Business English Lesson – English Grammar – Use of Adjectives and Adverbs

For this short Business English Grammar lesson we will look at how to properly use adjectives and adverbs. I am sure everyone knows that adjectives are used with nouns and that adverbs are used with verbs and sometimes with adjectives and other adverbs.

One of the reasons I want to give you this lesson is that many times I have heard non-native English speakers us an adverb to describe a noun and an adjective to describe a verb. The uses of the two types of words has been reversed. Therefore, we will quickly review adjectives and adverbs.

Adjectives are used to describe nouns and come before the noun and are located close to the noun. Adjectives go before the noun unless you are using the adjective with the verb “to be”. For example: “The dog is brown” as opposed to “the brown dog”. If you are using more than one adjective to describe the noun there is an order in which they should be use: general opinion, specific opinion, size, shape, age, colour, nationality, and material.

Adverbs are used to describe verbs, some other adverbs, and in some cases adjectives. Adverbs are usually formed by adding “ly” to an adjective, but there are exceptions, which I will not go into in this short lesson. Adverbs are best used in front of the verb or just after. They should be very close to the word they are modifying or describing. If you use them at the end of the sentence they have a jarring effect on the flow of your writing or speaking (can be done for special emphasis). As examples of adverb placement in a sentence: “Please walk slowly”, or “The car slowly drove down the street”.

The question to ask yourself when you want to use and adjective or an adjective to describe or modify a noun or a verb is “Are you trying to modify or describe a noun, or a verb?” The answer to this question should allow you to choose appropriately between the adverb or the adjective form of the word. Another question to ask yourself is “Should the word have an ‘-ly’ at the end or not?”. An adverb will usually be an adjective with an ‘-ly’ added. Usually, but not all the time.

That was a quick look at the use of adjectives and adverbs so remember the key is that adjectives are used to describe nouns and adverbs are used for verbs (sometimes adjectives and some adverbs). 

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