Using Adjectives ending in ly

As English users, you must have come across words like cowardly, deadly, friendly, ghostly, gentlemanly and orderly. Which part of speech do these six words belong to? Are they adjectives or adverbs? Some English users may say they are adverbs as they end in "ly" and look like most adverbs which end in "ly" such as slowly, quickly, politely, loudly, etc.

These six words are adjectives NOT adverbs though they end in "ly". They are used to describe nouns or things. Read these example sentences and find out why they are adjectives.

Example sentence showing the usage of cowardly
Henry kept saying that the old vacant house wasn't haunted, but he became cowardly when his friends challenged him to spend a night in it.
Note that cowardly describes Henry. Just replace cowardly with frightened or afraid and you will understand why cowardly is an adjective.

It is incorrect to use cowardly like this:
The soldiers fought cowardly. Why is it incorrect? Some English users think it sounds correct, but it is incorrect as cowardly is an adjective not an adverb, and it has no adverb form. Therefore, it can never be used to describe the verb "fought". However, it can be used in a phrase to describe the verb "fought" like this: The soldiers fought in a cowardly manner and retreated within minutes.
We can say somebody is cowardly, but we can't say somebody behaves cowardly! We can say somebody behaves in a cowardly manner or in a cowardly way.

Example sentence showing the usage of deadly
The AK47 is a deadly weapon. Replace deadly with a common adjective such as dangerous and you will understand.

Example sentence showing the usage of friendly

My neighbors are friendly people.
From this sentence you can see that friendly describes the noun "people". Therefore, it is an adjective not an adverb. Replace friendly with adjectives like kind or generous and you will understand why friendly is an adjective.
Now read this sentence.
Mr Peterson's secretary talks to the visitors friendily. Is it correct to use friendily? No, there is no such word as friendily! To describe the verb "talks", friendly has to be used in a phrase such as "in a friendly manner". The correct version is: Mr Peterson's secretary talks to the visitors in a friendly manner.

Example sentence showing the usage of ghostly
The hunters discovered an old hut that looked rather ghostly.
"ghostly" describes the old hut, so it's an adjective not an adverb.

Example sentence showing the usage of gentlemanly
Mr Smith is very gentlemanly when he is talking to his lady colleagues.
Replace gentlemanly with polite and you will understand.

Example sentences showing the usage of orderly
This is an orderly room. (It means This is a tidy room.)
It was an orderly meeting. (It means It was a well-arranged meeting.)

Remember that the above six words are adjectives not adverbs. Do use them correctly in your English sentences.

Two other adjectives that also end in ly are:

lovely: Sharon looks lovely in her new evening gown.

elderly: The elderly
man you talked to last night is my grandfather.

By Susan L
On 1/03/2010 11:21:00 PM
1 Comment(s)
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Monday, February 01, 2010 1:24:00 AM

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