I have a dear friend who, by his own admission, never met an adverb he liked! You can easily see what I mean by noting some of the statements he makes:
“All of you need to respond to this serious.”
“Don’t take this personal.”
Some of you may wonder what’s wrong in these sentences. What’s wrong is that “serious” and “personal” are both adjectives, not adverbs. Adverbs are words that qualify or add something to the meaning of verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. In our two examples, “serious” modifies the verb “respond” and “personal” modifies the verb “take.” But “serious” and “personal” are adjectives which, among other things, answer the question, what kind? So, what kind of man is he? He is a “serious” man. What kind of a matter is this? It is a “personal” matter. In these two instances both “serious” and “personal” are adjectives and modify nouns (“man” in the first sentence and “matter” in the second).
Thus, my friend should have said:
“All of you need to respond to this seriously.”
“Don’t take this personally.”
“Seriously” tells us how you need to respond, just as “personally” tells you how not to take this.
Another illustration of the proper use of the adverb is in the statement: “The sophomore turned in her assignment quickly. The professor told her she had done very well.” Thus adverbs tell you how, where, in what manner, or when an action is performed.
Often times an adverb can be identified by the “ly” suffix. There is a large billboard along I-35 here in Oklahoma City that promotes a particular soft drink. It reads:
They may have made a deliberate grammatical error in order to draw your attention to the ad. In any case, it should read, “Drink slowly.”
My friend Dean Bertsch, who assists me with these posts, told me of his experience while driving on Rt. 15 in Pennsylvania. He saw a sign that read:
“Drive Safe on Rt. 15.”
No, please don’t. I’d rather you drove “safely.”
If this edition of Grammatical Gripes is too much for you, I suggest you read it slowly (not “slow” as in the title above!) and carefully and not quickly. Patiently reflect on what was said. Then boldly suggest to those who abuse the adverb that they need to reform their ways!
This isn’t all that can be said about adverbs, but it is a good start.
(with assistance from Dean Bertsch)