Placement of Adverbs

Adverbs can be used in diverse ways, which means that they are very flexible in sentences; they can be moved around quite a bit without causing any grammatical irregularities.

Take a look at the following sentence: The speaker grimly faced the audience. The adverb in this sentence is ‘grimly’; moving it around a little, we get The speaker faced the audience grimly. There is nothing wrong with either of the two sentences. What this goes to show is that an adverb can be positioned at multiple points in a sentence, and the guide below will help you decide where your chosen adverb should go:


Adverbs used to begin sentences/clauses

Connecting adverbs

To place an adverb at the beginning of a sentence or clause is also known as ‘initial position adverb placement’, and the adverbs that are commonly used in these positions are known as ‘connecting adverbs’, such as:






These adverbs are known as connecting adverbs, quite simply, because they are used at the beginnings of phrases and sentences to connect them to what has been said before. For e.g.:

  I did not care for her tone. However, I let it go.

I began to dislike my course within months having signed up for it. Consequently, I never did well.

That was the Medieval section of the museum; next, we have the Industrial Revolution.


Adverbs of time

Time adverbs, like ‘tomorrow’, ‘yesterday’ and ‘sometimes’, are among the most flexible of all adverbs, and can often take initial position. For e.g.:

            Yesterday I was very busy, which is why I was unable to meet you.

            Tomorrow I am leaving for Calcutta.

            Sometimes we feel as if we do not belong in this group.


Adverbs in the middle

Focusing adverbs

‘Focusing adverbs’ are those adverbs that emphasise a part of the clause or sentence to which they belong, and are generally used mid-sentence. Focusing adverbs include adverbs of frequency (often, rarely, never, always, etc), adverbs of certainty (perhaps, probably, certainly, maybe, etc) and adverbs of comment (adverbs that are used to express opinion, such as smartly, responsibly, intelligently, etc). For e.g.:


            You are always late.

            I will probably be absent at the party.

            He acted responsibly by informing the authorities about the wallet he had found.


Note: Adverbs of frequency are used before the main verb, not the auxiliary verb.


Adverbs to end sentences

This is the most common position for adverbs in sentences.

Adverbs of manner

Adverbs of manner are used to describe how something is done, and are generally placed at the ends of sentences or clauses. For e.g.:

He wrote the answers correctly.

            His stammer caused him to speak haltingly.


Adverbs of place

Adverbs of place are used to describe the place where an event occurs, and are also positioned at the ends of sentences or clauses. For e.g.:

Father is sleeping upstairs.

            In a couple of days I will be travelling north.


Adverbs of time

Adverbs of time, as discussed earlier, can also find their ways to the ends of sentences or clauses. For e.g.:

I leave tomorrow afternoon.


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