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Adjectives and Adverbs: Correct Forms

No one rule of thumb serves for the form of adjectives and adverbs. A dictionary will supply any information about adjective and adverb forms that the summary here does not cover.

Adverb - Adjective + -ly

Many adverbs are formed by adding -ly to an adjective. Sometimes when -ly is added, a spelling change occurs.

Adjective Adverb
soft softly
quiet quietly
intelligent intelligently
easy easily (note the spelling)
terrible terribly (note the spelling)

Adjectives Ending in -ic

To form an adverb from an adjective ending in -ic, add -ally (basic, basically; artistic, artistically), with the exception of public, whose adverb form is publicly.

Adjectives Ending in -ly

Some adjectives, such as friendly, lovely, timely, and masterly, already end in -ly and have no distinct adverb form. Use the adjective within an adverbial phrase: "It was done in a ____ way."
  Examples She is a friendly person.
[adjective = friendly]

She spoke to me in a friendly way.
[adverbial phrase = in a friendly way]

Irregular Adverb Forms

Some adjectives do not add -ly to form an adverb.

Adjective Adverb
good well
fast fast
hard hard
  Examples He is a good cook.
[adjective = good]

He cooks well.
[adverb = well]

She is a hard worker.
[adjective = hard]

She works hard.
[adverb = hard]
Use of hardly

Hardly is not the adverb form of hard. Rather, it means "barely," "scarcely," or "almost not at all": I could hardly breathe in that stuffy room.

Use of well

Well can also function as an adjective, meaning "healthy" or "satisfactory."
  Examples A well baby smiles often.
[adjective = well]

She feels well today.
[adjective = well]
See also
Proper Use
After Linking Verbs
Compound Adjectives
Positioning of Adverbs
Order of Adjectives
Double Negatives
Comparative and Superlative Forms
Faulty or Incomplete Comparisons