In French as in English, an adverb describes the action of a verb. It answers such questions as 'where', 'when,' 'how,' 'how long,' or 'how often.' Adverbs are invariable and may be used with almost all verbs.
An adverb may also qualify an adjective or another adverb. Consider the sentence: 'Edouard cuisine très bien' (Edouard cooks very well). Très qualifies bien and both describe the action of the verb 'cuisiner'.
Following is a list of frequently used adverbs, categorized by type:
formation of regular adverbs
A large number of French adverbs are derived from adjectives.
They are usually formed by adding -ment to the feminine singular form of the adjective. Note the exception 'gentiment', which is derived from the adjective 'gentil' (nice).
However, -ment is added to the masculine singular form of adjectives that end with a vowel. Note the exception 'gaiement' which is derived from the adjective 'gai' (cheerful).
Add -emment to the stem of adjectives that end in -ent; add -amment to the stem of adjectives ending in -ant. The stem is what remains of the adjective when -ent or -ant have been removed. Note that the one-syllable adjective 'lent' does not form its adverb, 'lentement', on this model.
Note the addition of an acute accent to form the following adverbs:
Use the following guidelines for placement of adverbs.
adverbs that modify an adjective or another adverb
Adverbs are placed directly before the adjective or adverb that they modify.
adverbs that modify a verb
Adverbs are usually placed immediately after the conjugated verb. If the verb is negative, the adverb is placed after the negation.
Note that most common adverbs are placed directly after the verb before the objects.
adverbs that modify a whole sentence
If an adverb is a comment on the entire sentence (malheureusement, en plus), it may be placed at the beginning or end of the sentence. Adverbs of this type include adverbs of time and place. In the following dialogue, contrast the adverbs that modify the whole sentence to those that modify just the verb.
|1 ) Tammy : Tex est le tatou qui embrasse ['kisses'] _________________. [superlative +, bien]|
|2 ) Tammy : Je parle français _________________ Bette. [=, bien]|
|3 ) Tammy : Fiona est l'étudiante qui réussit _________________ à UT. superlative [+, brillamment]|
|4 ) Tammy : Tex explique _________________ Edouard. [+, clairement]|
|5 ) Tammy : Corey apprend _________________ Fiona. [-, vite]|
|6 ) Tammy : De toutes mes amies, Bette parle _________________. [superlative -, honnêtement]|
|7 ) Tammy : Tex lit _________________ Joe-Bob. +, [rapidement]|
|8 ) Tammy : Joe-Bob chante _________________ Tex. [=, mal]|
|9 ) Tammy : Tex parle le français _________________ moi. [+, couramment]|
|10 ) Tammy : Corey travaille _________________ Fiona. [-, fréquemment]|
|11 ) Tammy : Tex mange _________________ moi. [-, poliment]|
|12 ) Tammy : De toutes mes copines, Bette ment ['lies'] _________________ [superlative +, souvent]|