Is “Really” an Adjective or an Adverb?

Sometimes you really want to know something—like, will it rain tomorrow? What is the origin of pancakes? Or is the word “really” an adjective or an adverb? For instance, consider the sentence, “You’re really good at asking questions.” Is “really good” an adjective that describes your ability to ask questions?

Basically, what part of speech is “really,” really? And what is the actual difference between adjectives and adverbs? (Also, does this article contain an over-abundance of the word, “really”? Fair warning, it does!)

Understandably, it can all get, well, really confusing. So, let’s get to the bottom of this grammatical debate. 

Understanding the Difference Between Adjectives and Adverbs

First, it helps to understand the difference between adjectives and adverbs. That way, when you discover which part of speech “really” is, you’ll have a better idea of how it works in a sentence. 


Adjectives are used to describe or modify nouns and pronouns with detail and clarity. For example, in the phrase “the crimson flower,” the word “crimson” is an adjective that tells us more about the flower’s rich, red color.


Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and even other adverbs. They often answer questions like “how,” “when,” or “where.” For instance, in the sentence “Tiffany runs quickly,” the word “quickly” is an adverb that describes Tiffany’s fast pace when running.

So, What Type of Word is “Really”?

And now for the moment of truth: Is “really” an adverb or adjective?

“Really” is an adverb!

Use “really” to intensify the meaning of what you’re communicating, similar to saying “very.” While “really” doesn’t alter the structure of your sentence, it does make your statement more emphatic.

Examples of How To Use “Really” in a Sentence

How do you use the adverb “really” correctly? And when is it the wrong word choice? Let’s go over some examples of how to properly use “really.”

Add Extra Emphasis

Using “really” in a sentence adds extra emphasis to what you’re saying. It takes your basic statement and amplifies it, making your feelings or opinions stronger and clearer.

For example, instead of saying, “I’m tired,” you might say, “I’m really tired,” to emphasize that you’re extremely tired. “Really” helps convey a higher degree of whatever you’re describing, whether it’s excitement, frustration, happiness, or any other emotion or state.

Question the Truthfulness of What Someone Is Saying

When someone tells you something that seems unbelievable, like your friend saying they saw a unicorn, you might respond with “Really?” This is a quick way to express that you find their statement hard to believe without directly calling it into question.

Soften the Impact of a Negative Statement

Using “really” can help make a negative statement sound less harsh. For example, instead of bluntly saying, “You are wrong,” you could say, “You’re really not seeing the whole picture here.”

This way, you still convey your point but in a gentler and more considerate manner, making the conversation more respectful and less confrontational.

In Moments of Interest or Astonishment

When you hear surprising news, like your friend telling you they won the lottery, you might respond with “Really?” In this context, “really” is used to express your curiosity or disbelief. It’s a quick way to show that you find the news shocking and you’re interested in knowing more.

While “really” is a versatile word, remember not to overuse it as a substitute for other adverbs like “actually” or “clearly.”

Really, It’s Not an Adjective!

You can now confidently answer that no, “really” is not an adjective. “Really” is an adverb. And it’s a great word for emphasizing how you feel or adding that extra oomph to your expressions. So, next time you want to double down on what you’re saying, go ahead and throw in a “really.”

To learn more about the nuances of language, check out our Grammar Help resource so you can really become a grammar expert.


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