Non-Adverbs That End in -LY

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Most of us, when we think of -ly words, think of adverbs. It’s common, after all, to transform an adjective into an adverb by adding -ly:

Adjective

happy

sad

stupid

magic

amazing

vivid

sharp, etc.

Adverb

happily

sadly

stupidly

magically

amazingly

vividly

sharply, etc.

But it’s a mistake to associate -ly words with adverbs all the time. First, too many adverbs don’t end in ly:

  • well
  • very
  • often
  • tomorrow
  • never
  • soon, etc.
And, second, because lots of words end in -ly that are not (or only occasionally) used as adverbs:

100 Non-adverbs that end with -ly

Why does this matter?

I’m not sure it matters much at all, frankly, but it argues once again for teaching grammar and conventions thoroughly, rather than just shortcuts. Equating adverbs with -ly words is likely to cause confusion when students encounter adverbs that don’t end in -ly or -ly words that do not function as adverbs.

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Your comments, as always, are welcome. Leave them in the Reply section below.

 

About the Author

Brian Wasko

Brian Wasko

Brian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.

View all posts by Brian Wasko

  1. JohnnyD
    JohnnyD03-29-2016

    According to Cambridge dictionary, hourly and yearly could be both an adjective and an adverb.

  2. lauren
    lauren01-31-2016

    So do you not agree with Brian Clearly’s words are categorical series?

  3. Ellen
    Ellen10-27-2014

    Not to be overly picky, but your sentence asking for comments should say “Your comments, as always, are welcome”.

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