Adverb groups

Types of meaning

Describing manner

Let's return to familiar ground.

One way we can describe action is by describing in what way it happened. In what way was Roald Dahl's mother handling the tiller of their boat?

We would cling to the sides of our funny little white motor-boat, driving through mountainous white-capped waves and getting drenched to the skin, while my mother calmly handled the tiller.

BoyRoald DahlSource

His mother was handling it calmly.

'Calmly' is what we call an adverb of manner—it describes the manner in which an action happened.

Roald Dahl uses it here to set up a contrast—he describes a wild scene, followed by a simple description of his mother's behaviour.

Advanced: Adverbs are compressed

Let's write a variation using the idea of contrast.

In this exercise, we're going to keep the adverb 'calmly' and change everything else. Describe a scene that is the opposite of calm, and then have one character doing something calmly in the middle of it.

Here's an example.

We clung to the sides of the basket as our hot air balloon scraped across the side of the cliff, knocking snow and bits of rock down onto our heads, while Edgar Fortescue calmly adjusted the burner.

The workshop erupted into chaos as the elves began to brawl with one another, with punches thrown, faces smashed, elbows into eye sockets, hats in the air, toys knocked down and teeth knocked out. Meanwhile, Santa calmly lit his pipe and puffed.

Your turn

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