Defining and Teaching Adverbs of Manner in Your ESL Classroom

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Manner Adverbs

When planning ESL lesson plans, adverbs of manner are one area of the English language that must not be ignored. Having your students use bodily motions in your adverb ESL lesson plan is a great way for them to remember what adverbs of manner do. Begin by explaining two important things about these adverbs:

  1. Adverbs of manner modify verbs, i.e., they tell how an activity is done or the manner of an action. Adverbs of manner also modify adjectives, other adverbs, and whole sentences. Tell your students that they need simply to ask the question “how” in order to recognize an adverb of manner.
  2. The suffix “-ly” on most adverbs is added to the end of an adjective. However, not all adverbs of manner (well, fast) have an “ly” suffix.

Show the Difference

You may use other adverbs to show the difference. For example, present a sentence like The classroom is extremely crowded. Write the sentence on the board. Tell the students that in this sentence there is one adverb (extremely) but that it is not an adverb of manner because is does not answer the question “how.” Point out the adverbs. Let the students try asking the question “how” to see for themselves that there is no answer to show an adverb of manner. Instead, if they ask the question, “To what degree is the classroom crowded,” they would get the answer “extremely.” Tell the students that it is an adverb of degree or extent in answer to the question “To what extent.”

More Adverbs

For the first exercise, give some examples of adverbs of manner, and then have the students act out these examples. Now tell them to keep these two examples in mind and observe carefully the difference with adverbs by providing and acting out examples of their own. At this point you need to point out three important things:

  1. Although most adverbs, particularly adverbs of manner end in “ly”, some of them do not; many are the same as the adjective form, and you do not need to add the suffix “ly” to the end of the adjective.
  2. Some adverbs of manner which do not end in “ly” are as follows: well, fast, hard, little, much, and straight. Except for well, the adjective of which is good; these adverbs have the same form as their corresponding adjectives.
  3. There are many words which are not adverbs that end in “ly”. They are adjectives and have no corresponding adverbs. Examples include friendly, lonely, and elderly.


Here are some examples to use as in-class exercises. Point to the sentence you write on the board and address the students in turn. Have the students identify the adverb of manner.

  • John, please read this sentence loudly so everyone can hear.
  • Anne, please read this sentence softly so all of us will not be able to hear you.

For exercises emphasizing the difference between adjectives and adverbs, use the following dialogues:

  • That’s good. Now, who likes to sing? Yes, Juana has a happy song for us in Spanish. Sing it happily, not sadly.
  • After Juana has sung, ask the boys who would like to sing. Yes Peter, can you sing a sad song for us, and sing it sadly.

Point out to the students how you added the suffix “ly” to the adjective happy and to the adjective “sad.”

Finally, give students some adverbs of manner to act out. Some good examples include:

  • slowly
  • angrily
  • carefully
  • politely
  • hard
  • high

How Will This Lesson Help?

Teaching adverbs of manner in your ESL classroom will help your fifth graders understand adverbs of manner tremendously.