English Grammar Review
Adjectives and Adverbs

Adverb Position

Where an adverb should be placed within a sentence depends on what it is modifying. For example, when it modifies an adjective or another adverb, it should be placed directly in front of the word it modifies.

Tbilisi is almost five kilometers away. [modifies adjective]

Davit's email was very carefully worded. [modifies adverb]

When an adverb modifies the idea in the sentence, it can lead, split, or follow the sentence.

Indeed, Maia is a smart worker.

Maia is indeed a smart worker.

Maia is a smart worker, indeed.

A comma is usually used at the beginning or ending positions. In the middle of the sentence, setting off the adverb with commas might be required for clarity or could be added for emphasis.

When an adverb modifies a one-word verb, it can also be placed almost anywhere in the sentence.

Finally, they reached a decision.

They finally reached a decision.

They reached a decision, finally.

Certain adverbs (almost, also, ever, merely, nearly, only, scarcely) should be placed as close as possible to the word modified, ideally directly in front of it. Putting it in other positions can change the meaning of the sentence.

People often have trouble with the adverb only.

Only we talked about the issue yesterday. [No one else talked about it.]

We only talked about the issue yesterday. [We talked about it, but we did not do anything else about it.]

We talked only about the issue yesterday. [We did not talk about anything else, just that issue.]

We talked about the issue only yesterday. [We talked about it recently, just yesterday.]

We talked about the issue yesterday only. [We did not talk about it on any other day.]

Play it safe: try to put the word only directly in front of the thing you are talking about limiting.

When an adverb modifies a verb phrase, it is usually best to place it after the first word in that verb phrase.

statement, with verb phrase describing action:

My work has been interrupted.

modified with adverb:

Rarely, my work has been interrupted. [awkward]

My work rarely has been interrupted. [awkward]

My work has rarely been interrupted. [action clearly modified]

My work has been rarely interrupted. [awkward]

My work has been interrupted rarely. [awkward]

Lesson: Adverb Position
Module: Adjectives and Adverbs
Course: English Grammar Review