How to make adverbs from adjectives in French grammar

Forming adverbs in French

In French, many adverbs can be formed directly from adjectives. We can recognise such adverbs by their ending -ment, which is comparable to the English adverbial ending -ly.

Learn how to transform adjectives into adverbs in French grammar with Lingolia’s quick and easy examples, then put your knowledge to the test in the free exercises.

Example

Charlotte était sagement assise sur une chaise et mangeait tranquillement une glace. Elle venait de commencer à manger depuis seulement deux minutes et trouvait sa glace réellement très bonne. Elle savourait vraiment sa glace.

Ainsi, Charlotte ne vit l'araignée qui descendait lentement derrière elle que trop tard. L'araignée descendait apparemment le long d'un fil. Au début, Charlotte eut énormément peur et elle réagit confusément. Mais ensuite elle vit que l'araignée se conduisait bien et qu'elle ne lui ferait certainement pas de mal. Elle décida donc de réagir gentiment et de ne pas chasser l'araignée. Finalement Charlotte continua de manger sa glace et l'araignée de descendre le long du fil.

How to make an adverb from an adjective?

  • To make an adverb, we usually take the feminine form of the adjective and add the ending -ment.
    Example:
    seul, seule → seulementalone – only
    Charlotte venait de commencer à manger sa glace depuis seulement deux minutes. Charlotte had only just started eating her ice cream two minutes ago.
  • Adjectives that end in -ant and -ent construct their adverbs with -amment and -emment.
    Examples:
    apparent → apparemmentapparent – apparently
    L’araignée descendait apparemment le long d’un fil.The spider was apparently climbing down a thread.
    constant → constammentconstant – constantly
    L’araignée descendait constamment le long d’un fil.The spider was constantly climbing down a thread.

Exceptions

  • Some adjectives whose masculine form ends in -e construct their adverb with -ément.
    Example:
    énorme → énormémentenormous – enormously
    Charlotte eut énormément peur.Charlotte was enormously scared.
  • Some adjectives whose masculine forms do not end in -e also construct their adverb with -ément.
    Example:
    confus, confuse → confusémentconfused – confusedly
    Charlotte réagit confusément.Charlotte reacted confusedly.
  • Some adverbs are not constructed using the feminine form of the adjective.
    Example:
    vrai, vraie → vraimenttrue – truly
    Elle savourait vraiment sa glace.She was truly enjoying her ice-cream.
  • Two exceptions ending in -ent do not construct their adverb with -emment.
    Examples:
    lent, lente → lentementslow – slowly
    Charlotte ne vit pas l’araignée qui descendait lentement le long du fil.Charlotte didn’t see the spider that was slowly crawling down the thread.
    présent, présente → présentementpresent – presently, at that moment
    Charlotte ne vit pas l’araignée qui descendait présentement le long du fil.Charlotte didn’t see the spider that was crawling down the thread at that moment.
  • Some adjectives have completely different adverb forms.
Masculine Adjective Feminine Adjective Adverb
gentil gentillenice, kind gentimentnicely, kindly
bref brèvebrief brièvementbriefly
bon bonnegood bienwell
mauvais mauvaisebad malbadly