Position of Adverbs – Detailed Rules

October 11, 2010pdf

Different kinds of adverbs go in different positions in a sentence. Here are
some general rules.

Adverbs cannot go between a verb and its object.

  • He speaks English well. (NOT He speaks well English.)
  • I often visit my parents. (NOT I visit often my parents.)

An adverb particle (e.g. up, down, off, on etc.) can go between a verb and
its object.

  • She switched off the light. OR She switched the light off.

An adverb can go in three positions:

1. At the beginning of a clause
2. With  the verb (mid-position)
3. At the end of the a clause

Many adverbs can go in all three positions. Some adverbs can go in mid- and
end positions. Longer adverb phrases do not usually go in mid-position.

Adverbs that can go at the beginning of a clause

Adverbs which join a clause to what came before usually go at the beginning.
Examples are: however, then, next, besides, anyway etc.

  • Some of us wanted to go on a picnic; however, John did not like the idea.
  • He finished his work. Then he went home.

Mid-position is also possible in a formal style.

  • He then went home.
  • He, however, didn’t like the idea.

The adverbs usually, normally, often, frequently, sometimes and occasionally can go at the beginning or end of a clause.

  • Sometimes I think I should find a better job.
  • Often I get headaches.

Adverbs of place can also go at the beginning of a clause, especially in
literary writing.

  • At the end of the street there was a toy store.
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