To put my Friday Twitter vocabulary blasts to more use, here’s a list of adverbs that can build atmosphere in descriptive English. As adverbs describe verbs, adjectives or other adverbs, these atmospheric words can add depth to your descriptions and events. The adverbs are listed with alternatives for descriptions (which you may want to learn too!) and example sentences. Below is a reading exercise to test your understanding.
- Eerily – strangely – It was eerily quiet in the basement.
- Suitably – properly/correctly – The room was suitably lit for a good photoshoot.
- Inappropriately – not suitably – It was inappropriately smelly in her bedroom.
- Unfathomably – unbelievably – The room had an unfathomably high ceiling.
- Distractingly – causes distraction – He had a distractingly large collection of stuffed animals.
- Gruesomely – horribly – There was a gruesomely decayed body on the floor.
- Majestically – beautifully/elegantly – Her pictures majestically decorated the room.
- Hazily – unclearly – The smoke hazily obscured the kitchen.
- Brazenly – carelessly – The brazenly painted house brought shame to all who lived there.
- Boisterously – energetically or brashly – He boisterously pulled back the curtains.
Adverbs of atmosphere reading exercise
The following short narrative uses all of the ten adverbs above. See if you understand them all in the context of this story; and look out for one or two new ones!
It was gruesomely cold when young Boris decided to leave the house. He needed to the market, but had brazenly chosen to go in the middle of the night. The weather was not ideal, and the market was likely to be closed, but the roads were suitably quiet, so he was happy.
After walking for ten minutes, Boris decided the normal route was unfathomably boring at night, and boisterously jumped over a wall to the church. The church rose majestically over him; a distractingly tall building. He was pleased by this sight, and walked through the church grounds.
On the other side of the church, however, there were no street-lights, and it was eerily dark. The market was just on the other side of the graveyard, he knew – at least, he hazily thought so. He was not very good with directions.
Boris crept onwards and became increasingly colder. He stumbled on a gravestone. Stopping in the dark graveyard, shivering and worried, he wondered if he this whole trip had been inappropriately planned from the start.
Experiment with the adverbs to build descriptive sentences yourself – and experiment with more atmosphere adverbs! It’s unfathomably good fun.