Common Errors with Adverbs

Error 1

(Incorrect): She is very much beautiful.
(Correct): She is very beautiful.

(Incorrect): I am very much sorry.
(Correct): I am very sorry.

The expressions very much and very many are uncommon in affirmative sentences, but they are possible in questions and negatives.

Error 2

(Incorrect): He was very foolish enough to trust her.
(Correct): He was so foolish to trust her.
(Correct): He was foolish enough to trust her.
Enough cannot be modified by very.

Error 3

(Incorrect): I managed to do it anyhow.
(Correct): I managed to do it somehow.

Anyhow means ‘in disorder’. Somehow means ‘by some means’. ‘Anyhow’ can also mean ‘for certain’. E.g., He may not win but anyhow I shall.

Error 4

(Incorrect): To tell in brief.
(Correct): In short

Error 5

(Incorrect): He told the story in details.
(Correct): He told the story in detail.

Error 6

(Incorrect): Before long there was no one there.
(Correct): Long ago there was no one there.

We use ago ‘to count from now’. We use before ‘to count from a past moment’. ‘Before long’ means ‘soon’.

Error 7

(Incorrect): This story is too interesting.
(Correct): This story is very interesting.

(Incorrect): She is too beautiful.
(Correct): She is very beautiful.

Too means ‘more than it ought to be’. It has a negative meaning. E.g., He is too fat.

Error 8

(Incorrect): They behaved cowardly.
(Correct): They behaved in a cowardly manner.

Some words ending in –ly are adjectives, and not normally adverbs. Cowardly is one among them. Other common examples are costly, deadly, friendly, likely, lively, miserly, lovely, lonely, silly etc. There are no adverbs like cowardlily or costlily.

To modify the verb behave we have to use an adverb, not an adjective. Since there is no adverb for this meaning, we use the adverb phrase ‘in a cowardly manner’.

(Incorrect): He lives miserly.
(Correct): He lives in a miserly way.

Miserly is an adjective. To modify the verb lives, we use the adverb phrase ‘in a miserly way’.

Error 9

(Incorrect): He sings good.
(Correct): He sings well.

To modify the verb sings, we have to use an adverb. Good is an adjective. The adverb for this meaning is well.

Error 10

(Incorrect): My sister is tall than me.
(Correct): My sister is taller than me.

We use comparative adjectives and adverbs before than.

Error 11

(Incorrect): Never I have seen such a mess.
(Correct): Never have I seen such a mess.

If a negative word is put at the beginning of a sentence, it is usually followed by auxiliary verb + subject. Note that these structures are rather formal and uncommon. The sentence ‘I have never seen such a mess’ is also correct and more common.

(Incorrect): Hardly I have had any rest for one week.
(Correct): Hardly have I had any rest for one week. OR I have hardly had any rest for one week.

Error 12

(Incorrect): Really speaking she isn’t very brilliant.
(Correct): To speak the truth she isn’t very brilliant.

Other phrases that can be used instead of ‘to speak the truth’ are: ‘as a matter of fact’, ‘in truth’ and ‘in fact’.

In fact she isn’t very brilliant.
As a matter of fact she isn’t very brilliant.

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