Master French Adverbs with Ease

Learn the formation, usage, and placement of adverbs in French.

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Adverbs are an important part of a sentence. They offer added context and further explain the when, where, to what extent and how, of the action being described. If you want to express these ideas in French, then it's time for you to learn about French adverbs.

Formation of French adverbs

Most French adverbs are formed from adjectives. The usual way to form an adverb is to take the feminine form of an adjective and add "-ment" at the end.

Here is how it works:

  • For masculine adjectives that end in "-e", simply add "-ment" to the adjective.
  • If a masculine adjective does not end in "-e", use its feminine form and add "-ment".
  • Some adverbs end in "-emment" or "-amment". They are formed from adjectives that end in "-ent" or "-ant".
  • Irregular French adverbs don't follow the common "-ment" formation rule.

For masculine adjectives that already end in "-e", you simply add "-ment" to form the adverb.

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Formation of adverbs from adjectives ending with "-e"

Masculine Adjective Adverb
Facile (Easy) Facilement (Easily)
Agréable (Pleasant) Agréablement (Pleasantly)
Calme (Calm) Calmement (Calmly)

If the masculine adjective doesn't end in "-e", you need to use the feminine form of the adjective and then add "-ment".

Adverbs formed from feminine adjectives

Masculine Adjective Feminine Adjective Adverb
Heureux (Happy) Heureuse Heureusement (Happily)
Lent (Slow) Lente Lentement (Slowly)
Profond (Deep) Profonde Profondément (Deeply)

These adjectives form adverbs ending in "-amment" or "-emment".

Formation of adverbs by adding "-amment" or "-emment"

Adjective Adverb
Constant (Constant) Constamment (Constantly)
Évident (Evident) Évidemment (Evidently)
Suffisant (Sufficient) Suffisamment (Sufficiently)

Remember, there are also many irregular adverbs that don't follow these rules, so it's important to learn and memorize them as well. Irregular French adverbs that don't follow the common "-ment" formation rule.

Irregular adverbs

Irregular Adverb Origin Example
Bien (Well) Derived from the adjective bon (good). Elle parle bien français. (She speaks French well.)
Mal (Badly) Derived from the adjective mauvais (bad). Il chante mal. (He sings badly.)
Vite (Fast) N/A Il court vite. (He runs fast.)
Tôt (Early) N/A Je me suis levé tôt. (I got up early.)
Mieux (Better) Derived from the adjective bon (good). Elle chante mieux que moi. (She sings better than me.)

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Function of French adverbs

French adverbs answer questions like "when", "where", "how" and to what extent is something done? Here are a few examples


Function of adverbs in a sentence

Type of Adverb French Adverb Example
Manner (how?) Rapidement (Quickly) Il mange rapidement. (He eats quickly.)
Place (where?) Ici (Here) Je vis ici. (I live here.)
Time (when?) Tard (Late) Elle arrive toujours tard. (She always arrives late.)
Frequency (how often?) Souvent (Often) Nous voyageons souvent. (We often travel.)
Intensity Très (Very) Il est très grand. (He is very tall.)
Doubt or Certainty Peut-être (Maybe) Il viendra peut-être demain. (He might come tomorrow.)
Affirmation or Negation Non (No/No longer...) Non, je ne veux pas partir. (No, I don't want to leave.)

Placement of French Adverbs

French adverbs may appear in different positions in a sentence depending on what they modify. Adverbs in French modify verbs as well as adjectives, whole phrases and other adverbs. Here is a table with some common examples:

Placement of adverbs in a sentence

Placement Function French Adverb Example
After the verb To modify a verb Doucement (Softly) Il parle doucement. (He speaks softly.)
Before the adjective To modify an adjective Très (Very) Cette femme est très courageuse. (That woman is very brave.)
At the beginning of the sentence To emphasize or to modify the whole sentence Malheureusement (Unfortunatley) Malheureusement, je ne peux pas venir. (Unfortunately, I can’t come.)
At the end of the sentence To emphasize or to modify the whole sentence Franchement (Frankly) Il parle franchement. (He speaks frankly.)
Before the adverb To modify another adverb Beaucoup (A lot, Much) Il gagne beaucoup trop d’argent. (He wins a lot of money.)

The Exception: Jamais in negative sentence

The adverb jamais (never) follows a specific rule when you use it in a negative sentence: ne + verb + jamais. For example, "Je ne mange jamais de viande." (I never eat meat.)

Expressions with tous les and une / deux / trois fois par

When you want to indicate frequency, use expressions like tous les (every) and une/deux/trois fois par (once/twice/thrice per). For example, "Je vais à la gym tous les jours." (I go to the gym every day.) Or, "Je mange du poisson deux fois par semaine." (I eat fish twice a week.)

The expression tous les is used for frequency, similar to "every" in English. It is used with a noun in the plural form to show that the action is done every time that something else occurs.

Adverbs of frequency – tous les

French English
Tous les jours Everyday
Tous les soirs Every evening
Tous les mois Every month
Tous les ans Every year

Une fois par…, deux fois par…, trois fois par… indicate the number of times an action occurs in a certain period of time.

Adverbs of frequency – fois par

French English
Une fois par jour Once a day
Deux fois par semaine Twice a week
Trois fois par mois Thrice (Three times) per month
Une fois par an Once a year

Wrapping up

Mastering French adverbs allows you to express yourself more precisely and fluently in French.

Take the time to familiarize yourself with them and practice using them in sentences. Their formation often follows a standard rule of adding "-ment" to the feminine form of adjectives. However, there are some exceptions to bear in mind.

French adverbs answer questions like how, when, where, and to what extent. They offer you the ability to express time, intensity, place, quantity, and frequency.

The placement of adverbs varies depending on the context and what part of the sentence they modify. When modifying an adjective, adverbs in French are usually placed before the adjective. They are usually placed at the beginning or at the very end of a sentence when modifying a whole sentence. French adverbs are placed after the verb when modifying a verb.

Remember, getting a firm grasp on French adverbs is a big step forward in achieving your French language goals. Keep practicing and keep learning!

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