French Grammar For Dummies
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Most French adverbs of manner are derived from an adjective. For example, lent (slow) gives the adverb lentement (slowly). To form an adverb of manner, take the feminine singular form of the adjective (built from the masculine singular form) and add -ment to it. You follow this rule even for adjectives that have an irrregular feminine form, like mou (limp), attentif (attentive), sot (silly), and doux (soft).

From Adjective to Adverb
Masculine Adjective Feminine Form French Adverb English Translation
attentif attentive attentivement attentively
discret discrète discrètement discreetly
doux douce doucement softly
fin fine finement finely
franc franche franchement frankly/openly
heureux heureuse heureusement fortunately
lent lente lentement slowly
long longue longuement at length/a long time
mou molle mollement limply/half-heartedly
naturel naturelle naturellement naturally
nouveau nouvelle nouvellement newly
parfait parfaite parfaitement perfectly
sot sotte sottement in a silly way
timide timide timidement timidly

Check out a few adverbs of manner here:

Parle-moi franchement. (Speak to me frankly.)
Écoutons attentivement. (Let’s listen attentively.)
Elle nous a serré la main mollement. (She shook our hands limply.)
C’est une épave nouvellement découverte. (It’s a newly discovered shipwreck.)
Ils ont attendu longuement. (They waited a long time.)

A handful of adjectives are used as adverbs in specific expressions without adding -ment. The meaning of these adverbs is slightly different from the adjective itself, and they don’t agree in gender or number with anything. The most common ones are

  • bas (low), as in the expression parler bas (to speak softly)

  • bon (good), as in sentir bon (to smell good)

  • cher (expensive), as in coûter cher (to cost a lot)

  • clair (clear), as in voir clair (to see clearly)

  • dur (hard), as in travailler dur (to work hard)

  • faux (false), as in chanter faux (to sing out of pitch)

  • fort (strong), as in parler fort (to speak loud)

  • heureux (happy), as in ils vécurent heureux jusqu’à la fin (they lived happily ever after)

  • juste (just), as in chanter juste (to sing in tune)

  • mauvais (bad), as in sentir mauvais (to smell bad)

About This Article

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Véronique Mazet has a doctorate in French from the University of Texas at Austin and is the author of two successful grammar books. She currently teaches French at Austin Community College in Austin, Texas.

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