Correct Use of Adverbs

Correct Use of Adverbs

Use of Some Typical Adverbs


‘Too’ means more than enough. Therefore too should not be used in place of very or much, otherwise it would give absurd meaning.

For example, if we say. “I am too happy to hear of your success”, it would mean that “I am happy to the extent I should not have been.” Certainly this cannot be the intention of the speaker.

The correct form of this sentence would be, “I am very happy to hear of your success.”

It should be remembered that ‘too’ has a negative sense or the sense of undesirability. Too should be used keeping in mind this sense of its meaning and implication. For example, the following sentences are wrong:

  • You are too kind to me.
  • She is too beautiful.
  • He is too intelligent.
  • You are too faithful to me.

Against these the following sentences are correct:

  • The day is too hot.
  • The price is too high for me.
  • The house is too small for my family.
  • You are still too weak.
  • The weather is too cold.
  • It is too much for me to bear.

Too + Infinitive

In some sentences an Infinitive is used after too. In such sentences also the sense of too is negative. In these sentences the use of too would be correct if it is meant to be negative, but its use would be wrong if it is meant to be affirmative. For example, see the following sentences:

  • He is too poor to buy a car.
  • He is too rich to buy a car.

The first of these sentences is correct because it means that:

  • “He is so poor that he cannot buy a car.”

But the second sentence is wrong because it would mean

  • “He is so rich that he cannot buy a car.”

The correct form of the second sentence would be,

  • “He is rich enough to buy a car.”

The following sentences are correct:

  • He is too weak to run.
  • The river is too deep for me to cross.
  • The enemy is too strong to be overcome easily.
  • The problem is too difficult for me to solve.

Very and Much

Very’ is used with Present Participle, and ‘much’ with Past Participle or Verb. As:

  • It was very surprising.
  • The game was very exciting.
  • He was much surprised.
  • I was much shocked to hear the news.
  • He was much confused.
  • He talks much.
  • He drinks much.

Note: But with some Past Participles the use of very is correct. As:

  • I was very pleased to hear the news.
  • He was very tired at the end of the journey.

Very and Much

There is one more difference in the use of very and much. Very is used before the Positive Degree of an Adjective or an Adverb, and much before the Comparative Degree of an Adjective or an Adverb. As:

  • Ram’s house is much bigger than Mohan’s.
  • Mohan is much more trustworthy than Sohan.
  • Hari is much better placed than Rajesh.
  • Ram is very intelligent.
  • Mahesh is very poor.

Note: Under the above rule very much can also be used (in place of much) in the Comparative Degree, but not in the Positive Degree.

Very and Much

Very and Much can both be used in the Superlative Degree also but the rule is that Very is used after the Article the, and much before the. As:

  • He is much the best boy of the class.
  • Rakesh is much the richest man of the town.
  • Cow is the very gentlest animal.
  • This is the very best book available here.

Much and Very Much

Very much can be used with the Verb in Affirmative sentences only, but in the Negative sentences only much can be used. As:

  • I love him very much.
  • I don’t love him much. (Wrong to say—“I don’t love him very much”)

Very much, Too much, Much too and only Too

All these four phrases have different meanings. ‘Very much’ means ‘completely’, ‘too much’ and ‘much too’ mean ‘more than necessary or desirable’, only too means ‘much’. As:

  • I am very much obliged to you.
  • His performance is very much disappointing.
  • It gives me too much pain.
  • It is much too painful.
  • I am only too glad to be here.

Too and Even

The difference between too and even is that too is used only for emphasis, while even is used in the sense of ‘against or contrary to hope or expectation.’

For example, a brother is normally expected to help a brother, but if a brother does not help, we shall say:

  • Even my brother did not help me.’


  • He helped me and my friend too.
  • He is intelligent and industrious too.
  • Even my father did not support me.
  • I could not even recognize him.

Since and Ever Since

They are both Adverbs of time. Since means from a certain point of time in the Past, while ever since means from a certain point of time to the Present.

They are used with the Present Perfect Tense, but in the Indirect Narration they are used with Past Perfect Tense. As:

  • I met him five years ago and have remembered him ever since.
  • We were together in school days but we have met only twice since.
  • He assured me that he had never done so since.
  • We lived in Kashmir several years ago but we have remembered those happy days ever since.

Else …… but

Else is followed by but, not than.

  • None else but the Prime Minister will inaugurate the Seminar.
  • I met none else but your father.
  • It is nothing else but arrogance.

Seldom or never/Seldom if ever

The correct expressions are seldom or never (not ever) and seldom if ever (not never).

  • He seldom or never misbehaves with anybody.
  • He seldom if ever drinks.

Before and Ago

Both these are Adverbs of Time. Before is used with Simple Past Tense or Present Perfect Tense, while Ago is used with Simple Past Tense only (not with Present Perfect Tense). As:

  • I never before met such a rude man.
  • I have seen Jaipur before also.
  • I met him a month ago.
  • His father died a month ago.

Note: Ago suggests Past Tense, therefore it should not be used with any form of the Present Tense. Therefore the following sentences are wrong:

  • I have arrived here only a little ago.
  • I have completed my work an hour ago.

Yet and Still

Yet means ‘till now’ and still means ‘even now’. Generally yet is used at the end of a sentence, and still after an auxiliary or before single verbs.

  • He is still in service.
  • You are still a student.
  • I still love you.
  • He still needs my help.
  • He has not come yet.
  • He is sleeping yet.

Yet and Already

Already is used in Affirmative sentences and it means before this point of time. Yet is used in Negative or Interrogative sentences, and it means even now or not till now. As:

  • I have already finished my work.
  • He has left for office already.
  • I have not yet finished my work.
  • He has not yet left for office.
  • Are you not yet ready ?

Correct Use of Adverbs

Yet/Already/So far/uptil now

All these are generally used with Present Perfect Tense. As:

  • He has not yet come.
  • I have already met him.
  • He has not met me so far.
  • He has not met me uptil now.


(a) Just means right now / not long before. Normally it is used with Present Perfect Tense. As:

  • He has just arrived.
  • I have just finished my story.

Just can be used with simple past tense also, and there it means only / barely. As:

  • He just caught the train.
  • He just managed to escape.

(c) Just has one more meaning suggesting the sense of at this very moment / exactly. As:

  • The clock has just struck two.
  • He has just gone out.
  • This is just what I wanted.


Both these are Adverbs of Quantity. The difference between them is that fairly has the sense of liking / appreciation, while rather has the sense of disliking / disapproval.

Therefore, care should be taken not to use expressions in which there may be mingling of liking and disliking. For example, the following expressions are wrong:

(a) Fairly dull, fairly ugly, fairly bad, fairly slow, fairly cunning

(b) rather intelligent, rather beautiful, rather good, rather quick, rather honest, rather gentle

In the expressions given above fairly should be used in place of rather, and rather in place of fairly.

  • The weather is fairly pleasant. (Not rather pleasant)
  • The day is rather hot. (Not fairly hot)
  • The house is fairly comfortable.
  • The house is rather uncomfortable.


Normally Hard is an Adjective, but it can also be used as an Adverb. As an Adverb it means hard labour. It is used after the Verb. As:

  • He worked hard (not hardly) for the examination.
  • He tried hard (not hardly) to win the prize.

Hardly is an Adverb of Degree. It means ‘very little’ / scarcely. It is used before a Single verb or after the First auxiliary in a Compound Verb. As:

  • I have seen him only once and therefore I hardly know what type of man he is.
  • He was so changed that I could hardly recognize him.
  • It is a new medicine; it has hardly been tried yet.

Note: For emphasis ‘Hardly’ can be used at the beginning of a sentence also. As: Hardly had the train stopped when he jumped out.


Late as Adverb means late in time. As:

  • He comes late every day.
  • The theft was committed late at night.
  • He married late in life.

Lately means ‘recently’. As:

  • He has lately started a new business.
  • He has lately shifted to a new house.


Most as Adverb means ‘maximum’/ ‘greatest’. As:

  • The man whom I like most is John.
  • The man who talks most is often hollow.

Mostly means ‘largely’. As:

  • The audience consisted mostly of students.
  • The students were mostly inattentive.
  • His stock consists mostly of outdated things.

The Split Infinitive

An Infinitive, as we know, consists of to + verb. Therefore no adverb should be placed between to and the Verb. If we do so, we shall be splitting the Infinitive. In Grammar it is called split infinitive fault. For example, look at this sentence:

  • “I request you to kindly grant me leave.”

In this sentence kindly has been placed between to and grant. This is a grammatical fault.

The correct form of this sentence would be: ‘I request you kindly to grant me leave.’ Accordingly, the following sentences are correct:

  • I advise you to read the book carefully.
  • I instruct you to call the doctor immediately.
  • I direct you to reach the office punctually every day.

Present Perfect and Adverb

In a sentence in the Present Tense, no Adverb or Adverbial phrase suggestive of Past Tense should be used. As such the following sentences are wrong:

  • I have arrived here yesterday.
  • I have joined my duties last month.
  • I have passed M. A. last year.

The above noted sentences are in the Present Perfect Tense, while the adverbs connected with them are suggestive of Past Tense. Therefore, they are all wrong. The correct form of these sentences would be as follows:

  • I arrived here yesterday.
  • I joined my duties last month.
  • I passed M. A. last year.

Adverb and Preposition

(a) Normally no Preposition is used before an Adverb. Therefore no Preposition should be used before such Adverbs as: Respectfully, humbly, politely, kindly, slowly, etc. Therefore the following sentences are wrong.

  • With respectfully I beg to submit.
  • With humbly I state.
  • With politely I reply as under.

With should be removed from all these sentences.

(b) Sometimes some time-showing words, such as morning, evening, day, night, month, year, etc. have such qualifying words before them as this, that, next, last, all, etc. In that case no Preposition is used before them. As:

  • He came last evening.
  • He left the next morning.
  • He worked all day.
  • He is coming this evening.
  • He did not go that day.

(c) But if the time – showing words are used without the qualifying words (this, that, next, last, etc.), proper Preposition should be used before them. As:

  • I shall meet you in the evening.
  • I don’t sleep in the day.
  • I shall come on sunday.
  • Don’t come in the night.

(d) Home is normally a Noun. But it is also used as an Adverb of Place. In that case, neither a Preposition nor a relative Adjective should be used before it. As:

  • “I am going home.”

This sentence is correct. But we cannot say:

  • I am going to home. or I am going my home.

The following sentences are correct:

  • Now we should return home.
  • When do you go home ?
  • I go home by bus.

Thanks for reading about “correct use of adverbs”.

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