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The Writer’s Reference Book


Module 9 – Using Adjectives and Adverbs – Hint Sheet

Adjectives modify nouns and pronouns.
Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.

Adv. Adj. — The very sad clown usually made people laugh hysterically.

(See Module 2 for information about identifying adjectives and adverbs.)

Some problems with Adjectives and Adverbs

Don’t use kind of or sort of when you mean somewhat or rather: This story was rather strange (not kind of strange). She was somewhat tired (not sort of tired).

Remember that hardly and scarcely are considered negatives. Do not use them with other negatives such as not and never.

  • I can hardly do this (not can’t hardly).
  • We can scarcely hear the speaker (not can’t scarcely).

Farther means far away in distance. Further means to a greater degree.

  • I went farther down the road.
  • I will not go any further with the project.

Use less with things you can’t count, such as quantities; use fewer with things you can count.

  • Jim will give you less trouble than his brother.
  • We have fewer chickens this year than we had last year.

Later means at a more remote time; latter means the second one:

  • We’ll arrive later than you.
  • Of steak and salad, I prefer the latter.

Use logical comparisons:

  • In a comparison using -er or more, use other.
    • Bill is taller than any other boy in his class.
    • Bill is more talented than the other boys in his class.
  • Be careful with the use of more. Don’t use it if you don’t need it:
    • He left because he was tired (not more tired).
    • By trying harder, she won (not trying more harder).

Words such as only, nearly, and almost limit things, so be careful where you place them:

  • I only had three dollars. (I had nothing but the money.)
  • I had only three dollars. (I had some other things, such as a comb, but the only money I had was three dollars.)

When adjectives follow the nouns they modify, they are separated from the sentence by commas:

  • The boat’s hull, bent and rusted, lay on the beach.
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