Adverb Forms

Like the bowls of porridge in the Three Bears' house, adverbs have three forms:

Positive—when you don't want to make or imply a comparison
Comparative—when you want to compare two things
Superlative—when you want to compare three or more things

List of Examples
- He sighed meaningfully.
- I've never smoked.
- You'll be dearly sorry.
- I totally didn't expect that.
- She accidentally read ahead.
- Tommy waited more patiently.
- We hardly see each other.
- They also like Pokémon.
- I remember those moments fondly.
- Juan raced quickly across the field.



"Kyle bashfully took Stephanie's hand and nervously asked her to dance."

In this tale of awkward romance, bashfully and nervously are both positive adverbs because they don't compare Kyle's skills with the ladies—or lack thereof—to anything. They simply describe his sweet moves.

"Jane stays at work later than Brody, so he picks up their daughter from hacky sack practice more frequently."

In this sentence that must have time traveled here from 1994, later and more frequently are both comparative adverbs. Later compares how long Jane stays at work to how long Brody stays at work. More frequently compares how often Brody picks up their kid to how often Jane's on chauffeur duty.

"Even though she didn't know any of the words, Brenda sang the loudest and most enthusiastically of any kid in the Christmas recital."

Here we have two holly jolly examples of superlative adverbs, both of which describe how Brenda belted out the holiday jams.


Common mistakes

This one gets a lot of people's goats and inspires a decent amount of cringing, but it's not a particular pet peeve of Shmoop's. Still, we prefer it to be used correctly, so we'll give you the LD.

The difference comes down to the verb in the sentence.
If it's an action verb, you would use well since it's an adverb.
If it's a linking verb, you would use good since it's an adjective.

In these instances, good is deemed the predicate adjective since it refers back to the noun before the verb. Well can also be a predicate adjective, but you generally only say "I am well" when someone is asking about your health.

For inquiries about your general state of being, saying "I'm good" is totally appropriate. However, if someone asks you how you're doing, then you'd say, "I'm doing well." You wouldn't say "good" unless you were doing good things, like building an orphanage for puppies or explaining the infield fly rule to your little brother for the third time.


"My sister must have slept really well since I heard her singing "Single Ladies" during her morning shower."


"My parents bought me a new iPad, TV, and Xbox the last time I did so good on a test."

Which sentence is correct? World-renowned goddess Beyoncé would tell you that the first sentence is correct because well is describing the verb singing. In the second sentence, you should also use the adverb well. You performed an action; you took a test. The verb did is one of action, so give it the adverb it deserves.


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