Position of adverbs – Grammar chart
Initial position, mid position and final position
We can put adverbs and adverb phrases in three positions: initial position, mid position, or final position.
Initial position: at the beginning of the sentence.
- Sometimes I feel a bit lost.
- Yesterday I went to the library.
Final position: at the end of the sentence.
- She arrived very late.
- We have to move quickly.
This is the position where most adverbs are placed. It is before the main verb.
- I often call him to know how he is.
- They don’t always answer the phone.
After the verb be (when it is the main verb).
- They are often late.
After the auxiliary verb or the first auxiliary verb (when there are two or more auxiliary verbs)
- You must never do that again.
- I have often been tempted to tell her I love her.
Types of adverbs and their position
Adverbs of frequency (=how often)
Adverbs of frequency usually go in mid position, although a few of them (sometimes, usually and normally) can also go in initial position.
- I usually work on Saturdays
- She’s hardly ever late
- You should always knock at the door.
Initial position: sometimes, usually, normally
- Sometimes he can be very stubborn.
Adverbs of manner (=how)
Adverbs of manner can be used in any of the three positions; however, their most common position is the final position.
- I don’t understand you when you speak quickly.
- She can dance salsa marvellously.
Adverbs of manner are used in this position mainly in literary style, although they normally go in this position with passive verb forms.
- He carefully took the flower and put it in the jar. (=literary)
- The driver was seriously injured. (NOT:
was injured seriously)
Some adverbs of manner cannot be placed in mid position: well, badly, hard, fast.
Adverbs of manner are used in this position only in literary style.
- Carefully, she opened the box.
Adverbs of time (=when)
We normally place adverbs of time in final position.
- They’ll be here soon.
- It rained a lot yesterday.
We can also use adverbs of time in initial position. We place them in this position for emphasis or to structure a text (as connecting devices).
- Two days after their wedding, they slip up.
- Last week, she arrived late every day.
Viewpoint or comment adverbs, e.g. obviously, luckily, unfortunately, honestly, etc., are normally placed in initial position.
- Unfortunately, we arrived half an hour late.
- Ideally, we should leave at 10.00.
Adverbs of degree (=how much)
Almost, hardly, nearly, quite, rather, scarcely, etc.
Most degree adverbs usually go in mid position.
- We were nearly hit by a car in the street.
- I would rather stay here if you don’t mind.
Very, extremely, incredibly, absolutely, etc.
They are placed before the adjective or adverb they modify.
- We’re incredibly tired.
- It’s absolutely impossible to do it right.
Much, a lot, a bit
They are normally used after the verb they complement.
- Britons drink a lot.
- He doesn’t talk much.
It’s normally placed before the adjective or adverb they modify.
- I’m a little tired.
Manner, place and time
When we have to use different adverbs in final position, their order is usually manner, place and time.
- They met by chance in England in 1999.
Note that when there is a verb of movement, the order is place, manner and time.
- He goes to school by car every day.
Verb and object
Verbs and objects can never be separated. We cannot place any adverbs between them.
- I like pizza a lot. (NOT
I like a lot pizza)
- He speaks English very well. (NOT
He speaks very well English)