Adjectives vs. Adverbs

Adjective:

An adjective is a word that modifies a noun, sometimes called a “describing” word because an adjective tells us something about the noun. In the following examples, the nouns are in italics and the adjectives are underlined:

  • I have a large dog.
  • I don’t like to wear white socks.
  • I had a huge muffin for breakfast.

A sentence may contain a noun without an adjective, but an adjective cannot function without a noun. Basically, adjectives answer these questions about nouns: Which? How many? What kind? Multiple adjectives may be used to describe a single noun.

  • This morning was dark and frosty.

Adverb:

An adverb modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb, but does not modify a noun. Like adjectives, adverbs are also descriptive but they generally describe actions or qualities by telling us “how” and sometimes “when, where, and why.” In the following examples, the adverbs are in bold and the other components are explained in parentheses.

  • I have a very fluffy cat. (“Fluffy” is an adjective. How fluffy? Very fluffy.)
  • I try to arrive early for appointments. (“Arrive” is a verb. When do I arrive? Early.)
  • I was extremely tired this morning. (“Was” is a form of the verb “be.” In this case, the adverb follows the verb but modifies the adjective, which is “tired.” How tired? Extremely.)

It may be helpful to note that adverbs often end in “-y” or “-ly,” as in the examples above. (When do they end in “-y” or “-ly”? Often.)

Sources: The Purdue OWL. Purdue U Writing Lab, 2010. Web. Nov. 13, 2012.