Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Searching for Adjectives and Adverbs.

Searching for Adjectives and Adverbs

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 25, 2018)

The English language is made up of many different types of words. There are nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and so on, each filling a specific purpose in the grammar of a sentence. (Some say that English is a hard language to learn. I always answer that it didn't seem too hard to me—in fact, I learned it as a child. :>))

In analyzing a document, you may want to find out how many of a particular type of word is used within a sentence. For instance, you might want to determine how many adjectives and adverbs there are in your document. Unfortunately, Word does not provide a built-in means to locate such words.

Adjectives, of course, are words that modify or describe nouns. For instance, in "the tall tree," the word "tall" (an adjective) describes the word "tree" (a noun). Many, many words can function as adjectives, and whether a particular word is an adjective in a particular sentence depends on the context in which that word is used. Because of this, it is virtually impossible to come up with a macro that will determine if a word is an adjective and then somehow highlight it.

Adverbs are a different story. Most adverbs end in the letters "ly," and most words that end in "ly" are adverbs. This rule, although not 100% accurate, at least gives you some sort of guideline around which you can build a macro. Consider the following macro:

Sub FindAdverbs()
    Dim i As Integer
    Dim CurrentString As String

    For i = 1 To ActiveDocument.Words.Count
        CurrentString = Trim(ActiveDocument.Words(i).Text)
        If Right(CurrentString, 2) = "ly" Then
            With ActiveDocument.Words(i)
                .Italic = Not .Italic
                .Bold = Not .Bold
            End With
        End If
    Next i
End Sub

This macro searches the entire document for any word that ends in ly. If it finds one, the word is made bold and italics. This makes it easy to spot probable adverbs within a document. If you run the macro a second time, those same words are converted back to regular text.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11486) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Searching for Adjectives and Adverbs.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Counting Employees in Classes

Excel is very good at counting things, even when those things need to meet specific criteria. This tip shows how you can ...

Discover More

Using Multiple Print Settings

Do you have a worksheet from which you need to print only portions of the data available? There are two ways you can ...

Discover More

Fitting to a Single Page

It can be frustrating when a single-page document actually prints of two pages, depending on the system that is doing the ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Replacing with Plain Text

When using Find and Replace, how your replacements are formatted will depend on how the text being replaced is formatted. ...

Discover More

A Fast Find-Next

Want a quick, easy way to "search again" for the next occurrence of what you need? Use the technique in this tip and ...

Discover More

Copying Found Items to a New Document

Word allows you to use its searching capabilities to easily find multiple items in a document. What if you want to copy ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is eight more than 8?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.