french-adverbs

110 Important French Adverbs and How to Use Them

Adverbs are words that describe verbs or adjectives.

For example, in the sentence: “Jacque ran quickly through a very big library,” both “very” and “quickly” are adverbs.

Adverbs help you be more clear in your sentences, helping imbue your French with expressiveness and nuance.

In this post you’ll learn 110 common French adverbs you can start using right away, along with how to form French adverbs and where to place them in sentences.

Contents

110 Common French Adverbs You Should Know

Adverbs of time

An adverb of time clarifies when a specific action is taking place. An adverb of time generally answers the question quand (when) in French sentences. Check out some examples below.

Aujourd’hui (today)

Je vais aujourd’hui à l’école.
(I am going to school today.)

Bientôt (soon)

Nous arrivons bientôt.
(We are arriving soon.)

Déjà (already)

On a déjà joué ce jeu.
(We already played that game.)

Demain (tomorrow)

Tu fais le travail demain.
(You are doing the work tomorrow.)

Désormais (from now on)

Elle est désormais responsable de cette tâche.
(She is responsible for that task from now on.)

Enfin (finally)

Nous avons enfin trouvé le livre.
(We finally found the book.)

Hier (yesterday)

Il a parlé à sa mère hier.
(He spoke to his mother yesterday.)

Immédiatement (immediately)

Viens immédiatement, s’il vous plaît.
(Come immediately, please.)

Longtemps (for a long time)

Vous dansez longtemps à la discothèque.
(You are dancing for a long time at the dance club.)

Maintenant (now)

Elle mange maintenant.
(She is eating now.)

Récemment (recently)

Tu as regardé ce film récemment.
(You recently watched this movie.)

Soudainement (suddenly)

Ils sont soudainement arrivés.
(They suddenly arrived.)

Tard (late, later)

Tu arrives tard.
(You’re arriving late.)

Tôt (early)

Je me lève tôt.
(I wake up early.)

Adverbs of manner

An adverb of manner tells us the manner in which or how something occurs. This adverb answers the question comment (how) in French. Let’s check out some adverbs of manner.

Ainsi (like this)

J’ai dit que c’est ainsi.
(I said it’s like this.)

Bravement (bravely)

Le garçon parle bravement.
(The boy speaks bravely.)

Ensemble (together)

Elles lisent ensemble.
(They read together.)

Heureusement (fortunately)

Nous sommes heureusement venus à l’heure.
(We, fortunately, arrived on time.)

Lentement (slowly)

Répétez lentement, s’il vous plaît.
(Repeat slowly, please.)

Malheureusement (unfortunately)

Malheureusement le cours a fini.
(Unfortunately, the course has finished.)

Précisément (precisely)

Vous arrivez à précisément 8h.
(You are arriving precisely at 8:00 am.)

Professionnellement (professionally)

L’avocat a agi professionnellement.
(The lawyer acted professionally.)

Prudemment (carefully)

Elle conduit prudemment.
(She drives carefully.)

Rapidement (quickly)

Elles lisent rapidement.
(They read quickly.)

Suffisamment (sufficiently)

Ils préparent suffisamment pour le test.
(They’re preparing sufficiently for the test.)

Vite (quickly)

La femme court vite.
(The woman runs quickly.)

Vraiment (truly)

Dis-moi vraiment si tu aimes mon manteau.
(Tell me truly if you like my coat.)

Adverbs of place

An adverb of place describes the location where an action occurs. It answers the question of (where) in French. Take a look at the most common adverbs of place.

Ailleurs (elsewhere)

Je vais ailleurs pour acheter mes livres.
(I go elsewhere to buy my books.)

Dedans (Inside)

Tu vois le chien dedans.
(You see the dog inside.)

Dehors (outside)

Va dehors!
(Go outside.)

Derrière (behind)

Il y a un homme derrière la voiture.
(There is a man behind the car.)

Devant (in front of)

Le chat s’assoit devant la chaise.
(The cat sits in front of the chair.)

En bas (below)

J’ai plus de vin en bas.
(I have more wine below/down there.)

En haut (high)

L’avion est en haut dans le ciel.
(The airplane is high in the sky.)

Ici (here)

Viens ici!
(Come here!)

(there)

Mets le vase .
(Put the vase there.)

Loin (far)

Elles habitent loin d’ici.
(They live far away from here.)

N’importe où (anywhere)

Nous allons n’importe où.
(We are going anywhere.)

Partout (everywhere)

Elle voit les nuages partout.
(She sees clouds everywhere.)

Près (close)

Le magasin est près.
(The store is close.)

Adverbs of quantity

The adverbs of quantity in French let us know how much or how many of something there is. These adverbs answer the question combien (how much/how many) in French.

Not that these adverbs can come before nouns. In this case, they often take the word de (of) without their definite article.

Assez (quite, fairly)

Il est assez bon.
(He is quite good.)

Autant (as much, as many)

Tu aimes autant voyager que rester chez toi.
(You like to travel as much as you like to stay home.)

Beaucoup (a lot)

J’ai beaucoup travaillé.
(I worked a lot.)

Complètement (completely)

On a complètement oublié.
(We completely forgot.)

Davantage (more)

Elle ne veut pas en manger davantage.
(She doesn’t want to eat any more of it.)

Environ (approximately)

Nous avons environ 100 euros.
(We have approximately 100 euro.)

Moins (less)

Vous avons besoin de moins.
(You need less.)

Peu (a little)

J’ai bu peu.
(I drank a little.)

Plus (more)

Il mange plus.
(He eats more.)

Seulement (only)

Elle voit seulement deux ordinateurs.
(She only sees two computers.)

Tant (so much, so many)

Ils chantent tant.
(They sing so much.)

Tellement (so)

Le chien court tellement bien.
(The dog runs so well.)

Très (very)

Le repas est très bon.
(The meal is very good.)

Trop (too much)

Ils parlent trop.
(They speak too much.)

Adverbs of frequency

An adverb of frequency lets us know how often an action occurs. Unlike adverbs of time, these don’t necessarily focus on a specific time. Rather, they focus on a time cycle where an action happens repeatedly.

D’habitude (usually)

D’habitude nous allons à la bibliothèque.
(Usually, we go to the library.)

Encore (again)

Je joue encore.
(I’m playing again.)

Fréquemment (frequently)

Tu manges fréquemment les fruits.
(You frequently eat fruits.)

Habituellement (usually)

Il fait habituellement ses devoirs.
(He usually does his homework.)

Occasionnellement (occasionally)

Le chien aboie occasionnellement.
(The dog occasionally barks.)

Parfois (sometimes)

Vous célébrez parfois les anniversaires.
(You sometimes celebrate birthdays.)

Quelquefois (sometimes)

Ils voyagent quelquefois au Canada.
(They sometimes travel to Canada.)

Rarement (rarely)

Nous sortons rarement.
(We rarely go out.)

Souvent (often)

Elles mangent souvent la viande.
(They often eat meat.)

Toujours (always)

Vous regardez toujours ces émissions.
(You always watch these television shows.)

Adverbs of affirmation

An adverb of affirmation adds credibility to an action. They’re used to back something up or affirm that something is true or correct. Let’s dive into the most common adverbs of affirmation.

Apparemment (apparently)

L’homme a apparemment gagné beaucoup d’argent.
(The man apparently won a lot of money.)

Assurément (definitely)

Ils sont assurément en retard.
(They’re definitely late.)

Certainement (certainly)

Nous voulons certainement du vin.
(We certainly want wine.)

Certes (certainly)

C’est facile, certes.
(It is certainly easy.)

Effectivement (indeed/actually)

J’ai dit oui et, effectivement, je suis allé au cinéma.
(I said yes and, indeed, I went to the movies.)

Évidemment (evidently)

Vous aimez évidemment la musique rock.
(You evidently like rock music.)

Immanquablement (inevitably)

Il a immanquablement réussi l’examen.
(He inevitably passed the exam.)

Sans doute (without doubt)

Elle a sans doute volé le sac à main.
(She without doubt stole the purse.)

Sûrement (surely)

Nous allons sûrement demain.
(We will surely go tomorrow.)

Vraisemblablement (in all likelihood)

Ils ont vraisemblablement vu un oiseau rare.
(They saw a rare bird in all likelihood.)

Adverbs of negation

An adverb of negation adds an element of the negative to an action. In fact, these adverbs are the most common way to make an entire sentence negative, and many of these adverbs have two particles (two words).

Ne … aucunement (not at all)

Je n’aime aucunement de pommes.
(I don’t like apples at all.)

Ne … guère (hardly)

Nous n’allons guère à cette église.
(We hardly go to that church.)

Ne … jamais (never)

Tu ne manges jamais de sucre.
(You never eat sugar.)

Ne … nullement (not in any way)

La fille n’est nullement responsable.
(The girl is in no way responsible.)

Ne … nulle part (nowhere)

Vous n’irez nulle part demain.
(You will go nowhere tomorrow.)

Ne … pas (not)

Ils ne dansent pas.
(They do not dance.)

Ne … pas encore (not yet)

Elles ne sont pas encore chez eux.
(They’re not at home yet.)

Ne … personne (no one)

Je ne vois personne.
(I see no one.)

Ne … plus (not anymore)

Le chien n’aboie plus.
(The dog does not bark anymore.)

Ne … rien (nothing)

Nous ne voulons rien.
(We want nothing.)

Adverbs of doubt

Opposite to an adverb of affirmation, an adverb of doubt shows that the speaker is not so sure of an action. These are used to make something seem questionable as to whether it is true or correct. Take a look at the most common adverbs of doubt.

Avec hésitation (with hesitation/doubtfully)

Elle répond avec hésitation.
(She responds with hesitation.)

D’un air de doute (doubtfully)

Il me regarde d’un air de doute.
(He looks at me doubtfully.)

Hypothétiquement (hypothetically)

Je lis hypothétiquement demain.
(I will hypothetically read tomorrow.)

Peut-être (surely)

Nous allons peut-être à l’hôpital.
(We will maybe go to the hospital.)

Possiblement (possibly)

La famille est possiblement français.
(The family is possibly French.)

Probablement (probably)

Elles parlent probablement allemande.
(They probably speak German.)

Adverbs of question and exclamation

An adverb of question is almost like a secret adverb. In fact, many people don’t know that question words are adverbs! They can be followed by est-ce que or subject-verb inversion to ask a question.

Combien (how much/how many)

Combien d’argent as-tu ?
(How much money do you have?)

Comment (how)

Comment est-ce qu’il a cuisiné le dîner ?
(How did he cook the dinner?)

(where)

Où se trouvent les toilettes ?
(Where is the bathroom?)

Pourquoi (why)

Pourquoi est-ce que vous riez ?
(Why are you all laughing?)

Quand (when)

Quand commence la classe ?
(When does the class start?)

Que (what)

Que faisons-nous ?
(What are we doing?)

Qui (who)

Qui aime le gâteau ?
(Who likes cake?)

An adverb of exclamation—or simply an exclamation—are words that show extreme emotion. These can show anger, shock, sadness or relief.

Comme (how)

Comme c’est facile!
(How easy it is!)

Que (how)

Que c’est beau !
(How beautiful it is!)

Quoi (what)

Quoi ! Il est mort ?
(What! He’s dead?)

Relative and comparative adverbs

Relative adverbs are tricky ones. Sometimes, they’re question words, and while they mean the same thing as question words, they’re not necessarily asking a question. Instead, relative adverbs join two clauses—or two independent thoughts—to create a single sentence.

Combien (how much/how many)

Je ne sais pas combien d’argent il a reçu.
(I don’t know how much money he received.)

Comment (how)

Il sait comment conduire.
(He knows how to drive.)

(where)

Elle va elle veut.
(She goes where she wants.)

Pourquoi (why)

Nous ne savons pas pourquoi le magasin est fermé.
(We don’t know why the store is closed.)

Quand (when)

Ils viendront quand ils peuvent.
(They will come when they can.)

Que (that)

La livre que je lis est fantastique.
(The book that I am reading is fantastic.)

Qui (that, who)

La fille qui porte la chemise bleue est belle.
(The girl who wears the blue shirt is beautiful.)

A comparative adverb is an easier one to understand: it compares two or more things. Oftentimes, these adverbs come in two parts with the word que (than) joining the things being compared.

Aussi … que (as… as)

Le lac est aussi grand que la ville.
(The lake is as big as the city.)

Moins … que (less… than)

Le film est moins intéressant que le livre.
(The movie is less interesting than the book.)

Plus … que (more… than)

La voiture est plus rapide que le bateau.
(The car is faster than the boat.)

How to Form French Adverbs

Like English, French allows adjectives to become adverbs by adding a suffix.

In English, that suffix is “ly.” For example, we can take the adjective “obvious” and turn it into the adverb “obviously” by adding the suffix “-ly.”

The same is true for French. By adding the suffix -ment, French speakers can transform adjectives into adverbs. For example:

confortable (comfortable) → confortablement (comfortably)

malheureuse (unfortunate) → malheureusement (unfortunately)

Rules for transforming adjectives into adverbs:

1. If the adjective finishes with a vowel, simply add the suffix -ment.

facile (easy) → facilement (easily)

2. If the adjective ends in a consonant, you must add the suffix -ment to the feminine form of the adjective. For example:

réel (real) → réelle (real-feminine form) → réellement (really)

3. If the adjective finishes with -ent or -ant, you simply remove those letters and instead add -emment or -amment respectively. Like so:

évident (evident) → évidemment (evidently)

brillant (brilliant) → brillamment (brilliantly)

However, keep in mind that there are a few exceptions.

The adverb form of the adjective bon is bien, and other irregular adverbs include gentiment (nicely) from the adjective gentil (nice) and brièvement (briefly) from the adjective bref (brief).

French Adverb Placement

Where to place French adverbs that modify verbs

In English, adverb placement can be pretty complicated. French adverb placement is generally simpler.

Here’s one general rule that usually applies: French adverbs go after the conjugated verb they modify.

Simple tenses

A simple tense only has one verb in the phrase. In this case, the adverb goes right after the verb it modifies. 

For example:

Je lis souvent.
(I read often.)

The adverb souvent (often) comes after the main, conjugated verb lis (read).

Compound tenses

A compound tense is when a phrase consists of a main verb and an auxiliary verb like être (to be), avoir (to have) or aller (to go).

In these cases, the adverb goes after the first conjugated verb.

For example:

J’ai beaucoup dormi.
(I slept a lot.)

Here the adverb beaucoup comes after the conjugated auxiliary verb ai and before dormi.

There is some leeway, however. For longer adverbs, such as ones that end in -ment, the adverb can be placed after the first verb. For example:

Je suis allé(e) rapidement à l’école.
(I went quickly to school.)

Where to place French adverbs that modify adjectives

In English, adverbs usually come in front of the adjectives they modify (“I read very long books”).

In French, when an adverb modifies an adjective or another adverb, it is also placed in front of the word it modifies:

Tous les voyageurs que je connais sont vraiment sympas.
(All of the travelers I know are truly nice.)

The adverb vraiment comes before the adjective sympas, which it modifies.

Le film était trop bizarre pour moi.
(The film was too weird for me.)

The adverb trop comes before the adjective it modifies: bizarre.

Where to place French adverbs that modify other adverbs

When an adverb modifies another adverb, it goes before that adverb.

This is demonstrated in the following French sentence:

Il danse très mal.
(He dances very poorly.)

In our example, both the words très and mal are adverbs.

Mal is letting us know that the manner in which the person dances is bad. Next, to show just how badly they dance, we add très.

Très goes before mal because it is modifying it in our example.

Where to place French adverbs that modify clauses

If your adverb is modifying the entire clause—in other words, the entire thought—it often comes at the beginning of the sentence.

Let’s look at an example:

Souvent nous mangeons à ce restaurant.
(Often, we eat at this restaurant.)

In this example, the adverb is telling us that the speakers eat at that restaurant frequently. So it modifies the entire clause by coming at the beginning of that clause.

This may sound a little backward for English speakers, but it is quite a common occurrence in French.

One French Adverb Mishap to Avoid: Bon vs. Bien

Adverbs can be very similar to their equivalent verbs, which can lead to mix-ups between the two.

Perhaps the most confusing pair among French adverbs and adjectives are bon (good) and bien (well).

Bon is an adjective meaning “good. Therefore, bon only modifies nouns.

For example, we could say “le bon garçon” to mean “the good boy.” Garçon is a noun, modified by the adjective bon. It would be incorrect to use bien in this situation.

The word bien is an adverb. So it can only modify verbs or adjectives.

We could say “tu parles bien français” to mean “you speak French well.” Parles is a verb, and the adverb bien modifies it. It would be incorrect to use bon in this situation.

The same set-up goes for the adjective mauvais (bad) and the adverb mal (bad; poorly). While (similar to bon and bien) these words can be used as nouns in certain cases, mauvais is most often an adjective and modifies nouns.

Il a de mauvais résultats.
(He has bad results.)

Mal is most often an adverb and modifies a verb.

J’ai mal mangé.
(I didn’t eat well.)

 

So, there you have it: Your simple guide to learning adverbs easily.

Just to make sure you have it down, try some practice quizzes. Lawless French has some great ones, as do the University of Texas and Soft Schools.

Until next time, study fiercely!

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