Adjectives Ending in -ly


Students are often confused by adjectives that end in -ly because they look like adverbs of manner. Below is a table listing some of the most common -ly adjectives.

Adjective Meaning Example
Very High Frequency:
   
daily*
early*
elderly
friendly
likely
lovely
unlikely
every day
before expected time
old
pleasant; nice
will probably happen
wonderful; beautiful
probably won't happen; unpromising
my daily schedule
an early lunch
an elderly person
a friendly lady
It's likely to rain.
a lovely evening
He's unlikely to come.
High Frequency:
   
holy
lively
lonely
monthly*
silly
ugly
weekly*
dedicated to God
full of energy/spirit
unhappy from being alone
once a month
not serious or intelligent
without beauty
once a week
a holy place
a lively debate
a lonely girl
a monthly payment
a silly movie
an ugly painting
a weekly magazine
Medium Frequency:
   
costly
curly
deadly
unfriendly
expensive; causing problems
having curls
causing death; lethal
not friendly
a costly mistake
curly hair
a deadly weapon
an unfriendly person
Low Frequency:
   
bimonthly*
biweekly*
bodily
chilly
cowardly
disorderly
easterly
ghastly
ghostly
grisly
heavenly
hilly
homely
hourly*
jolly
kindly
leisurely
manly
measly
melancholy
miserly
nightly*
northerly
oily
orderly
quarterly
scholarly
sly
smelly
southerly
stately
surly
timely
unruly
unsightly
untimely
westerly
wobbly
woolly
yearly*
every two months
every two weeks
relating to the body
somewhat cold
without courage; not brave
noisy and violent; not neat
from/toward the east
shockingly repellent; terrible
resembling a ghost
gruesome
relating to heaven(s); beautiful
having many hills
unattractive
each hour/by the hour
merry; happy
kindhearted/agreeable
unhurried; without haste
characteristic of a man
contemptibly small/meager
causing sadness/depression
stingy
each night
from/toward the north
greasy
neat; tidy/well-behaved
four times a year
related to academic research
cunning; mischievous
having an unpleasant odor
from/toward the south
majestic/dignified
rude/bad-tempered/unfriendly
at a suitable time; opportune
difficult to control
unpleasant to look at
at a unsuitable time
from/toward the west
not steady/shaky
having/resembling wool
each year
a bimonthly magazine
a biweekly publication
severe bodily injury
a chilly night
a cowardly act
disorderly conduct/room
an easterly wind/trip
a ghastly tale/movie
a ghostly noise
a grisly discovery
heavenly bodies/music
hilly terrain
a homely woman
hourly reports/wages
a jolly Christmas
a kindly benefactor
a leisurely stroll
a manly voice
a measly salary
a melancholy scene
a miserly person
the nightly news
a northerly wind/trip
oily fish
an orderly room/procession
a quarterly report
a scholarly journal
a sly strategy/smile
smelly socks
a southerly wind/trip
a stately mansion
a surly waiter
in a timely manner
an unruly teenager/tongue
an unsightly appearance
his untimely death
a westerly wind/trip
a wobbly table
a woolly mammoth
a yearly medical exam

*These words are also adverbs.


1. The -ly suffix is added to nouns to form adjectives to indicate that someone or something is like a another person or thing in manner, nature, or appearance.1

2. The -ly suffix is added to nouns that to say that something happens at regular intervals.2

1,2 "-ly." Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. Retrieved August 18, 2011, from http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/-ly


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This page was last modified on 08/18/11