: The book was long and boring.

Build on each other by describing different qualities of a noun


Example: Six sweet tiny kittens meowed for their dinner.

Compound Adjective

Proper Adjective

Demonstrative Adjective

Multiple words that work as one word to modify a noun


Example: I am looking for a full-time job.

Refers to specific nouns and must be capitalized


Example: I adore Japanese food.

Points to which noun you’re speaking about


Example: Would you like this bicycle?

Distributive Adjective

Indefinite Adjective

Interrogative Adjective

Modifies each member of a group equally


Example: Each attendee received a free gift.

Describes nouns or pronouns in a non-specific way


Example: There are some tickets left.

Asks a question and comes before a noun or pronoun


Example: Which shirt did you choose?

Possessive Adjective

Predicate Adjective

Quantitative Adjective

Shows possession and comes before its corresponding noun


Example: Is that their Ferrari?

Modifies the subject of the sentence and comes after a linking verb


Example: We used to be rich.

Describes the amount of something


Example: She has two children


Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Very often, adverbs end in –ly. 

Example: The man drove down the street. This sentence has no adverb, or word modifying the verb “drove.”

Example: The very nice man slowly drove down the street. This sentence has an adverb, “very,” which modifie the adjective, “nice” and an adverb “slowly,” which modifies drove. 

Adverbs often answer the following questions: (a) How? (b) Where? (c) When? 

Example: Everywhere I look, I see turtles lazily basking on a log. Everywhere is an adverb indicating where; lazily is an adverb that describes how the turtles bask. 

* Time words, especially those that indicate frequency, are often adverbs. Remember words such as always, usually, sometimes, never, and often. 

* Some other of the more common adverbs that do NOT end in –ly: very, there. If you have doubts about how words function, consult a dictionary.

Types of Adverbs + Examples

Adverb of Time

Frequency Adverbs

Adverb of Place

Adverb of Manner

These answer when.



Examples: Later,Ago

These answer how often.


Examples: Sometimes,Regulary

These answer where.



Examples: In, out, below

These answer the question of how.


Examples: Clearly, Honestly

Adverb of Degree

Reason Adverbs

Relative Adverbs

Attitude Adverb

These answers how much.




Examples: Too, Very, Quite

These answer why.




Examples: Consequently, resultantly

These join clauses and sentences together.



Examples: where, when, why

These express the speaker’s attitude




Examples: Frankly, clearly


  1. Suffolk County Community College. (2019, August 9). Adjectives and Adverbs.
  2. Aniee Asghar. (2022, September 10). 10 Kinds Of Adverbs.
  3. Washtenaw Community College. (2021, January 22). Writing Guide: Adjectives and Adverbs. 
  4. YourDictionary. (2018, July 11). Types of Adjectives: 12 Different Forms To Know.