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French Adverbials of Frequency
French Adverbs: Definition
While adjectives add information about nouns, adverbs are used to add meaning to a verb, an adjective, another adverb or a whole sentence. Contrary to French adjectives that agree in gender and number with the noun they relate to, French adverbs are invariable, which means they never change.
Adverbs are divided into different categories determined by the type of information they provide. As you might have guessed, adverbs of frequency and time provide information on when, how often, or for long an action takes place.
Adverbs of Time
There are many French adverbs of time. To help you learn them, we will divide them into four different categories: adverbs of time past, time present, time future and adverbs about a specific moment in time relative to another moment (this will become clearer as we get there).
Adverbs of Time Past
Adverbs of time past indicate the event has taken place in the past, whether recently or a long time ago. Logically, they are usually used in sentences in the past tense.
Here is a table listing some adverbs of time past from most recent to most ancient:
|Tout à l’heure
||the day before yesterday
||in the past, in the old days
||in the old days
Il est sorti à l’instant.
Ils ont déménagé récemment.
Autrefois, j’avais les cheveux bruns. In the past
, I used to have brown hair.
Jadis, les enfants ne regardaient pas la télévision. In the old days
, children did not watch television.
Adverbs of Time Present
|Tout de suite
|En ce moment
Aujourd’hui nous allons à la plage! Today
we are going to the beach!
Je dois préparer le dîner maintenant.
I have to prepare dinner now
Rendez-moi mon argent tout de suite.
Give me back my money right now
Adverbs of Time Future
|Tout à l’heure
||the day after tomorrow
||from now on
||as soon as/right away
Note that tout à l’heure
can either refer to an event that just happened, or an event that will happen very soon, and can either mean earlier today
or later today
What can an adverb modify?
The adverb can modify a verb, an adjective or another adverb. It can also relate to the whole sentence, telling you what the speaker is thinking or feeling. In other words, it can modify almost everything, except a noun
(which is modified by an adjective)
- a verb: Je regarde (verb) souvent (adv) la télé.
- an adjective: Je suis vraiment (adv) touché (adj).
- Another adverb: Nous avons très (adv) bien (adv) mangé
- A whole sentence: Malheureusement (adv), je ne l’ai pas trouvé. (sentence)
How to form a regular adverb from an adjective?
Although there are many adverbs that do not have the ending –ment, this ending is undoubtedly an important category of adverbs. Let’s get through the general rules:
- If the adjective ends with a vowel, add –ment to the adjective to form the adverb:
absolu ==> absolument
poli ==> poliment
- If the adjective ends with a consonant, change it to the feminine form (to get the “e” at the end) and then add -ment:
normal ==> normale ==> normalement
éventuel ==> éventuelle ==> éventuellement