Describing actions and processes

Sometimes we want to describe the precise quality of an action or process.

Take a look at this snippet. Mrs Fox is empathising with Mr Fox's state of mind: in what way is Mr Fox trying to think of a way out?

Mrs Fox knew that he was trying desperately to think of a way out.

Mr Fox isn't just trying to think of a way out; he is trying desperately to think of a way out.

That extra word adds an emotional dimension to the action.

Since words that convey actions and processes are called verbs, words that convey the qualities of these actions and processes are called adverbs—literally because they are words you add to verbs.

Here's the same snippet again, but with verb group and adverb labels:

Mrs Fox knew that he was trying desperately to think of a way out.

Notice how this adverb group is embedded inside the verb group?

If we weren't interested in calling out the adverb specifically, we could just highlight the whole verb group like this:

Mrs Fox knew that he was trying desperately to think of a way out.

Both approaches are valid, but since this lesson is all about adverbs, we'll call them out separately.

Let's quickly change the meaning of this sentence by changing only the adverb.

Positive manner adverbs: boldly, eagerly, bravely, deftly, gleefully, gracefully, happily, innocently, merrily, victoriously, warmly...

Negative manner adverbs: angrily, anxiously, foolishly, irritably, jealously, lazily, glumly, selfishly, rudely, cruelly, sadly...

'Depends on context' manner adverbs: accidentally, awkwardly, blindly, defiantly, crazily, doubtfully, dramatically, evenly, exactly, hastily, hungrily, sharply, sulkily, sternly, widely, unexpectedly...

Timing adverbs: always, eventually, often, rarely, sometimes, seldom, usually, finally...

Speed adverbs: quickly, slowly, promptly, rapidly...

Do you notice how most of these adverbs end with -ly? Not all adverbs have -ly endings! (And not all -ly words are adverbs.) We'll talk more about this later.

Write your own version of Mr Fox trying desperately to think of a way out, but change the adverb so the meaning of the sentence changes. Highlight the embedded adverb.