Some people are afraid of the dark.
Some are afraid of spiders.
But there are other things that send chills down language students’ spines.
Do you run in the other direction when you hear the word “adverbs?”
If so, don’t be embarrassed.
Unless you are an English teacher, writer or linguist, chances are you may not even know what the word itself means.
And even if the word sounds familiar from your classes in childhood, it may have slipped away after years of speaking your native language without even thinking about its grammatical structure.
When learning a second language, once you know how to clearly identify parts of speech, it all starts to look like less of a jumbled mess of words you don’t understand.
Have no fear. You are not alone and I have got you covered. It is time for a little refresher to learn all about a part of Spanish grammar that will help clear up the language a bit.
Adverb Phobia? Learn Spanish Adverbs Quickly with These Simple Tips
What Are Adverbs?
Understanding adverbs can significantly advance your grasp of a language.
If you want to describe where something is, you will probably need an adverb.
If you need to describe the direction something is moving in, or to indicate the frequency, fashion, speed, intensity or perspective of something, you probably need an adverb.
These words are everywhere, and there are even a couple in this very sentence!
Adverbs are the words that are used to modify other words in a sentence, and these other words are most often verbs (action words), adjectives (descriptive words) and sometimes other adverbs.
So as a basic explanation, this group of words is used mostly for giving extra details about what exactly is happening in a sentence.
In Spanish, this same concept for adverbs applies. Just like in English, there are dozens of them that come in a variety of categories, which we will get into a few scrolls down.
But don’t stress about how many there are. Quite a few of these adverbs are formed in a similar pattern to words you probably already know, which will make them fairly easy to recognize.
How to Recognize Many Adverbs in Spanish
When you think of adverbs in English, you may think first of all of those words that end in “-ly.”
A very similar trick can be used to make adverbs in the Spanish language. These words just end with the suffix “-mente.”
Here are a few examples:
- accidentalmente (accidentally)
- hermosamente (beautifully)
- constantemente (constantly)
The process for creating these adverbs is quite easy:
First, take an adjective.
(This cannot be done with every adjective in Spanish, just as it cannot be done with every one in English, but it will work with a substantial portion of them. For example, you wouldn’t say something is “purple-ly” or “fun-ly.”)
Second, if the adjective is not already feminine, it must be changed to its feminine form if it has one.
Remember that not all adjectives have an exclusively feminine form, so sometimes it will just remain as it is.
For example, claro (clear) will change to clara, and alegre (happy) will not have to change.
Third, add “-mente” to the end of the adjective.
- claramente (clearly)
- alegremente (happily)
And one more way that adverbs can be made is by using the word con (with) + the noun that describes the verb.
- con alegría (with happiness)
- con claridad (with clarity)
Knowing these two formations along with a few adjectives will knock out a large part of learning adverbs in Spanish for you already.
But as in English, there are still some adverbs in Spanish outside of these two formations.
While these will each just have to be memorized, chances are you’ve already seen them quite a bit as they are everywhere in the Spanish language.
50 of the Most Common Adverbs in Spanish
There are quite a few reasons you will need adverbs in a sentence, so there are many different categories that they fall under.
Here are some adverbs that will help you describe the place, the frequency, the manner, the degree and the time of an occurrence.
While you can find more outside of these categories, these include many adverbs that are very frequently used and that you may encounter in almost every sentence in Spanish!
Adverbios de lugar (Adverbs of place):
en algún lugar (somewhere)
en ninguna parte (nowhere)
en todas partes (everywhere)
enfrente (in front)
Adverbios de frecuencia (Adverbs of frequency):
a veces (sometimes)
rara vez (rarely)
a menudo (often)
Adverbios de modalidad (Adverbs of manner):
Adverbios de grado (Adverbs of degree):
poquito (little bit)
bastante (enough; quite; quite a lot)
Adverbios de tiempo (Adverbs of time):
esta noche (tonight)
anoche (last night)
Does that feel like a lot? It can help to split up words by themes (like we did) and try to find the English words hiding inside them (like the word “annual” in anualmente).
Another great way to learn adverbs is through authentic videos, and you can find plenty of these on FluentU.
How to Use Adverbs in Sentences
Luckily, this part is not going to give you too much of a headache.
While the syntax in Spanish can get confusing in some areas, the basics of how to use adverbs is definitely not the worst of learning grammar.
Using adverbs is actually not very much different than using them in English.
Since adverbs are used for modifying other words in the sentence, it only makes sense that they will almost always be located next to the word in the sentence that they are modifying.
Here are the three situations in which adverbs are used in Spanish and how they are used to make sentences:
First is perhaps the most common way adverbs are used, which is to modify verbs.
These adverbs describe how an action is being done, and are usually located directly before or after the verb itself.
- Él corre rápidamente. (He runs quickly.)
- Ella pacientemente esperó. (She patiently waited.)
Adverbs are also used to modify adjectives, which modify nouns. They most often tell us about the frequency or degree of the adjective, and are usually located directly before the adjective they are modifying.
- El servicio es usualmente bueno. (The service is usually good.)
- El norte es increíblemente frío. (The North is incredibly cold.)
And what is the third and last part of speech adverbs can modify?
The answer is: other adverbs!
Adverbs that complement other adverbs are usually located directly before the adverb they are modifying.
- La mujer sonrió muy alegremente. (The woman smiled very happily.)
- El lugar está bastante lejos. (The place is quite far.)
If you want to get super descriptive of a verb and use two adverbs, only one will use the standard form for adverbs. The first adverb in the sentence will stay as an adjective in its feminine form and only the second will use the “-mente” suffix.
- Ella habla lenta y suavemente. (She speaks slowly and gently.)
Adverbs that show point of view usually go at the beginning of a sentence. Just remember that it is the same as the way we do it in English.
- Personalmente, no lo disfruto. (Personally, I don’t enjoy it.)
Additional Resources and Practice
There are tons of resources available for you to further your knowledge and comprehension of this subject.
And the best part is most of them are free and online right now!
Here are a few suggestions to get started:
Watch lectures online.
- The YouTube channel Butterfly Spanish gives you the classroom vibe and teaches a wide variety of topics in Spanish, including adverbs. It even accepts suggestions from its viewers for what to teach next!
- Study Spanish has some adverb quizzes available, not only for reading and writing but also for listening and speaking.
Read short stories or passages in Spanish.
- The website Cuentos Breves (Short Stories) is a great place to find a wide variety of short and sweet stories in Spanish.
- There is also a free online international library of lower-level books of all types in both in Spanish and English.
Now it is time to give yourself a pat on the back. Well done on getting this far! Hopefully now you can use adverbs in Spanish easily and correctly. Happy studies and buena suerte! (Good luck!)
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