Whenever I make a new discovery about writing, my first impulse is to share it with every single person in sight. My second impulse is to worry that everyone except me has known about this particular thing for years. So if you already know everything there is to know about adverbs, I both salute you and excuse you from reading the remainder of this post.
First, the basics (which you probably already know). The definition of an adverb is:
a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word group, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree, etc. (e.g., gently, quite, then, there ).
Adverbs are generally despised in journalism school (see what I did there?) But I recently received a piece of writing advice that completely changed my opinion on them. Here it is:
Adverbs should not just augment or change a verb (i.e. he runs quickly.) Rather, an adverb should create friction with a verb to alter its meaning.
Some examples of well-used adverbs:
“This is his blissfully miserable life.” — Don Winslow, The Gentleman’s Hour
“The weather was horribly good.” — Elizabeth McCracken, An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination
“His hair is cut short, his shirt ambitiously undone.” — Colum McCann, Zoli
“The two arcs of his upper lip remained desperately at rest.” - Rumi, The Fire of Love
Thank you to Susan Musgrave for this information and these examples -- she's my brilliant poetry professor at UBC.
There you have it: a recipe for adverb success. What grammatical discoveries have you made lately?