Adjectives and Adverbs

Download this explanation in PDF here.
Try an exercise about adjectives and adverbs here.


We use adjectives to describe nouns and pronouns. Adjectives can come before nouns or after linking verbs.

Before the noun: After a linking verb: (Linking verbs are verbs like 'be', 'become' and 'seem' which are not actions but instead link the subject to an adjective, noun or phrase that gives us more information about the subject. Read more about linking verbs here.)

We make the comparative and superlative of adjectives by adding either '-er / -est' or using 'more / most'. You can read more about comparatives and superlatives here. Adverbs

Adverbs are used to describe verbs, adjectives or other adverbs. They are often (but not always) made by adding 'ly' to the adjective. We make the comparative and superlative forms of adverbs by using 'more / most'. Adverb or adjective?

It's important to remember to use an adjective after a linking verb. However, this can be tricky as some verbs can be used as both normal verbs and as linking verbs. One test is to replace the verb with the same form of 'be' and see if the sentence still makes sense. If it does, the verb is being used as a linking verb and so needs an adjective, not an adverb. Irregular forms

Normally, we make an adverb by adding 'ly' to an adjective. If the adjective ends in 'y', we change 'y' to 'i' and add 'ly'. If the adjective ends in 'le', we drop 'e' and add 'y'. However, there are some exceptions. There are also some adjectives that end in 'ly' and don't have an adverb form. Instead we use 'in a ---way'. These are friendly, lovely, lonely, lively, and silly. Good / well

'Well' can be confusing because it is both the adverb form of 'good', and an adjective that means 'healthy and fine'. Of course, we also use 'good' as an adjective. Hard / hardly

'Hard' is both an adjective and an adverb. 'Hardly' is also an adverb, but it means 'almost nothing' or 'almost none'. Late / lately

'Late' is an adjective and an adverb. There is also an adverb 'lately', which means 'recently'. Modern English and Adverbs

Many native English speakers are starting to use adjectives where traditionally we need an adverb. Some people think this is incorrect, but it's very common. This is especially common with comparatives and superlatives. Of course, it's your choice if you'd like to follow traditional grammar or use the more modern style. I'd suggest that if you're writing formally, it's probably better to use an adverb. In all my exercises here, I use the traditional style.

Try an exercise about adjectives and adverbs here.

Would you like more Perfect English Grammar?

1: You could sign up for my FREE email newsletter! I'll send you an email whenever I make new lessons.

Subscribe to my newsletter!

2: You could subscribe to Perfect English Grammar PLUS and get video explanations and more exercises.

Subscribe to Perfect English Grammar PLUS!

3: You could buy my book!

'A' and 'The' Explained