French/Grammar/Adverbs

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French adverbs, like their English counterparts, are used to modify adjectives, other adverbs, and verbs or clauses. They do not display any inflection; that is, their form does not change to reflect their precise role, nor any characteristics of what they modify.

Formation[edit]

In French, as in English, most adverbs are derived from adjectives. In most cases, this is done by adding the suffix -ment ("-ly") to the adjective's feminine singular form. For example, the feminine singular form of lent ("slow") is lente, so the corresponding adverb is lentement ("slowly"); similarly, heureuxheureusement ("happy" → "happily").

As in English, however, the adjective stem is sometimes modified to accommodate the suffix:

  • If the adjective ends in an i, then -ment is added to the masculine singular (default) form, rather than to the feminine singular form:
    • vraivraiment ("real" → "really")
    • polipoliment ("polite" → "politely")
  • If the adjective ends in -ant or -ent, then the corresponding adverb ends in -amment or -emment, respectively:
    • constantconstamment ("constant" → "constantly")
    • récentrécemment ("recent" → "recently")
  • Some adjectives make other changes:
    • précisprécisément ("precise" → "precisely")
    • gentilgentiment ("nice" → "nicely")

Some adverbs are derived from adjectives in completely irregular fashions, not even using the suffix -ment:

  • bonbien ("good" → "well")
  • mauvaismal ("bad" → "badly")
  • meilleurmieux ("better"-adjective → "better"-adverb)
  • pirepire ("worse"-adjective → "worse"-adverb)

And, as in English, many common adverbs are not derived from adjectives at all:

  • ainsi ("thus" or "thusly")

Placement[edit]

The placement of French adverbs is almost the same as the placement of English adverbs.

An adverb that modifies an adjective or adverb comes before that adjective or adverb:

  • complètement vrai ("completely true")
  • pas possible ("not possible")
  • tellement discrètement ("so discreetly")

An adverb that modifies an Infinitive (verbal noun) generally comes after the infinitive:

  • marcher lentement ("to walk slowly")

But negative adverbs, such as pas ("not"), pas plus ("not any more"), and jamais come before the infinitive:

  • ne pas marcher ("not to walk")

An adverb that modifies a main verb or clause comes either after the verb, or before the clause:

  • Lentement il commença à marcher or Il commença lentement à marcher ("Slowly, he began to walk" or "He began slowly to walk").

Note that, unlike in English, this is true even of negative adverbs:

  • Jamais je n'ai fait cela or Je n'ai jamais fait cela ("Never have I done that" or "I've never done that")

List of common adverbs[edit]

Adverb English Group French Example English Translation
actuellement currently time
ainsi thus, so manner ainsi va la vie so life goes (nothing you can do)
après afterwards time On va au cinéma après We'll go to the cinema afterwards
assez enough quantity
aussi also manner
aussitôt straight away time
autant as many / as much quantity
autrefois in the past time
autrement differently, otherwise manner
avant-hier on the day before yesterday time
beau, bel, belle nicely (in expressions) manner
beaucoup (de) much, many quantity
bien well manner
bientôt soon time à tres bientôt see you very soon
cependant however conjunction
certainement certainly affirmation
certes admittedly, of course affirmation leur tâche est certes plus difficile their task is admittedly more difficult
ci-dessous below place Rédigez votre message ci-dessous Write your message below
combien (de) how much, many interrogative un succès, ô combien mérité a success, oh how deserved
comment how interrogative
complètement completely degree il se troue complètement he screws up completely
davantage more, longer degree
debout standing, up manner
dedans inside place ils se sont rentrés dedans they crashed into each other
en dehors de outside, apart from place
déjà already time
au delà de beyond place au delà de 35 ans over 35 years old
demain tomorrow time demain soir tomorrow evening
désormais from now on time
devant ahead, in front place
doucement gently, quietly manner
également also, equally degree
encore again, still time Ils jouent encore They are still playing
enfin at last, finally time
ensemble together manner on vivait ensemble depuis longtemps we have been living together for a long time
ensuite then, next time Ensuite, cela devenait très compliqué Then it became very difficult
environ about degree il va être absent environ un mois he will be off for about a month
facilement easily manner
fort strongly manner il a démarré très fort he started very strongly
heureusement fortunately manner
hier yesterday time
ici here, now place les vacances commencent ici the holidays start here
there place
là-dedans in here, in there place il n'y a rien de mystère là-dedans there is no mystery in it
là-dessus on here, on there place on reste là-dessus we stay where we are
largement greatly, well degree
légèrement lightly, slightly degree
lentement slowly manner lentement mais sûrement slowly but surely
loin far place la soirée est loin d'être fini the evening is far from over
longtemps a long time time
lors de during time
maintenant now time Et maintenant on fait quoi? And now, what do we do?
mal badly, wrongly manner
malheureusement unfortunately manner
même even degree
moins less, least quantity
néanmoins nevertheless manner
parfois sometimes time La vie est parfois cruel Life is sometimes cruel
partout everywhere place
peu little degree on peut respirer un peu mieux we can breathe a little easier
peut-être perhaps affirmation la prochaine fois, peut-être next time, perhaps
plus more quantity nous sommes plus que jamais déterminé we are more determined than ever
plutôt rather degree
pourquoi why interrogative
pourtant yet Si près, et pourtant si loin ! So near, and yet so far!
près close place
presque almost degree
puis then time
quelque approximately quantity on supporte le parti quelque soit les sondages we support the party whatever the opinion polls
quelquefois sometimes time je joue quelquefois du piano I sometimes play the piano
récemment recently time
seulement only degree
si yes, so, however, as affirmation ils ne méritent pas d'être en si bonne position they don't deserve to be in as good a position
souvent often time
surtout above all
tant so much quantity un événement tant attendu a much awaited event
tantôt sometimes, this afternoon time
tard late time
tellement so much, so many degree la météo c'est tellement imprévisible the weather is so unpredictable
tôt soon, early time les billets ont été épuisés plus tôt que prévu the tickets were sold out earlier than expected
toujours still, always time
tout very, quite degree tout à fait justifié totally justified
très very degree
vite quickly manner
vraiment really, truly affirmation
y to it, there place