French Adverbs

Beginner French - Level A2

Overview

Adverbs are words that describe and modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. When an adverb modifies a word, this means it changes its meaning or adds more precision/detail. Adverbs can even modify entire sentences. Adverbs tell us how, when, where, why, how often, or how much. French adverbs can modify all major components of the French language except for nouns (adjectives modify nouns).

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French Adverbs

Similar to an adjective, an adverb is a descriptive word. The difference between an adjective and an adverb is that an adjective describes a noun or pronoun and an adverb describes a verb. The most common examples of adverbs in English end in the letters -ly. Take a look at these examples:

He runs quickly to catch up to his friend.                  

The adverb quickly modifies how the subject (He) runs (the verb).

 

We write carefully to avoid making mistakes.

The adverb carefully modifies how the subject (We) write (the verb).

 

In this module, we will focus on two common types of adverbs in French. And, most importantly, where to place them in sentences. The two types are adverbs of frequency (how often an action occurs) and adverbs of manner (how an action is carried out). View the lists below to study these two categories of adverbs.

 

Adverbs of Frequency

 

Adverbs of Manner

jamais

 

ever

 

bien

 

well

parfois

 

sometimes

 

mal

 

poorly

rarement

 

rarely

 

heureusement

 

happily

souvent

 

often

 

poliment

 

politely

toujours

quelquefois

bientôt

maintenant

 

always

sometimes

soon

now

 

rapidement

 lentement

constamment

énormément

 

quickly

slowly

constantly

enormously

 

What do you notice in the “Adverbs of Manner” list? Some of the most common French adverbs end in the ending, -ment. This would be the equivalent to the -ly in English. It’s added to the adjective form of the verb.

If the adjective ends in a vowel, you can add -ment to it directly.

poli poliment          politely

 

Some adjectives that end in a consonant are changed to their feminine adjective forms so that a vowel will then precede the -ment ending.

 

heureux heureuse heureusement           happily

 

Other adverb rules require an accent to be added to the word or a double letter (-emment or -amment if the adjective ends in -ent or -ant respectively).

 

énorme → énormément                      enormously

constantconstamment                    constantly

 

View the resources in this module for examples of additional adverbs and adverb rules.

 

Adverbs in a sentence:

For the two categories of adverbs that we’re talking about today, we need to talk about where they are placed in a French sentence. Often, these adverbs are placed after the verb. *And when negating a sentence, the adverb typically follows the “pas.” Review the examples below:

                        On mange bien ici!

                        We eat well here !

 

                        Nous achetons parfois des bijoux chers.

We sometimes buy expensive jewelry.

 

                        Cleo ne conduit pas lentement.

                        Cleo doesn’t drive slowly.

 

Le jeune garçon na pas parlé poliment au Monsieur.

The young boy didn’t speak politely to the Mister.

 

*You will learn additional negative adverbs in Module 9.

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Directions: Change the following adjectives to adverbs according to one of the rules provided in this module.

 

  • rare
  • absolu
  • apparent

 

Directions: Place the given adverb in one of the spaces provided in each sentence.

 

  • Je ne mange ______ pas _______. (maintenant)
  • David et Élise sont ______ allés _______ en avion pour les voyages. (toujours)
  • Le bébé _____ pleure _____ quand il a faim. (doucement)

 

Answers and Translation

 

  • rarement
  • absolument
  • apparemment
  • Je ne mange pas maintenant. / We are not eating now.
  • David et Élise sont toujours allés en avion pour les voyages. / David and Élise always went by plane for the trips.
  • Le bébé pleure doucement quand il a faim. / The baby cries softly when it’s hungry.

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