French Grammar: Adverbs – Basics

French Grammar: Adverbs

French Grammar: Adverbs – Basics


French Vocabulary: Adverbs – Basics
le vocabulaire français: les adverbes une introduction

Just as an adjective modifies (describes) a noun, an ADVERB modifies a verb, adjective, or another adverb.  Adverbs generally answer the question How? How well? How much? How often? or When? They help us provide more details when we’re describing actions.


In English, adverbs often (but not always) end with –ly.  In French, adverbs often (but not always) end with -MENT.

Most French adverbs are formed by adding -MENT to the end of a masculine singular adjective which ends in a vowel:

absolu : absolument

vrai : vraiment

confortable : confortablement

If the masculine singular form of an adjective ends with a consonant, -MENT is added to the feminine singular form of that adjective:

attentif : attentivement

certain : certainement

complet : complètement

cruel : cruellement

doux : doucement

sérieux : sérieusement

If the masculine singular form of an adjective ends with -ANT, the adverb will end with -AMMENT.  If the masculine singular form of an adjective ends with -ENT, the adverb will end with -EMMENT.

constant : constamment

suffisant : suffisamment

évident : évidemment

récent : récemment

EXCEPTION:  lent : lentement

Some adverbs have forms that are entirely different from the corresponding adjective:

ADJECTIVE:  bon / good
ADVERB:  bien / well

ADJECTIVE:  mauvais / bad
ADVERB:  mal / badly; poorly

ADJECTIVE:  petit / little; small
ADVERB:  peu / a little; not much

Other common adverbs and adverbial phrases that do not follow the above patterns include:

alors : then

après : afterwards

assez : enough; quite

aujourd’hui : today

aussi : also; too

beaucoup : much; a lot

bientôt : soon

comme ci comme ça : so-so

déjà : already

demain : tomorrow

d’habitude : usually

encore : still; yet; again

enfin : at last; finally

ensemble : together

ensuite : then

hier : yesterday

ici : here

jamais : never

là : (over) there

loin : far

longtemps : a long time

maintenant : now

même : even

moins : less

partout : everywhere

peut-être : maybe; perhaps

plus : more

près : near

quelquefois : sometimes

souvent : often

surtout : especially

tard : late

tôt : soon; early

toujours : always; still

tout : quite; entirely

tout à coup : suddenly

tout à fait : completely; entirely

tout de suite : immediately

tellement : so much

très : very

trop : too much

vite : quickly; fast

In general, French adverbs are placed after the conjugated verb they modify.

Il mange rapidement.
He eats quickly.

In sentences with a verb in a compound tense, adverbs ending with -MENT usually come after the past participle.

Elles ont écouté attentivement.
They listened attentively.

However, some common adverbs – including ASSEZ, BEAUCOUP, BIEN, BIENTÔT, DÉJÀ, ENCORE, MAL, PEU, SOUVENT, TELLEMENT, TOUJOURS, TROP– usually come between the auxiliary verb and the past participle.

Tu as déjà mange?
Have you already eaten?

Adverbs of time and place always come either after the past participle or at the very beginning or very end of the sentence.

Nous avons cherché partout sur le campus.
We looked everywhere on campus.

Hier, j’avais invité des amis au cinéma.
Yesterday, I had invited some friends to the movies.

Vous avez commencé la leçon aujourd’hui.
You all began the lesson today.

Adverbs that modify an adjective or another adverb – such as  ASSEZ, AUSSI, BIEN, FORT, SI, TOUT, TRÈS – always come before the word they modify.

Je suis très contente de vous revoir.
I’m very happy to see you again.

Ils conduisent assez lentement.
They drive rather slowly.


Est-ce que tu chantes bien?

Do you sing well?

Non, je chante très mal!

No, I sing very badly!

Le prof parle lentement?

Does the professor speak slowly?

Non, le prof parle rapidement.

No, the professor speaks quickly.

Est-ce que tu regardes souvent la télé?
Do you (informal) often watch TV?

Non, je regarde rarement la télé.
No, I rarely watch TV.


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