How To Use French Adverbs — Complete Guide For Beginners

French adverbs are words that words which describe how the action of a verb is carried out. They offer information pertaining to who, what, where, when and how. For example, “Je parle bien” (I speak well). The word “bien” offers information about how I speak. This page will cover there kinds of adverbs: adverbs of manner, adverbs of time and adverbs of place.

Complete guide to French adverbs

French adjectives are related to adverbs. Unlike an adverb, which gives more information about a verb, adjectives give more information about nouns. This page covers the rules for French adjectives in detail.

Examples of sentences with adverbs

Before we get into details, let’s look at few quick sentences with adverbs, which are underlined.

  • Il parle honnêtement avec sa femme. He speaks honestly with his wife.
  • Je pose la question poliment. I ask the question politely.
  • Elle parle lentement. She speaks slowly.
  • C’est exactement ce que je veux dire! That’s exactly what I want to say!
Elle parle vite; She speaks quickly. Example of a French adverb.

1. Adverbs of Manner

Adverbs of manner offer more details about the verbs mentioned in a sentence. For example, “Elle parle vite” (She speaks quickly) or “Ils donnent généreusement” (They give generously). Adverbs of manner typically end in-ment in French and -ly in English.

Adverbs of manner tables

Many French adverbs of manner are formed by adding -ment to the feminine form of adjective.

MASCULINE ADJECTIVEFEMININE ADJECTIVEFRENCH ADVERBENGLISH
ameramèreamèrementbitterly
brefbrèvebrièvementbriefly
cherchère chèrementdearly, at a price
curieuxcurieusementcurieusementstrangly, oddly
douxdoucedoucement
durduredurement strongly, severely
fierfièrefièrementproudly
finfinefinementfinely, thinly
fortfortefortementvery much, a lot
foufollefollementcompletely, madly
heureuxheureuseheureusementfortunately
moumollemollementgently, half-heartedly
naïfnaïvenaïvementnaively, innocently
netnettenettementclearly
nulnullenullementin no way, by no means, not at all
sainsainesainementhealthily, well, properly
secsèchesèchementcurtly, coldly
seulseuleseulementonly
sûrsûresûrementmost likely, very probably
teltelletellementso, so much
vainvainevainementin vain, to no avail
vifvivevivementlively
égalégaleégalementequally

When a adjective ends in a vowel in the masculine form the adverb is formed simply by adding ment.

MASCULINE ADJECTIVEFRENCHENGLISH
absoluabsolumentabsolutely, completely
ampleamplementlargely, abundantly
avareavarementmiserly
bravebravementbravely, courageously
calmecalmementcalmly
carrécarrémentstraight, squarely
difficiledifficilementwith difficulty
drôledrôlementamusingly, strangely, extremely, very
facilefacilementeasily, with ease
fermefermementfirmly, solidly, steadfastly
forcéforcémentnecessarily, surely, certainly, inevitably
gaigaimenthappily, joyfully
honnêtehonnêtementhonestly
goulûgoulûmentgreedily, voraciously
gravegravementseriously, critically
jolijolimentprettily, nicely
justejustementexactly, precisely, justly, rightly
largementlargementto a great extent
librelibrementfreely
lâchelâchementin a cowardly way
noblenoblementnobly
polipolimentpolitely
quasiquasimentnearly, almost, practically
rarerarementrarely
ruderudementharshly, roughly
sincèresincèrementsincerely, genuinely, honestly
sobresobrementin moderation, modestly
tièdetièdementhalf-heartedly, unenthusiastically, tepidly
utileutilementusefully, helpfully
vaguevaguementindistinctly, vaguely
vraivraimenttruly, actually, really

When a masculine adjective ends in -ant or -ent, -ant gets replaced by -amment and -ent gets replaced by -emment.

MASCULINE ADJECTIVEADVERBENGLISH
abondantabondammentabundantly, plentifully
brillantbrillammentsuperbly
conscientconsciemmentconsciously, knowingly
constantconstammentconstantly
courantcourammentflunetly
diligentdiligemmentexpeditiously
dégoûtantdégoûtammentdisgustingly
excellentexcellemmentexcellently, very well
flagrantflagrammentobvious, evident, clear
fréquentfréquemmentfrequently
innocentinnocemmentinnocently
méchantméchammentspitefully, maliciously, badly
négligentnégligemmentcarelessly
patientpatiemmentpatiently
pesantpesammentheavily
plaisantplaisammentpleasantly
prudentprudemmentcarefully
précédentprécédemmentpreviously, earlier
puissantpuissammentpowerfully
ravissantravissammentdelighfuly
récentrécemmentrecently
savantsavammentwisely
suffisantsuffisammentenough
violentviolemmentviolently
étonnantétonnammentamazingly, astonishingly, surprisingly

Some adverbs are formed by adding -ément ot the end of the adjective.

  • aisé -> aisément easily, comfortably
  • sacré -> sacrément bloody (slang)
  • précis -> précisement exactly
  • énorme -> énormement enormously
  • privé -> privément privately
  • aveugle -> aveuglément blindly
  • décidé -> décidément resolutely

There are some very common adverbs which we use all the time that are irregular.

  • Elle parle bien. She speaks well.
  • Je chante mal. I sing poorly.
  • Je me sens mieux. I feel better.

Where to place adverb of manner

Generally speaking, adverbs of manner usually following the verb they modify.

  • Je fais du ski fréquemment. I ski often.
  • Je travaille assidûment. I work diligently.
  • Je réponds intelligemment aux questions de mes étudiants. I answer my students’ questions intelligently. 
Je fais du ski fréquemment. I ski often. Example of French adverb.

In the passé comosé short adverbs (e.g. bien, mal) come after the auxiliary verb and long adverbs follow the past participle.

Short adverbs:

  • J’ai bien joué la chanson. I played the song well.
  • Elle a mal chanté la chanson. She sang the song poorly.

Long adverbs:

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  • J’ai couru rapidement cet apres-midi. I ran fast this afternoon.
  • J’ai appris les adverbes français facilement! I learned the French adverbs easily!

Adverbs of manner – summary video from Alexa

Alexa on YouTube provides an excellent tutorial on French adverbs of manner.

2. Adverbs of time

Adverbs of time are used to expression when actions happen. There are also adverbial expressions of time.

FRENCHENGLISHFRENCHENGLISH
à l'heure actuelleright now, at this time, at the moment, currentlyenfinat last finally
actuellementat present, currentlyensuitnext, following that, and then
alorsthenhieryesterday
aprèsafterjamaisnever
après-demainthe day after tomorrowje jour mêmethe very day, on the very day
aujourd'huitodayl'avant veilletwo days before
auparavantpreviously, in the pastla dernière semainethe last week (in a sequence of weeks)
aussitôtimmediatelyla semaine dernièrelast week
autrefoispreviously, in the pastla semaine prochainenext week
avantbeforela semaine suivantethe following week
Avant-hierthe day before yesterdayla veillethe day before
bientôtsoonle surlendemaintwo days later, two days after
chaque jourevery daylongtempsfor a long time
d'abordat first, first of all, firstlymaintenantnow
d'habitudeusuallyn'importe quandwhenever
dans trois joursin three daysne + verb + jamaisnever
dans un anin one yearparfoissometimes
dans un moisin one monthprécédemmentpreviously, earlier
dans une quinzainein two weeksprésentementat present, currently (N. America only)
de bonne heureearlyquelquefoissometimes
de temps en tempsfrom time to timerarementrarely
déjàalreadyrécemmentrecently
demaintomorrowsouventoften
dernièrementrecently, lately tardlate
désormaisfrom now on, from this point forwardtôtearly
en ce momentcurrently, at this timetoujoursalways
encorestill, yet, againtous les jourseveryday
encore une foisagain, one more timetout à l'heurejust now, a bit earlier, in a while
un de ces joursone of these daystout de suiteright away
tout le tempsall the time

Placement of adverbs of time

The rules for placement of adverbs of time is not set in stone. Sometimes they follow the verb but sometimes they can come at the beginning of a sentence.

  • Maintenant je mange du fromage. I’m eating cheese now.
    Je mange du fromage maintenant.
  • Elle habite actuellement au Texas. She lives in Texas now.
    Actuellement elle habite au Texas.
  • Je travaille tout le temps en ce moment. I’m working all the time now.
    En ce moment je travaille tout le temps.
  • Auparavant je nageais tous les jours. I used to swim everyday.
    Je nageais tous les jours auparavant.

Example sentences with adverbs of time

The following are example sentences using adverbs of time.

  • Je me lève tôt mais tu te lèves tard. I get up early but you get up late.
  • Je dîne toujours avant 18h00. I always have dinner before 6.00pm.
  • Je nage rarement ces jours-ci. I rarely swim these days.
  • J’habite actuellement dans l’ouest des États-Unis. I’m currently living in the western United States.
  • Tu devrais faire du sport tous les jours. You should exercise every day.

The following video from YouLearnFrench summarizes adverbs of time.

3. Adverbs of place

Adverbs of place or location describe where an action occurs. For example, “Les enfants jouent dehors” (The children play outside) or “Je vais là-bas” (I’m going over there). The following list also includes some adverbial expressions.

The following table contains a comprehensive list of adverbs of place.

FRENCHENGLISH
à cet endroitin this place
à côténext to
à deux heures d'icitwo hours from here
à deux kilomètres d'icitwo kilometers from here
à droiteto/on the right
à gaucheto/on the left
ailleurselsewhere, somewhere else
auprèsnext to
autouraround
ça et làhere and there
d'ailleursbesides
dedansinside
dehorsoutside
derrièrebehind
dessousunder
dessusabove, over
devantin front of
en basdown, downstairs
en hautup, upstairs
icihere
there
Là-basover there
loinfar
n’importe oùanywhere
nulle partnowhere
nulle part ailleursnowhere else
partouteverywhere
partout ailleurseverywhere else
prèsnear
quelque partsomewhere
tout droitstraight ahead

Example sentences of adverbs of place

The following example sentences contain adverbs of place, which are all underlined.

  • Le chien est derrière la maison. The dog is behind the house.
  • Va ailleurs! Go somewhere else!
  • Le taxi tourne à droite. The taxi is taking a right.
  • Continue tout droit. Keep going straight ahead.
  • La voiture est devant la maison. The car is in front of the house.

The following video from YouLearnFrench summarizes adverbs of place:

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