Newton's cradle in mid swing

Regular and Irregular Adverbs

Regular Adverbs

Regular adverbs are adverbs that are formed by adding “-ly” to the end of an adjective counterpart in one way or another according to normal spelling rules.

Some regular adverbs are formed by adding only “-ly” to the end of an adjective.

The dog is quick. (adjective)
The dog runs quickly. (adverb)

Sarah is nice. (adjective)
Sarah treats people nicely. (adverb)

James is willing to help. (adjective)
James helps others willingly. (adverb)

Adjectives ending in “-ic” are changed into their adverb form by adding “-ally” to the end, except in the case of the word public, which simply requires “-ly” to become publicly.

The manager took drastic action. (adjective)
The manager responded drastically. (adverb)

Andy is very sarcastic. (adjective)
Andy speaks sarcastically. (adverb)

This is a historic site. (adjective)
This site is historically important. (adverb)

Adjectives ending in “-y” are made adverbs by changing the “-y” to “i” and adding “-ly.”

The dog is happy. (adjective)
The dog wagged his tail happily. (adverb)

That test was easy. (adjective)
I passed the test easily. (adverb)

Trent is angry. (adjective)
Trent stomped away angrily. (adverb)

Adjectives ending in “-le” or “-ue” are made into adverbs by removing the final “e” and adding “-ly.”

John is a simple man. (adjective)
John likes to live simply. (adverb)

His story seems to be true. (adjective)
He truly experienced everything he recounted. (adverb)

Yesterday was a horrible day. (adjective)
Everything went horribly wrong yesterday. (adverb)

Irregular Adverbs

Irregular adverbs are adverbs that are not formed by adding “-ly” to an adjective. Irregular adverbs do not follow simple spelling rules like regular adverbs do and must be memorized. Some irregular adverbs are formed with apparent disregard for conventional spelling rules, while others are not spelled differently from their adjective forms at all.

Perhaps one of the most obvious and commonly used irregular adverbs is well. It has no apparent relation to its adjective counterpart good.

You did a good job. (adjective)
You performed well. (adverb)

Many irregular adverbs are words that may be used as adjectives or adverbs without changing spelling.

The team holds monthly meetings. (adjective)
The team holds meetings monthly. (adverb)

He is a fast runner. (adjective)
He runs fast. (adverb)

Sam is always late. (adjective)
Sam always arrives late. (adverb)

It should also be noted that some tricky “-ly” words may only function as adjectives or adverbs.

John is friendly. (adjective only)

We cannot correctly say that John treats people friendly to mean that he is a friendly person.

Tim has been sick lately. (adverb only)

We cannot say that Tim arrived lately to mean that Tim was late.