We usually think of adverbs as words that modify verbs and end in -ly. Many adverbs do. But they don’t have to end in -ly, and they can describe other modifiers—both adjectives and other adverbs. Our focus here is on basic sentence structure, however, so we will discuss only how adverbs modify verbs.

Adverbs can appear almost anywhere in a sentence. In the following sentences, the adverb is italicized, and the verb that the adverb modifies or describes is marked with a υ:

Some adverbs tell how an action is done: How did the children suck their thumbs? Loudly. How did I tiptoe into the corridor? Quietly.

Another group of adverbs tell when an action happens: When did we learn the truth? Eventually. When did the doctors speak to the press? Later.

A third group of adverbs tell where an action happens: Where does she spend too much time? There. Where did the secretary deliver the package? Here.

Adverbs don’t have a great bearing on sentence structure. However, it is important to realize that adverbs sometimes appear in the middle of verb phrases. For example:

Northern Exposure is praised for its quirky, humane portrayal of life in Cicely, Alaska.