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Adverbs Can Modify Adjectives and Other Adverbs

Although the term adverb implies that they are only used with verbs, adverbs can also modify adjectives and other adverbs. For example:

The horridly grotesque gargoyle was undamaged by the debris.

(The adverb horridly modifies the adjective grotesque .)

Peter had an extremely ashen face.

(The adverb extremely modifies the adjective ashen.)

Badly trained dogs that fail the test will become pets.

(The adverb badly modifies the adjective trained.)
(Note: The adjective trained is an adjective formed from the verb to train. It is called a participle.)

She wore a beautifully designed dress.

(The adverb beautifully modifies the adjective designed.)

Peter Jackson finished his assignment remarkably quickly.

(The adverb quickly modifies the verb to finish. The adverb remarkably modifies the adverb quickly.)


When an adverb modifies an adjective, there is no need to join the two with a hyphen. For example:

Thomas was a highly respected member of the team.

(There is no need to join the adverb highly to the adjective respected with a hyphen.)

She passed him the most crimson apple in the basket.

(There is no need to join the adverb most to the adjective crimson with a hyphen. Incidentally, most is an adverb of degree.)

Dawn was an exceptionally-talented teenager.

(There is no need to join the adverb exceptionally to the adjective talented with a hyphen.)

should be "neatly arranged"
(newspaper article)


With words like well and fast (which are both adjectives and adverbs), a hyphen can be used to avoid ambiguity. For example:

We will be visited by a well-known actress.

(In this example, a hyphen is added to differentiate between well-known (i.e., a widely known actress) and well andknown (i.e., healthy and recognized actress). As unlikely as the latter may be, it is grammatically feasible. The hyphen eliminates all ambiguity.)

He tried to sell me 200 fast-growing chickens.

(A hyphen is added to differentiate between fast-growing (i.e., chickens which grow quickly) and fast and growing (i.e., chickens which are good runners and still growing). As unlikely as the latter may be, the hyphen eliminates all ambiguity.)

Read also about hyphens in compound adjectives.


This simple rule will cover most situations:

When preceding an adjective with an adverb, only use a hyphen with well.

well-known play

(hyphen with well)

widely known play

(no hyphen with any other adverb)

Date: 2015-12-11; view: 800

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