Adverbs are words that describe or modify verbs, adjectives or other adverbs. In English, we often form adverbs by adding -ly to an adjective (as in careful, carefully). In French, many adverbs are formed by adding -ment to the feminine form of an adjective. Here are some examples:
facile: facilement – easily
heureuse: heureusement – happily
finale: finalement – finally.
Sometimes adverbs are formed by adding -ment to the masculine form of the adjective, when the last letter of the adjective is a vowel, for example:
poli: poliment – politely
vrai: vraiment – truly
absolu: absolument – absolutely.
If the masculine form of an adjective ends in -ant, this ending changes to -amment to form the adverb:
constant: constamment – constantly
puissant: puissamment – powerfully.
Similarly, masculine adjectives ending in -ent change this ending to -emment to form the adverb:
évident: évidemment – evidently
fréquent: fréquemment – frequently
One common exception to this rule is lent: lentement – slowly.
Some adverbs do not follow these rules and are irregular in form. Here are some of the most common ones:
bon (good): bien – well
mal (bad): mauvais – badly
petit (small, little): peu (little) (For example, il mange peu – he eats little.)
gentil: gentiment – nicely.
In some cases, the adverb is exactly the same as the masculine singular adjective, for example:
fort – loudly, strongly
dur – hard (for example, to work hard – travailler dur)
clair – clearly.
With thanks to Elizabeth Allen
Learn French with FrenchEntrée
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