Adverbs of manner tell us how something happens. They are usually placed after the main verb or after the object.
- He swims well, (after the main verb)
- He ran... rapidly, slowly, quickly..
- She spoke... softly, loudly, aggressively..
- James coughed loudly to attract her attention.
- He plays the flute beautifully. (after the object)
- He ate the chocolate cake greedily.
BE CAREFUL! The adverb should not be put between the verb and the object:
- He ate greedily the chocolate cake [incorrect]
- He ate the chocolate cake greedily [correct]
If there is a preposition before the object, e.g. at, towards, we can place the adverb either before the preposition or after the object.
- The child ran happily towards his mother.
- The child ran towards his mother happily.
Sometimes an adverb of manner is placed before a verb + object to add emphasis:
- He gently woke the sleeping woman.
Some writers put an adverb of manner at the beginning of the sentence to catch our attention and make us curious:
- Slowly she picked up the knife.
(We want to know what happened slowly, who did it slowly, why they did it slowly)
However, adverbs should always come AFTER intransitive verbs (=verbs which have no object).
- The town grew quickly
- He waited patiently
Also, these common adverbs are almost always placed AFTER the verb:
The position of the adverb is important when there is more than one verb in a sentence. If the adverb is placed after a clause, then it modifies the whole action described by the clause.
Notice the difference in meaning between the following pairs of sentences:
- She quickly agreed to re-type the letter (= her agreement was quick)
- She agreed to re-type the letter quickly (= the re-typing was quick)
- He quietly asked me to leave the house (= his request was quiet)
- He asked me to leave the house quietly (= the leaving was quiet)