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Adverbs in French: les adverbes

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What is an adverb ?

An adverb is a word you add to the verb (ADD-VERB) to give some information about this verb.

For example:

I walk > How do I walk? I walk rapidly.
Je marche > Comment je marche? Je marche rapidement.
Rapidement is the adverb.

Sometimes, the adverb adds an information to an adjective or another adverb. It’s not so important for you to know that.

How do we build it?

In English, most of the adverbs end with  »ly » like rapidly.
In French, most of the adverbs end with  »ment » like rapidement.

In that regard, many adverbs are quite similar in French and English, here are some examples:
– extremely: extrêmement
– dangerously: dangereusement
– totally: totalement
– completely: complètement
– entirely : entièrement
– remarkably : remarquablement
– terribly : terriblement
– generally : généralement
– especially : spécialement
– largely: largement
– simply: simplement
– personally: personnellement
– probably: probablement

Etc. there are a lot.
So if you don’t know an adverb in French, you can still try to use the English adverb, replacing -ly by -ment, and see if the person understands

Other type of adverbs

There is some other very frequent adverbs that don’t follow this rule.
Usually, we like to classify them into categories. The main categories are:

Adverbs of location

Ex : ici (here)

Adverbs of time

Ex : maintenant (now)

Adverbs of frequency

Ex : toujours (always)

Adverbs of quantity

Ex : beaucoup (a lot)

Adverbs od manner

Ex : bien (well)

Adverbs of logic (linking words, cause, consequence, concession or opposition)

Ex : cependant (however)

You can imagine that each category needs its own video, and I’ll do them, starting with the location adverbs that are needed from the beginner level. And you will learn all these adverbs step by step, in context.
I’ll give you more examples of these kinds of adverbs in the document below this video.

Ok! So if you are a beginner student, you can stop the video here, you have enough information to be able to progress. Try to make some sentences with some adverbs and publish them in the comments.

If you are more advanced and you want to go deeper in the understanding of the adverbs, we’ll do that now.

Construction of the -ment adverbs

I told you that a lot of adverbs use the ending -ment. But what do we put before the ending -ment?

Case 1

Usually it’s the feminine form of the adjective.
You remember that we have studied the adjective and that there is a masculine and a feminine form, contrary to the English.
So, to form the adverb, you use the feminine adjective and you add -ment.

Masculine adjective Feminine adjective Adverb
certain certaine certainement
heureux heureuse heureusement

Sometimes you need to add an accent (so the pronunciation changes a bit):

Masculine adjective Feminine adjective Adverb
précis précise précisément
profond profonde profondément

Exception:

Masculine adjective Feminine adjective Adverb
gentil gentille gentiment

Case 2

The masculine ends with a vowel, so we keep the masculine to form the adverb :

Masculine adjective Feminine adjective Adverb
vrai vraie vraiment
absolu absolue absolument
rapide rapide rapidement / vite

Sometimes you need to add an accent (so the pronunciation changes a bit):

Masculine adjective Feminine adjective Adverb
énorme énorme énormément
intense intense intensément

It’s almost the same rule as before, we just want to keep the alternance of consonant and vowels sounds, typical of the French language. As we already have the vowel at the end of the masculine so we don’t need the feminine before -ment.

Case 3

This concerns the adjectives ending with -ent or -ant. In that case the adverb is slightly different.
When the adjective ends with -ent or -ant, we remove this syllable and we replace it by -emment and -amment that are both pronounced [amã].
For example:

Masculine adjective Adverb Pronunciation
fréquent fréquemment [fré ka mã]
évident évidemment [é vi da mã]
suffisant suffisamment [su fi za mã]

Exception:

Masculine adjective Feminine adjective Adverb
lent lente lentement

Lent follows the case 1.

Here is an example of text with a lot of adverbs:

Je marche rapidement dans la rue. Les voiture roulent très vite et les vélos (roulent) lentement. J’ai vraiment besoin de faire une pause. Je m’arrête immédiatement dans un café et je commande poliment un thé et un croissant. Je mange tranquillement et je repars calmement.

Voilà! It’s finished, if you have any question don’t hesitate to ask it in the comments.