Evaluative Adverbs  

What is an evaluative adverb?

Most adverbs describe how or when an action occurs. Evaluative adverbs, which are also referred to as commenting adverbs, are different. Instead of giving us information about the action itself, evaluative adverbs are used by the speaker to comment or give an opinion on something. Evaluative adverbs modify the entire clause.

Types of Evaluative Adverbs

There are several types of evaluative adverbs, which can be classified according to their function. Some give information about how certain we consider something to be, others express our attitude (negative or positive) about something, while others are used to pass judgment on someone’s actions. Some of the most common evaluative adverbs for each function are listed in the table below:
Degree of Certainty
Attitude
Judgment
apparently
astonishingly
bravely
clearly
frankly
carelessly
definitely
fortunately
fairly
doubtfully
honestly
foolishly
doubtlessly
hopefully
generously
obviously
interestingly
kindly
presumably
luckily
rightly
probably
sadly
spitefully
undoubtedly
seriously
stupidly
surprisingly
unfairly
unbelievably
wisely
wrongly

To indicate a degree of certainty

We can use the evaluative adverbs listed in the first column of the table to state how certain we are about something. For example:
  • Clearly, we're going to have to work harder.” (I am sure that we are going to have to work harder.)
  • Apparently, we’re going to have to work harder.” (There is some indication that we may have to work harder.)

To indicate attitude

We can use the evaluative adverbs in the second column of the table to make our attitude about something clear. For example:
  • Astonishingly, she did well on the test.” (I feel surprised that she did well on the test.)
  • Sadly, he couldn’t come to the party.” (It is unfortunate that he couldn’t come to the party.)
  • Honestly, I couldn’t eat another bite.” (The truth is that I couldn’t eat another bite.)

To indicate judgment

We can use the evaluative adverbs in the third column to make judgments about someone’s actions, including our own. For example:
  • “I stupidly forgot my phone at home.” (I forgot my phone at home, and I think that was stupid of me.)
  • “You carelessly dropped my favorite cup.” (You dropped my cup, and I think it’s because you were not being careful.)
  • “She bravely traveled across Asia alone.” (She traveled across Asia alone, and, in my opinion, that was brave.)

Sentence Placement

The evaluative adverb is usually placed at the beginning of the sentence, followed by a comma. For example:
  • Clearly, he didn’t mean to ignore you.”
  • Apparently, she has real talent.”
  • Interestingly, he is very good at chess.”
However, they can also appear at the end of the sentence, preceded by a comma, as in:
  • “He didn’t mean to ignore you, clearly.”
  • “She has real talent, apparently.”
  • “He is really good at chess, interestingly.”
Some evaluative adverbs can also appear in the mid position, in which case we usually do not set them apart with commas. In particular, probably and definitely are most likely to occur in this position, appearing after the subject or after the verb be. For example:
  • “He probably didn’t mean to ignore you.”
  • “She definitely works hard.”
  • “He is probably really good at chess.”
  • “They are definitely the best of friends.”
When we use an evaluative adverb to make a judgment of an action, we usually put the adverb after the subject. For example:
  • She bravely told the truth.”
  • He generously offered the lady a ride home.”
  • You carelessly dropped my favorite cup.”
However, if we want to place a strong emphasis on the judgment, we can also place it at the beginning of the sentence, set apart by a comma. For example:
  • Bravely, she told the truth.”
  • Generously, he offered the lady a ride home.”
  • Carelessly, you dropped my favorite cup.
Placing this type of evaluative adverb at the end of the sentence is less common, but still acceptable. For example:
  • “She told the truth, bravely.”
  • “He offered the lady a ride home, generously.”
  • “You dropped my favorite cup, carelessly.”
Quiz

1. Evaluative adverbs are used to give the ________.






2. Which evaluative adverb does not indicate degree of certainty?





3. Which adverb does not indicate a judgment of someone’s actions?





4. Which adverb does not indicate attitude?





5. Which of the following sentences is incorrect?





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