Adjectives Modify Nouns & Adverbs Modify Verbs
ACT English often tests your ability to distinguish between adjectives and adverbs. For example, you might see a sentence that says “What I love the most about my favorite restaurant its fast, politely service.” Can you see the mistake? Service is a noun, but politely is an adverb, so you’ll want to look for an answer choice that changes politely to polite. A similar ACT English sentence might say something like “The staff at the restaurant serve me very polite.” In that case, you need to change the adjective polite to adverb politely, so it can correctly describe the verb serve.
An Ending of “ly” Usually Means that the Word Form is an Adverbs… But Not Always!
This is a small rule that can trip you up if you scan a passage a little too quickly. Yes, many words with “ly” at the end are adverbs, including quickly from the previous sentence, but there are also some common “ly” words that are not adverbs. Scholarly is an adjective. Monopoly is a noun. Multiply is a verb.
There are other exceptions too. If you take a careful look at any of these in the text, you can immediately know their grammatical function. Scan carefully so that you don’t make any mistakes as you answer the questions.
The Verb and Noun Forms of a Word are Usually Different
Some words don’t change when they become a verb or noun. You can take a test, or you can test someone’s knowledge. More often the word form does change when the grammar function switches between noun and verb. Compute (verb) becomes computation (noun), assess (verb) becomes assessment (noun), and so on.
Words in written English often contain small but very important differences. If you miss these differences on the ACT, it will hurt your score. For a top score, teach yourself to notice these differences and recognize correct word forms quickly.
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About David Recine
David is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. He’s our resident Magoosher-Of-All-Trades, helping both our students and our team maximize their use of our online test prep products. David has taught at the K-12, university, and adult education levels for the past 16 years, helping students from every continent master their verbal, math, science, and English language skills. As one of Magoosh’s TOEFL and GMAT experts, he’s helped students prepare for standardized tests with confidence, from sharing new changes made to the TOEFL exam to explaining how to navigate the GMAT’s math section. David received his B.S. in Social Work and M.A. in TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Foreign Languages) from the University of Wisconsin, where his Master’s thesis was cited in a number of peer-reviewed educational psychology journals. David has presented on teaching methodology at a number of academic conferences, including for the Association of International Educators (NAFSA). When he’s not teaching or writing, David enjoys drawing comics and frantically trying to enjoy the great outdoors with his son during the four months Wisconsin doesn't have any snow. LinkedIn
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