Techincal Tuesdays: Adverbs

Adverb: words that usually modify--that is limit or restrict the mean of--verbs. They may also modify adjectives, other adverbs, phrases or even entire sentences. (Merriam-Webster.com, retrieved February 12, 2019) 

Most adverbs are formed by adding -ly to an adjective unless the word ends in y. In that case the y is changed to an i and then the -ly suffix is added. (Paraphrased from the same source as above.)

However, there are many adverbs that do not end in -ly.

Using adverbs successfully in a sentence can be a bit tricky. The advice to cut out your adverbs, come from adverbs modifying verbs in a sentence when the sentence should be strengthened by using a more precise verb. However, writing a good narrative greatly depends on the ability of the writer to hone in on the important moments, finely tune the sentence tension, and slow the pace of the narrative in that all important moment action. Adverbs are frequently necessary to that objective.

So let's look at some successful use of adverbs. Here are two examples from a short story I'm working on right now.

The landlord wanted his rent, again.

When I finally laid my eyes on her, she was not what I expected.

Again is being used as an adverb that restricts, refines or modifies the entire sentence. The landlord wanted his rent. Perfectly serviceable sentence. By adding the word again, I am in a singular word, conveying my character's inability to manage his finances. It makes the sentence more relevant to the current situation, and conveys the cynicism of the story.

In the other example, 'When I laid my eyes on her, she was not what I expected.' is also not a bad sentence. The word finally, in a single word, also conveys how long I've been trying to find the her of the sentence. Again, I am getting a lot of mileage out of a single word. I'm condensing the long, boring part of tracking the her down into a single word.

Adverbs are meant to be used in just this way. So practice, practice, practice using your adverbs to get the most mileage out of them as possible. In that way you can evoke so much more with just a word, than you can in an entire paragraph. And a lot times, especially if you are writing a short story where words are limited, it can be a good thing.




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