Function of Adverbs
Adverbs are words or phrases which modify a verb or an adjective, giving information about place, time, manner, degree or frequency.
Check the two examples below to understand what this means:
He is really kind. Il est vraiment gentil.
We regularly go to the swimming-pool. Nous allons régulièrement à la piscine.
Here, really and regularly are adverbs. In the first example, the adverb modifies the adjective by giving information about the degree. In the second example, the adverb modifies the verb by giving information about frequency.
Note that adverbs are invariable. This means that their form does not change, no matter what they refer to.
In this article, we will focus on French adverbs ending in -ment
Formation of Adverbs ending in -ment
Just as many English adverbs end in -ly (clearly, gently), many French adverbs end in -ment.
To structure this type of adverbs in French, take the feminine singular form of an adjective and add -ment at the end.
See the table below for examples:
Il l'a clairement fait. He clearly did it.
Ils vont au restaurant quotidiennement. They go to the restaurant daily.
In most instances, adverbs can be structured from the feminine form of the adjective, but there are variations depending on the adjective. We will cover these below.
Adverbs in -ment derived from the masculine adjective form
When an adjective ends in -i, -é or -u, the adverb is structured using the masculine form of the adjective (instead of the feminine form seen above).
absolu becomes absolument
aisé becomes aisément
vrai becomes vraiment
Exception for gai, which becomes gaiement.
Adverbs ending in -emment and -amment
When an adjective ends in -ent and -ant, the adverb ends in -emment and -amment respectively.
constant becomes constamment
apparent becomes apparemment
abondant becomes abondamment
Exception for lent, which becomes lentement.
Note that for adverbs ending in -emment, the -e is pronounced like an -a.
Adverbs ending in -ément
A small number of adjective ending in -e (either from the feminine form or because they always end in -e), lead to adverb ending in -ément.
énorme becomes énormément
intense becomes intensément
précis, which is précise in the feminine form becomes précisément
Position of adverbs in -ment
In both English and French, if the adverb modifies an adjective, it is placed before the adjective itself.
However, when an adverb modifies a verb, the adverb can have several locations.
Manner, time, frequency and degree adverbs are usually located after the conjugated verb.
Tu dors profondément toute la nuit. You sleep soundly all night long.
Elle a soigneusement complété ses devoirs. She carefully completed her homework.
However, they can also appear at the end of a sentence.
Tu dors toute la nuit profondément.
Elle a complété ses devoirs soigneusement.
Adverbs which modify a sentence usually appear at the beginning.
Malheureusement, elle n'a pas réussi. Unfortunately, she didn't succeed.
Soudainement, ils nous ont attaqué. Suddenly, they attacked us.
Not all adverbs end in -ment and these will be covered in a separate article.
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