Adverbs vs. Adjectives

English Grammar Rules


Adjectives describe nouns (things).

  • My dog is slow.

Slow is an adjective since it describes the noun (my dog).

  • How is my dog? Slow


Adverbs describe verbs (actions).

  • My dog eats slowly.

Slowly is an adverb since it describes the way my dog eats.

  • How does my dog eat? Slowly.

Some adverbs are used to modify an adjective.

Adverbs that do this are: very, extremely, really, totally, absolutely, quite, fairly, well. These are normally placed before the adjective.

  • He is very rich.
  • They are extremely happy.
  • She was totally crazy.
  • My dog is well trained.

Adverbs and Adjectives with the same form

There are a number of adjectives / adverbs that take the same form. It therefore depends on the sentence context as to whether it is an adjective or an adverb.

The adjectives / adverbs that take the same form include:
fast, hard, early, late, high, low, right, wrong, straight and long.

  • Adam has a fast car. (Adjective)
  • Adam speaks fast. (Adverb)

Good vs. Well

Good and Well are two words that tend to create confusion for learners of English.

Good is an adjective
Well is an adverb.

  • She is a good singer.
  • She sings well.

Though sometimes we use well as an adjective when we are talking about health and well-being.

  • A: How are you today?
    B: I'm well, thanks.

(I'm well is a better and more common answer to this question than 'Fine' or 'Good', although these are also reasonably common.)

Next activity

To practice the difference between adverbs and adjectives, try our interactive game at:
Adverbs vs. Adjectives

Check out our grammar notes about Compound Adjectives which sometimes contain both adjectives and adverbs.

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Last Updated: 02 December 2014
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