Adverbs

In French, many adverbs are formed by adding ‐ ment, the equivalent of ‐ly in English, to the masculine or feminine form of the related adjective. Other adverbs are totally distinct in nature and must be memorized. Because adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs (and not nouns or pronouns), they do not agree with any other words in the sentence.

Forming adverbs

To form an adverb:

Add ‐ment to the masculine singular form of an adjective that ends with a vowel:

 

If the masculine singular form ends in a consonant, add ‐ment to the feminine singular form of the adjective:

  • sérieux (masc.) becomes sérieuse (fem.) = sérieusement

Two exceptions include gentil (nice), which is gentille in its feminine adjective form but gentiment (nicely) as an adverb, and bref (brief), which is brève in its feminine adjective form but brièvement (briefly) as an adverb.

For a few adjectives with a silent ‐e ending, add ‐é before ‐ment:

 

 

Adjectives with ‐ant and ‐ent endings have adverbs ending in ‐amment and ‐emment, respectively. An exception is lent (slow), which becomes lentement (slowly) in its adverbial form:

 

 

Some adverbs have forms that are distinct from adjectives and must be memorized:

 

Some adverbs are not formed from adjectives:

  • ainsi (thus, so)
  • alors (then)
  • après (afterward)
  • assez (enough)
  • aujourd'hui (today)
  • auparavant (before)
  • aussi (also, too)
  • beaucoup (much)
  • bientôt (soon)
  • cependant (however)
  • comme (as)
  • davantage (more)
  • dedans (inside)
  • dehors (outside)
  • déjà (already)
  • demain (tomorrow)
  • encore (still, yet, again)
  • enfin (finally, at last)
  • ensemble (together)
  • ensuite (then, afterward)
  • environ (about)
  • exprès (on purpose)
  • hier (yesterday)
  • ici (here)
  • (there)
  • loin (far)
  • longtemps (a long time)
  • maintenant (now)
  • même (even)
  • parfois (sometimes)
  • partout (everywhere)
  • peut‐être (perhaps, maybe)
  • plus (more)
  • plutôt (rather)
  • près de (near)
  • presque (almost)
  • puis (then)
  • quelquefois (sometimes)
  • si (so)
  • souvent (often)
  • surtout (especially)
  • tant (so much)
  • tard (late)
  • tôt (soon, early)
  • toujours (always, still)
  • tout (quite, entirely)
  • très (very)
  • trop (too much)
  • vite (quickly)

Use and placement of adjectives

Adverbs are generally placed after the verbs they modify:

  • Elle parle rapidement. (She speaks quickly.)
  • Il a conduit lentement. (He drove slowly.)

In the passé composé, small, common adverbs ( bien, mal, souvent, toujours, déjà, and encore) precede the past participle:

  • Il a bien parlé. (He spoke well.)
  • J'ai déjà lu ce livre. (I already read that book.)

Longer adverbs may be placed at the beginning of the sentence:

  • D'habitude nous mangeons tard. (Generally, we eat late.)

Note that a few adjectives (in the masculine singular form) are used adverbially in common expressions:

  • aller droit (to go straight ahead)
  • coûter cher (to cost a lot)
  • parler bas (to speak in a low voice)
  • parler fort/haut (to speak in a loud voice)
  • payer cher (to cost a lot)
  • s'arrêter net (to stop short)
  • travailler dur (to work hard)

Adverbial expressions may be formed by combining the following:

preposition + noun

  • à la fin (finally)
  • à la fois (at the same time)
  • à merveille (marvelously)
  • à peine (hardly, scarcely)
  • à présent (now)
  • à temps (in time)
  • d'avance (in advance)
  • de rigueur (required)
  • par hasard (by chance)

preposition + adjective (+ noun)

  • de bon appétit (with a hearty appetite)
  • de nouveau (again)
  • par conséquent (consequently)

preposition + adverb

  • à jamais (forever)
  • d'ailleurs (besides)

preposition + several words

  • et ainsi de suite (and so on and so forth)
  • tant mieux (so much the better)
  • tout à ( d'un) coup (suddenly)
  • tout à fait (entirely)
  • tout de même (just the same)
  • tout de suite (immediately)

Adverbs expressing quantity are followed by the preposition de (without any other article):

  • assez de (enough)
  • autant de (as much, many)
  • beaucoup de (a lot of)
  • combien de (how much, how many)
  • moins de (less, fewer)
  • peu de (little, few)
  • plus de (more)
  • tant de (so much, so many)
  • trop de (too much, too many)

Irregular adverbs

Note the following irregular adverbs:

  • bien (well)
  • mieux (better)
  • le mieux (the best)

and

  • mal (badly)
  • plus mal (worse)
  • le plus mal (the worst)