To become a master of English, you need to be able to express yourself and describe the world around you. In order to do so, you must frequently and accurately use adverbs and adjectives in your speaking. If you don’t, you might come across as boring. However, often times, students aren’t sure when to use an appropriate adjective or adverb. Sometimes, students pay attention to out-dated rules that don’t really cover all adverbs.

Take a look below at the exact rules for when to use adjectives and adverbs.


Adjectives are describing words. They change the meaning of the noun they are attached to. They give you a better picture in your mind of what the speaker is talking about.

So, if we say: Yesterday, I saw a man. You will understand the meaning. But if we change it to: Yesterday, I saw a big, fat, hairy man. You will have a completely different picture in your mind.


Adverbs are words that change the meaning of the verb they are connected to. Adverbs answer how, when, where, why, or to what extent – how often, or how much. For example: Yesterday, I saw a man running can be changed to: Yesterday, I saw a man running very slowly.

As we see, the meaning of how the man was running now changes in our minds eye. But we have to be careful about the rules. There’s an old rule stating that you can tell an adverb by the -ly ending. And while this is definitely true for some adverbs, there are just as many that don’t.

Take a look at the following example:

The man is working hard. Here the word hard is an adverb that changes the meaning of the verb working. We now have a better idea of this man’s work ethic. 

But also, you may notice that it doesn’t follow the traditional -ly ending. The key is to always look at what is being modified or described. What about this one? What is the different in meaning?

The man is fast.     

The man ran fast.

In the first one, fast is an adjective that modifies the noun, man. In the second one, fast is an adverb that modifies the verb, ran.

Take a look at another example:

The woman looked angry to us.

The woman looked angrily to us. 

In the first example, we are describing how she actually looked as a woman, as a noun, so we use the adjective form. But if she was looking at us with an angry look in her eyes, because maybe we did something wrong, then we would use the adverb angrily as in the second example.

With the mentioned rules, you’ll be describing the world around you in no time.

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