Position of Adverbs

Going back to basics this week in terms of grammar.

Adverbs Qualifying Verbs

An adverb qualifying a verb in one of the simple tenses, ex.: the present, future, imperfect, or present conditional, should follow the verb.

  • Ils s’arrêtèrent brièvement. | They stopped briefly.
  • Ils arriveront inévitablement en retard. | They will inevitably arrive late.

Adverbs of place and other longer adverbs qualifying a verb in one of the compound tenses, ex.: the perfect, pluperfect, future perfect, or conditional perfect, follow the past participle.

  • Nous sommes restés ailleurs. | We stayed elsewhere.
  • Mon frère l’aurait écrit lisiblement. | My brother would have written it legibly.

Other, shorter adverbs usually come immediately before the past participle in compound tenses.

  • Je n’aurais jamais bien compris. | I should never have understood properly.
  • L’avait-elle déjà oublié ? | Hd she already forgotten it?

In all these cases, the adverb must not separate the subject and verb/auxiliary verb.

  • Nous avons demandé l’addition aussitôt. | We immediately asked for the bill.

Adverbs such as apparemment, assurément, heureusement, malheureusement, naturellement, peut-être, probablement may occur either in the regular position in relation to the verb, or (for emphasis) at the beginning of the sentence + que.

  • Il ne m’a rien dit, naturellement. | He said nothing to me, naturally.
  • Naturellement qu’il ne m’a dit rien.

Adverbs Qualifying Adjectives, Other Adverbs or Adverbial Phrases

Adverbs usually immediately precede the adjectives, other adverbs or adverbial phrases which they qualify.

  • Vous êtes parfaitement conscient de ce que vous faites ? | Are you perfectly well aware of what you are doing?
  • La voiture démarra très lentement. | The car started up very slowly.
  • Il faut revoir les chiffres, surtout à court terme. | We must review the figures, especially in the short term.

Adverbs Introducing or Qualifying a Whole Sentence

An adverb usually stands at the beginning of a sentence if it introduces or qualifies the whole sentence. This position adds emphasis to the adverb.

  • Malheureusement, je n’avais pas vérifié son adresse. | Unfortunately, I hadn’t checked his/her address.
  • Surtout, il faut se garder de réagir trop vite. | Above all, we must take care not to react too hastily.

Similarly, an adverb which provides a link with the previous statement will normally occur at the beginning of the sentence.

  • Le nouveau curé était très apprécié. Pourtant, il y avait des détracteurs. | The new priest was very well thought of. However, there were those who criticized him.

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

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5 thoughts on “Position of Adverbs

    • You’re very welcome! And thank you! I am actually not a French teacher. I majored in it at university, and speaking it and teaching others is my passion. I actually have a fear of public speaking, so I could never be a proper teacher.

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