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Adverbs: Formation

1. Most adverbs can be formed from basic adjectival forms.

If the adjective ends in -e in the masculine form, simply add -ment; otherwise, add -ment to the feminine form of the adjective:

simple —> simplement
lent —> lente —> lentement

Some adverbs are irregular:

A. Many adjectives ending in -ant or -ent take the adverb ending -amment or -emment:

courant —> couramment
intelligent —> intelligemment
brillant —> brillamment

B. Other irregular forms are:

précis —> précisément
bon —> bien
mauvais —> mal
meilleur —> mieux
pire —> pis
bref —> brièvement
gentil —> gentiment

2. Some adverbs, used in certain expressions, retain their adjectival form:

chanter faux (to sing off-key)
voler haut, bas (to fly high, low)
parler fort (to speak loudly)
travailler dur (to work hard)

3. Adverbs of time and place and quality are unrelated to adjectival forms:

hier (yesterday)
aujourd’hui (today)
tôt (soon)
tard (late)
ici (here)
là-bas (there)
moins (less)
plus (more)
aussi (as)
très (very)

Adverbs: Placement

Adverbs generally follow the verb they modify. In compound tenses long adverbs often follow the past participle. Short adverbs and certain very common adverbs (probablement, peut-être, gentiment, etc.) generally go between the auxiliary and the participle:

Il écrit mal. (He writes poorly.)
Elle a bien prononcé ce mot. (She pronounced that word well.)
Nous allons probablement passer l’été en Corse. (We are probably going to spend the summer in Corsica.)
Joseph a travaillé diligemment. (Joseph worked diligently.)

Adverbs of time or place (see Adverbs: Formation) generally go after the verb (or the past participle, if there is one). They also appear at the beginning or end of sentences:

Je l’ai vue hier. (I saw her yesterday.)
Aujourd’hui nous allons à la plage. (Today we’re going to the beach.)
Elle s’est couchée très tôt. (She went to bed very early.)

Related topic: Comparative / Superlative

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