What’s the difference?

After years of teaching, I keep seeing this mistake over and over again. So what’s the difference between adjectives and adverbs?

Well first of all, we need to define what an adjective and an adverb are.

  • Adjectives: This one is easy. Adjectives modify nouns. Ex. The car is slow (slow modifies car).
  • Adverbs: This one is a bit trickier. Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. Adverbs answer the questions: how, when, where, why or to what extent. He speaks slowly (How does he speak? slowly). She arrived yesterday (When did she arrive? yesterday)

Many adverbs are simply an adjective with -ly added at the end. Ex. slow => slowly; angry => angrily; careful => carefully. Be careful though, you can’t add -ly at the end of every adjective. Ex. fast => fastly

The difference between well and good

Many people often get confused between these two words. Well is an adverb and good is an adjective. Ex. He plays the guitar well (How does he play? well). He is a good player (good modifies player).

Note: Sometimes well is used as an adjective. Particularly, in reference to health. Ex. You look well (healthy). Compare it to this sentence which has a different meaning – You look good (attractive).

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