French Grammar For Dummies
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Depending on whether they modify a verb, an adverb, or an adjective, French adverbs move around quite a bit in the sentence. In English, adverbs are sometimes placed right after the subject of the verb, like she often sings. In French, you can never place the adverb after the subject.

Place French adverbs with verbs in a simple tense

When an adverb modifies a verb conjugated in a simple tense, the adverb follows the verb. Here are examples of the adverb placed after the verb:

Je mange rarement au restaurant. (I rarely eat in a restaurant.)
Il conduit vite. (He drives fast.)
Vous travaillez dur. (You work hard.)
Ils aiment beaucoup aller au cinéma. (They really like to go to the movies.)

You often find long adverbs at the end of a sentence, even if it means separating it from the conjugated verb. For example: Vous écoutez le professeur attentivement. (You are listening to the professor attentively.)

Place French adverbs with verbs in the near future tense

When an adverb modifies a verb conjugated in the futur proche (near future), which consists of the verb aller (to go) + infinitive, the adverb follows aller, which is the conjugated verb. For example:

Tu vas probablement t’ennuyer. (You are probably going to be bored.)
Il va sûrement gagner la course. (He is surely going to win the race.)

Place French adverbs with verbs in a compound tense

When an adverb modifies a verb conjugated in a compound tense like the passé composé (present perfect), the adverb usually follows the past participle of the verb. (The passé composé is made up of a conjugated form of the auxiliary être [to be] or avoir [to have] + the past participle of the verb.) For example:

Il s’est rasé rapidement. (He shaved quickly.)
Elle s’est habillée élégamment. (She dressed elegantly.)

However, some very common adverbs (especially short ones) must go between the auxiliary and the past participle, like this:

Tu as bien travaillé. (You worked well.)
Elle est vite partie. (She left quickly.)
Ils ont beaucoup aimé le film. (They liked the movie a lot.)
Quelqu’un a mal fermé la porte. (Someone closed the door badly.)

The adverbs that follow this pattern include: vite (quickly), bien (well), mal (badly), déjà (already), for the short ones, and beaucoup (much), probablement (probably), tellement (so much), vraiment (really), and toujours (always) for the long ones.

Place French adverbs with adjectives and other adverbs

Adverbs that modify an adjective or another adverb come before those. Easy, right? Here are some examples:

Tu es mal coiffé. (Your hair looks terrible.)
Il est vraiment petit. (He is really short.)
Elle chante très bien. (She sings very well.)

Where to place certain French adverbs of time

Adverbs of time that express specific days and times like aujourd’hui (today), demain (tomorrow), hier (yesterday), tôt (early), and tard (late) usually sit at the end of a sentence. Here are some examples:

Nous nous sommes levés tard. (We got up late.)
Je ferai du sport demain. (I will play sports tomorrow.)

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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