Introducing Adverbs


A way to introduce adverbs to students….

               Parts-of-speech qualify as abstract ideas—those theoretical things that you can’t taste, feel or point to.  They must be understood.

               It helps to think of them as a word’s job.  Just as I can be a teacher, bookkeeper, or writer at different times, a word can be a noun, verb, adjective or adverb at different times.  You have to look at what it is doing to know.

               Start with a simple phrase.  “The boy jumped quickly.” The job of the word “quickly” is to tell you how the boy jumped.  In “the boy jumped daily,” the word “daily” says when the boy ran.  Or you could say, “the boy jumped eastward,” and “eastward” would tell you where the boy jumped.  All three jobs–telling how, when and where—are adverb jobs. 

               “The boy jumped _______” is an adverb-generator.  If you need a list of words that can act as adverbs, just think of words that will fit in the blank.  List all you can in 60 or 90 seconds and you will have lots. 

               Kids can make such a list as young as 7.  Why do they have such trouble understanding that these are adverbs?  Perhaps because words that sit in the blank can be so different? 

               With several students I’d let the one who wrote the most words read his or her entire list—then have others read their four favorites. 

               You can use the lists to teach more about adverbs.

               Did a lot of your words end in –ly?  Well, a lot of words get –ly after their names when they become adverbs—quickly, slowly, wildly, constantly, wildly, happily.  Other words, however, don’t need –ly to make they change.

               Are some of your words familiar nouns?  Like “home” or “Monday”?  Well, these words have hired out as adverbs saying where or when.   

               And did you write some phrases?  If you use this adverb generator long enough, phrases like “in the air,” “for joy,” or even “over the moon” come to mind.  These are prepositional phrases–which have a connecting word followed by a noun—can do the job of an adverb. 

               Other phrases like “all day long” aren’t easy to categorize.  Just be assured if they tell you how, when or where the boy jumped, the phrase is acting as an adverb.

               Other adverb generators—

               The ship sailed ________.

               The girl laughed ________.

               The teacher stared _________.

               The clock fell __________.

               Adverb generators are a noun followed by an intransitive verb—a verb that cannot take an object.  Transitive verbs can be followed by a noun.  For example, the girl ran the business or the boy ran a race.  Linking verbs can be followed by a noun or adjective—mom was an actress or dad was happy.  

               It’s good to have students keep a list of adverbs on hand to use in mad-libs or in assignments on sentence variety.