Posted by: Idioma Extra | February 17, 2011

Thursday Tidbits

Changes in meaning between adverbs and adjectives

In English, most adjectives that can change to adverbs maintain the same meaning, for example:

He is a slow reader.         >             He reads slowly.

It was a bad burn.           >             He badly burned his hand.

However, there are some adjective that have a different meaning when changed to adverbs. Here are some examples:

Hard / hardly

As an adjective, hard means “difficult or not soft.” As an adverb, hardly means “barely or almost not.”

Examples: (As an adjective) It is hard for me to understand him.

(As an adverb) I can hardly understand him.

Late / lately

As an adjective, late means “not on time.” As an adverb, lately means “recently”

Examples: (As an adjective) He is always late for class.

(As an adverb) He hasn’t been to class lately.

Present / presently

As an adjective, present means “to be in attendance.” As an adverb, presently means “currently or right now.”

Examples: (As an adjective) You have to be present to receive the award.

(As an adverb) He is presently receiving the award.

Rare / rarely

As an adjective, rare means “not common or strange.” As an adverb, rarely means “not often.”

Examples: (As an adjective) It is difficult to see rare birds.

(As an adverb) He rarely sees exotic birds.

Like / likely

As an adjective, like means “to prefer something.” As an adverb, likely means “probable.”

Examples: (As an adjective) I like the rain.

(As an adverb) It will likely rain.

Check Yourself

Choose the correct word to finish the sentence. In some cases, both might be possible.

1. The sun shines very (rare / rarely) in the wintertime.

2. I believe all the students are (present / presently).

3. I had a (hard / hardly) time finding your house.

4. My boss said it is (like / likely) that there will be cutbacks.

5. He hasn’t been coming to class (late / lately).

6. The doctors say he has a (rarely / rare) disease.

7. I am (likely / like) my mother in many ways.

8. All of the voters are (presently / present) at the meeting.

9. He said he will arrive (late / lately) to the party.

10. I (hard / hardly) have any time to do anything fun.


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