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Position of adverbs – Grammar chart

Position of adverbs and adverb phrases

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Initial position, mid position and final position

Adverbs and adverb phrases can be placed 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

Mid position

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. However, a few of them (sometimes, usually, and normally) can also go in initial position.

Mid position

  • I usually work on Saturdays
  • She’s hardly ever late
  • You should always knock at the door.

Initial positionsometimes, 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.

Final position

  • I don’t understand you when you speak quickly.
  • She can dance salsa marvellously.

Mid position
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 injured seriously. blank
  • The driver was seriously injured. blank

Some adverbs of manner cannot be placed in mid position: well, badly, hard, fast.

Initial position
Adverbs of manner are used in this position only in literary style.

  • Carefully, she opened the box.

Adverbs of time (=when)

Final position
We normally place adverbs of time in final position.

  • They’ll be here soon.
  • It rained a lot yesterday.

Initial position
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.

Comment adverbs

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

A little
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 a lot pizza. blank
  • I like pizza a lot. blank
  • He speaks very well English. blank
  • He speaks English very well. blank