Which adverbs express certainty?

[ english ] [ grammar ] [ adverbs ]
asked on 24 Jan 2011
Isabella Holland Isabella Holland
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Some of the most frequently asked questions that we get are about adverbs, often with a request for a complete list of adverbs. Now that is a pretty big request as there are hundreds and hundreds of adverbs in English! However, what I think we will do is, from time to time, post common adverbs with the category that they belong to as this seems to be a lot more useful for you than to just deliver a long list of words. So today I am going to have a look at adverbs of certaintly.


These adverbs express how certain or sure we feel about an action or event.

Common adverbs of certainty include:

certainly, definitely, probably, undoubtedly, surely

How to put them in a sentence

Adverbs of certainty are usually placed in the mid-position - after auxiliary verbs and before other verbs. If you have two or more auxiliaries, the adverb goes after the first one.

  • Ghandi was undoubtedly a great influence on the peace movement.
  • It will certainly rain this evening.
  • I definitely need that report on my desk by tonight.
  • Sharaz will probably be at the party tomorrow night.
  • They have definitely been living in Turkey for ten years.

They go before the main verb but after the verb 'to be':

  • He definitely left the house this morning.
  • He is probably in the park.

With other auxiliary verbs, these adverbs go between the auxiliary and the main verb:

  • He has certainly forgotten the meeting.
  • He will probably remember tomorrow.

Sometimes these adverbs can be placed at the beginning of the sentence:

  • Undoubtedly, Winston Churchill was a great politician.

BE CAREFUL! with surely. When it is placed at the beginning of the sentence, it means the speaker thinks something is true, but is looking for confirmation:


Surely you've got a bicycle?

answered on 24 Jan 2011
Grammar Aunt Grammar Aunt
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