What to say - good or well — and what’s the difference? If you’re stewing over these questions, you have problems . . . specifically, the problems in distinguishing between ADJECTIVES and ADVERBS. In your writing or speaking, of course, you don’t need to stick labels on adjectives and adverbs. But you do need to send the right word to the right place in order to communicate your meaning to the reader or listener.
Both adjectives and adverbs describe other words.
Adjectives describe a noun or pronoun - words that name a person, thing, place, or idea. What is the difference between sweater and that white turtleneck sweater? Sweater means any sweater at all. That, white, and turtleneck modify (change) the meaning of sweater from any sweater to one particular sweater. Adjectives usually precede the word they describe, but not always.
If some reporter were to describe the weather for us by saying,
we would not be entirely satisfied. We would want to know the answers to certain questions:
1. How, or to what extent, did it snow?
2. When did it snow?
3. Where did it snow?
Words that tell how, when, or where are adverbs.
If our reporter had answered the above questions by using some adverbs—for example, if he or she had said,
“It snowed heavily yesterday upstate,”
we would have had a better idea of the weather.
Adverbs describe a verb, adjective, or other adverb usually telling how, where, when, or why an action took place.
1) The dog barked.
The fierce (adj.)dog barked loudly (adv.).
2) The girl kicked the can.
The young(adj.) girl angrily (adv.) kicked the rusty (adj.)can.
Therefore, the only reliable way to tell the difference between adjectives and adverbs is to analyze their function in a sentence.
I went to an early (adj.) class (noun).
Mia awoke (verb) early (adv.) in the morning.
Mia awoke very (adv.) early (adv.) in the morning.
The dawn was really (adv.) beautiful (adj.).
In the first two sentences the same word early functions as both an adjective and adverb, but it describes different words – the noun class and verb awake.
Most adverbs are formed by adding the sufﬁx-ly to an adjective. For example:
In some cases, however, we must make a change in the adjective before adding -ly.
1) If an adjective ends in -ic, add -al before adding -ly.
2) If an adjective ends in -y, change the y to i and then add- ly.
easy - [easi]+ly=easily
noisy - [noisi]+ly=noisily
3) If an adjective ends in -le, do not add –l, simply change -le to -ly.
able - ably
gentle - gently
However, a word is not an adverb just because it ends in ly. To tell whether or not a particular word is an adverb, we must see how that word is used in its sentence.
Question 1: Is weekly an adverb in this sentence?
The workers receive a weekly salary.
Reason: Weekly modifies the noun salary. A word that modifies a noun is an adjective.
Question 2: Is weekly an adverb in the following sentence?
The workers are paid weekly.
Reason: Weekly modifies the verb are paid. A word that modifies a verb is an adverb.
Good/Well and Bad/Badly
For some reason, these “judgment” adjective and adverb pairs cause a lot of trouble. Here’s a quick guide on how to use them. Good and bad are adjectives so they have to describe nouns (people, places, things, or ideas). Well and badly are adverbs used to describe action.They also attach to other descriptions. In the expression a well written essay, for example, well is attached to the word written, which describes essay.
Well can be an adjective in one particular circumstance: health. When someone asks how you are, the answer (I hope) is I am well or I feel well. You can also — and I hope you do —feel good, especially when you’re talking about your mental state, though this usage is a bit more informal. In fact, if you can insert the word healthy in a particular spot, well works in the same spot also.
Check out these judgment words:
I gave a good report to the boss this morning. (The adjective good describes the noun report.)
In my opinion, the report was particularly well written. (The adverb well attaches to the verb written.)
Ann slept badly after her dangerous adventure. (The adverb badly describes the verb slept.)
When the word after the verb describes the subject and can be substituted for is, are, was, or were without changing the meaning, then the verb is linking. Linking verbs connect the subject of a sentence to a word that renames or describes it.
Ms. Morse looked (=was) very sympathetic as she listened to my troubles.
The verbs most often used as linking verbs are forms of be, become, get, seem, appear , stay, sound, and verbs associated with our five senses (look, sound, smell, feel, taste).
Use an adjective rather than an adverb after a linking verb. Therefore, use delicious rather than deliciously after the linking verb tastes.
This goulash tastes
The child felt
badly/ felt bad.
awfully/awful in that shade of orange.
When the word is intended to describe how the person responds, not how the person is or was, then use an adverb, not an adjective.
Ms. Morse looked very sympathetically at me as she listened to my troubles
In this case the verb look isn’t linking.
Some pairs of adverbs have a different meaning with and without –ly.
HARD is also an ADVERB of the adjective "hard". It means to do something with a lot of effort.
She works hard.
HARDLY is an adverb and means only just or certainly not.
The teacher spoke so quietly I could hardly (only just) hear her.
You can hardly (certainly not) expect me to do the test for you!
Hardly, in modern use, means to do something with little effort. So ARE YOU WORKING HARD OR HARDLY WORKING?
These are both adverbs of manner, but FREE means ‘without paying’ and FREELY means ‘without restriction’.
Green Forest teachers study here free (for free – without paying).
In Green Forest everyone can express herself/himself freely (there are no limitations!)