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Knowing what is an adjective and what is an adverb is very important in English grammar. For example, the following sentences are typical mistakes, caused by confusion over the difference between adjectives and adverbs.

"He works hardly." ("He works hard.")
"She writes good." ("He writes well.")
"It's a really problem." ("It's a real problem.")

Adjectives describe nouns.
"A good student."
"A nice day."
"He is interesting."

Adverbs describe verbs or adjectives.
"He eats well."
"She learns quickly."
"A well-known book."
"I'm really tired."


1. Some adjectives and adverbs have the same form.

"She's a fast driver." (adj)
"She drives fast." (adv)

"TOEFL is a hard exam." (adj)
"The students work hard." (adv)

"She has straight hair." (adj)
"He went straight home." (adv)

2. Not all adverbs end in -ly.

"He is a good student."
"She works well with others."

3. Some adverbs have two meanings.

"He works hard."
"I hardly know him." (barely)

"She sat close to the conductor on the bus." (next to)
"I listened closely to what he said." (paying attention)

"You're dead right!" (completely right)
"This snake is deadly - watch out for it." (fatal)

"He was fairly treated by the Immigration authorities." (justly)
"It's fairly cold today." (quite)

"How do you feel? Fine." (well)
"Finely chop the tomatoes." (in small pieces)

"The website is free of charge." (no money needed)
"Children can play freely in this park." (no limits to their freedom)

"We'll need to raise prices high in order to survive." (high prices)
"I think highly of him." (a high opinion)
"He's highly paid." (very well paid)

"He arrived late for the meeting." (not on time)
"There have been a few complaints lately." (recently)

"She walked right up to him and demanded to see the manager." (didn't stop until she got close to him)
"He rightly thought that he was going to lose his job." (correctly thought)

"He wrongly told her that he had been promoted." (incorrectly)
"This is spelt wrong." (incorrect)
(You can only use 'wrong' when it's after the verb.)

4. Some words that end in -ly are not adverbs, but are adjectives.
For example, lovely, friendly, silly, lonely.

"She is silly."
"She behaves in a silly way."

"Her children are lovely."
"He treated her in a lovely way."

5. Some verbs are followed by adjectives.

"You look good today!"
"This soup tastes nice."
"He seems pleasant."
"I don't feel very happy at the moment."

In these examples, you are describing the subject (such as 'the soup') rather than the verb ('tastes').

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