Do French adverbs intimidate you? Do you need to learn them in a simple yet effective way? We can help you figure them out fast. We curated this guide for you to learn how to use French adverbs smoothly and naturally – just like native speakers do.
You’ll need more than just the basics (such as nouns) if you want to become truly fluent in French. Adverbs enhance your powers of expression, and learning them will give you a much better grasp on the French language.
If you’ve studied even just a little bit of French, you’ve noticed that French adverbs often end in -ment, similar to how English adverbs end in -ly. But trust us — there is a lot more to French adverbs than this!
After reading through this guide, you’ll have answers to the following adverb-related questions:
- What are the key types of adverbs in French?
- Which words do French adverbs modify?
- How do I use adverbs in a French sentence?
Let’s get started!
What can French adverbs do for you?
A French adverb can modify various other components of the language, including verbs, adjectives, or another adverb. An adverb can also refer to the complete sentence and describe better what the speaker is thinking or feeling. Simply put, French adverbs can modify all major components but nouns (adjectives modify nouns).
Here are some examples:
- Modifying a verb: Je joue souvent au tennis. (I play tennis often.)
- Modifying an adjective: Je suis vraiment triste. (I’m really sad.)
- Modifying another adverb: Nous sommes très souvent allés au cinéma. (We go to the movies quite often.)
- Modifying a whole sentence: Avec regret, je suis en retard. (Regretfully, I’m late.)
Don’t miss this video full of handy French adverbs to spice up your conversations:
Forming a French Adverb From an Adjective
Even though not all French adverbs end in -ment, it’s imperative that you understand how to use this ending to construct adverbs.
Here are the general rules for forming a regular French adverb from an adjective:
1. When the adjective ends in a vowel, you can simply add -ment.
vrai ==> vraiment
fraiche ==> fraichement
2. When the adjective ends in a consonant, change the adjective to the feminine form, then add -ment.
lent ==> lente ==> lentement
actuel ==> actuelle ==> actuellement
The Various Types of French Adverbs
Here are the main types of adverbs in French and a few examples you’ll hear regularly:
1. Manner adverbs explain how something occurs: mal, vite, rapidement, bien
2. Quantity (intensity) adverbs tell how much or how many: beaucoup, moins, très, assez
3. Time adverbs tell when something occurs: déjà, éternellement, récemment, demain, ensuite
4. Place adverbs tell where something occurs: là-bas, en-dessous, extérieurement, ici
5. Frequency adverbs tell how often something occurs: parfois, souvent, rarement, toujours
6. Affirmation adverbs confirm or emphasize something: assurément, sûrement, certainement, précisément
7. Doubt adverbs show doubt: peut-être, probablement, vraisemblablement
Where to place French adverbs in a sentence?
When an adverb is used to modify a verb, it is placed after the verb.
Il parle lentement. (He speaks slowly.)
If the adverb is used to modify an adjective or adverb, it is placed before the adjective or adverb.
Ce fruit est très doux. (This fruit is very sweet.)
Tu parles vraiment beaucoup. (You really talk a lot.)
Now that you’ve gotten a rundown on adverbs, practice using them to better express yourself in colorful and interesting French sentences. We hope this guide helps, and for additional support toward your fluency goals, connect with our French tutors.