Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Grammar: Teaching Adverbs

I love to tell a good story.  Sometimes a good story needs a bit of embellishment to make it even better.  Descriptive words that give us visual pictures of nouns are adjectives.  Sometimes the adjectives need even a little more help to make the story even better so we call in the adverbs.  Adverbs can add more description to adjectives, verbs and other adverbs.  Adverbs tell us how, when or where something happened.

Recently, we were learning about adverbs in our grammar text.  It's very easy to just tell the kids adverbs are the "-ly" words and words like "very."  That's what I thought about adverbs when I was growing up.  I learned about adverbs by watching School House Rock.  Remember Lolly?  Actually School House Rock taught me most of what I remember about grammar, the Preamble, a bill, etc.  This video may bring back Saturday morning memories for many.

To help us learn more beyond the School House Rock video, I checked out a couple books on adverbs at our local library.  I can honestly say, we may have been the first to check these books out.  Apparently, there's not a big interest in adverbs.  When I opened the books they actually creaked as if they had just been shipped from the bindery.

As mentioned earlier, an adverb is a word that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.  They tell us when, how or where something happened.  Some examples are:

Our son enthusiastically arrived at the baseball park.  How did he arrive?  enthusiastically

Recently, he broke his collarbone.  When?  Recently

He broke his arm there.  Where?  There

"Where" adverbs include: here, there, everywhere, anywhere, nowhere, far, nearby, away, outside, inside, out, in, up, down.

There are also the comparative adverbs.  The key to many of these is -er or more.  Some examples are fast- faster, slow- slower, quickly- more quickly.

Beyond the comparative adverbs are the SUPER adverbs, actually they're called superlative adverbs.  They are the most super! I may actually be breaking some grammar rule.  I know they're not the super-est.  They compare three or more things.  With these we often see -est or most . Some examples of superlative adverbs are:

That watermelon was sweetest treat at the picnic

Mariah was the most athletic competitor at the games.

Other examples of comparative and superlative comparing words that do not fit the regular -er or -est rules are well, better, best and badly, worse, worst.

Lastly, there are the very misused, misunderstood adverbs well and badly.  All too often we hear the adjectives good and bad used incorrectly.  It can get very confusing at times.  Remember adverbs answer "How."  Only an adverb can modify a verb, so if the adverb is describing how the "action" was done, use the right adverb.  For example, Jane sings well.  How does Jane sing?  We're looking to describe the verb sing, so use well, not good.

If you're describing the noun of the sentence use the adjectives good and bad.  Example: His arm looked bad.  When using linking verbs that deal with the senses: seem, taste, appear, look, feel, sound, and act use the adjective.  In addition, when following regular linking verbs: is, am, are, was, and were use adjectives.

Most of  this information was found in the book, The Magic of Adverbs by Ann Heinrichs.  I hope this is helpful and not confusing.  It's a little more than School House Rock, and hopefully we've all gained a little more information about adverbs.  There's still a lot more to learn.

I'm truly hoping our kids will read this blog post and let me know they now completely understand adverbs.

I'll be waiting for their response.

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