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How to Make French Comparisons with Adverbs

By Veronique Mazet

French adverbs fit into comparisons as smoothly as English adverbs do. How did you do your work? Better than yesterday? More slowly? More gracefully? These sentences compare how a person does a particular thing, and they use adverbs; that’s what better, slowly, and gracefully are.

An adverb is a word that describes a verb, or how an action is done: well, poorly, gracefully, and so on. Adverbs are therefore invariable, so you don’t have to worry about making them agree in gender and number with anything.

Here are some common Frenchadverbs:

  • bien (well)

  • facilement (easily)

  • gentiment (kindly)

  • longtemps (a long time)

  • mal (poorly/badly)

  • précisément (precisely)

  • prudemment (prudently/cautiously)

  • rarement (rarely)

  • souvent (often)

  • tard (late)

  • vite (quickly)

To make a comparison using adverbs, follow these guidelines:

  • For a comparison of superiority, use this formula:

    • subject + verb + plus + adverb + que + second term of comparison

      For example: Il court plus vite que son adversaire. (He runs faster than his adversary.)

    The comparative of superiority of bien (well) is irregular. Say mieux instead of plus bien. For instance: Elle parle italien mieux que moi. (She speaks Italian better than me.) Also, English uses worse rather than more badly. French simply uses plus mal.

  • For a comparison of inferiority, use this formula:

    • subject + verb + moins + adverb + que + second term of comparison

      For example: Tu conduis moins prudemment que ta mère. (You drive less cautiously than your mother.)

  • For a comparison of equality, use this formula:

    • subject + verb + aussi + adverb + que + second term of comparison

      For example: Vous travaillez aussi bien que les autres. (You work as well as the others.)