Adverbs used Mainly in Colloquial Spoken French

This lesson is a bit like the last few lessons, but with more adverbs used colloquially. And as usual, I will indicate any faux ami.

(tout) bêtement – (quite) simply

  • Il avait tout bêtement oublié de leur téléphoner.
  • He’d quite simply forgotten to call them.

carrément – really /  honestly

  • Je ne peux carrément pas rester ce soir.
  • I honestly/really can’t stay this evening.

drôlement – not half

  • Il est drôlement fort !
  • He isn’t half strong!

effectivement – precisely / quite right

  • Ça sera difficile à réparer. | Effectivement.
    • It’ll be difficult to repair. | Precisely.
  • Voilà effectivement ce que je voulais vous montrer.
    • That’s precisely what I wanted to show you.

justement – exactly / precisely [faux ami]

  • C’est ce qu’il nous faut, n’est-ce pas ? | Justement.
    • It’s what we need, isn’t it? | Exactly.
  • J’étais justement sur le point de partir.
    • I was precisely on the point of leaving.

largement – ample / plenty

  • Le petit déjeuner était largement suffisant.
    • Breakfast was plenty.
  • Il y a largement de la place.
    • There’s ample room

nettement – distinctly / far (used in comparisons)

  • Elle est nettement plus avancée que sa cousine.
  • She’s far more advanced than her cousin.

passablement – quite a lot

  • Il avait passablement voyagé pendant sa jeunesse.
  • He’d travelled quite a lot in his youth.

rudement – very / really [faux ami]

  • Vous vous débrouillez rudement bien.
  • You manage really well.

Enjoy your week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Adverbial Nuance – Standard Written & Spoken French (2/2)

Continuing from last week, here is part 2. Also note that any faux ami will be mentioned.

mûrement – more closely / at leisure (thinking over something)

  • J’ai mûrement réfléchi à votre proposition.
  • I’ve thought over your suggestion.

parallèlement – also / at the same time

  • Il travaille à l’hôtel le soir et poursuit parallèlement ses études.
  • He works at the hotel in the evenings, and is carrying on his studies at the same time.

ponctuellement – irregularly / from time to time [faux ami]

  • Cette troupe d’acteurs ne monte des pièces que ponctuellement.
  • This theatre company only stages performances from time to time.

proprement – literally, correctly (concerning definitions)

  • Ce bâtiment, proprement dit “Le Temple d’Adonis”, est plus connu sous le nom de “La Cachette”.
  • This building, whose correct name is “The Temple of Adonis”, is commonly known as “The Hideaway”.

scrupuleusement – thoroughly / precisely (of work done)

  • Elle a vérifié scrupuleusement tous nos comptes.
  • She checked all our accounts thoroughly.

sensiblement – noticeably / appreciably [faux ami]

  • La qualité des repas s’est sensiblement améliorée.
  • The meals have got noticeably better.

strictement – absolutely (usually with a negative)

  • Cette phrase ne veut strictement rien dire.
  • This sentence means absolutely nothing.

sûrement – certainly (with hypotheses, or a negative)

  • Il sera sûrement parti maintenant.
    • He’ll certainly have left by now. / He must have left by now.
  • Tu le feras ? | Will you do it?
    • Sûrement pas ! | Certainly not!

uniquement – only [faux ami]

  • J’ai accepté uniquement pour te faire plaisir.
  • It was only to please you that I accepted.

Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !


Adverbial Nuance – Standard Written & Spoken French (1/2)

Going off from last week’s lesson, adverb nuances in standard written and spoken French. This will be in two parts. And again, I will indicate any faux ami.

accessoirement – in addition

  • Il existe accessoirement deux piscines en plein air.
  • In addition there are two open-air/outdoor swimming pools.

actuellement – currently [faux ami]

  • Le nombre de chômeurs est actuellement en baisse.
  • The number of people unemployed is currently falling.

alternativement – alternately, by turns

  • Ils se relayaient pour garder les enfants alternativement.
  • They took turns looking after the children.

couramment – fluently, commonly

  • Tu parles le grec couramment ?
    • Do you speak Greek fluently?
  • C’est quelque chose qui se fait couramment en Egypte.
    • It’s something which is common practice/commonly done in Egypt.

définitivement – for good/definitively [faux ami]

  • Vous avez quitté Paris définitivement ?
  • Have you left Paris for good?

éventuellement – possibly [faux ami] (Can also be used to translate “might” or “may”.)

  • Tu auras éventuellement besoin d’argent ?
  • Might you need some money?

forcément – necessarily

  • Je ne viendrai pas forcément moi-même.
  • I shall not necessarily come myself.

globalement – all in all, overall

  • Les résultats ont été globalement positifs.
  • Overall the results have been positive.

inversement – conversely, alternatively

  • Si vous voulez rester ici, j’irai le chercher, ou inversement vous y irez et moi je resterai ici.
  • If you’d like to stay here, I’ll go and fetch him, or conversely you go and I’ll stay here.

Next week will be part 2! Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…


Adverbial Nuances – Formal Notices

Adverbs qualify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. In this lesson, we’re going to look at some common French adverbs which have particular nuances. There are cases in which the adjective from which the adverb is derived does not necessarily give the adverb’s idiomatic meaning. Then, there are a number of adverbs which are close in form to an English adverb, but slightly or notably different in meaning. Where these adverbs derive from an adjective which may be classed as a faux ami, and I will note which are a faux ami in the examples below.

Adverbs used primarily in formal notices

formellement – strictly [faux ami]

  • Il est formellement interdit de donner à manger aux animaux.
  • Feeding the animals is strictly forbidden.

incessamment – immediately

  • Toute personne non ressortissante de la C.E.E. doit se rendre incessamment au bureau de l’immigration.
  • All non-E.E.C. residents should report immediately to the immigration office.

instamment – urgently/expressly (associated with polite orders)

  • Les clients sont instamment priés de ne pas toucher aux objets exposés dans la vitrine.
  • Customers are expressly requested not to touch articles in the window.
  • Please do not touch articles in the window.

ultérieurement – later [faux ami]

  • Veuillez nous rappeler ultérieurement. (Recorded message)
  • Please call back later.

I will continue next week with more adverbial nuances. Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Adverbial Phrases of Manner Used to Replace Adverbs

When an adverb is three or more syllables in length, it can be cumbersome in a sentence. There is a tendency to avoid excessive use of long adverbs, replacing them by adverbial phrases.

To express the manner in which an action is performed, for example, you can use d’une façon + adjective or d’une manière + adjective.

  • Elle réussit d’une façon inévitable. | She inevitably succeeded.
  • Il le refusa d’une manière peu polie. | He rudely refused.

With verbs of speech, adverbs may be replaced by d’un ton + adjective or d’une voix + adjective.

  • Le capitaine lui parla d’un ton irrité. | The captain spoke to him irritably.
  • D’une voix douce, elle lui expliqua la vérité. | She gently explained the truth to him.

With reference to people’s facial expressions, adverbs may be replaced by d’un air + adjective.

  • Ils le regardèrent d’un air furieux. | They looked at him furiously.

Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !


Comparisons of Adjectives and Adverbs

How to Form the Comparative of Adjectives and Adverbs

In English, we have two ways of changing adjectives and adverbs from positive to comparative degree. Many of our most common adjectives and adverbs are changed by adding -er to them; i.e.: rich → richer; soon → sooner. Other adjectives and adverbs are made comparative by placing the words “more” (or “less”) in front of them, i.e.: beautiful → more beautiful; slowly → more/less slowly.

In French, comparatives are formed by placing plus (or moins) in front of the adjective or adverb, i.e.: riche → plus riche; vite → plus/moins vite.

How to Use the Comparative in French

  • Elle est plus jolie que sa sœur. | She is prettier than her sister.
  • Vous parlez plus vite que lui. | You speak faster than he does.
  • Ce village est moins intéressant que celui que nous avons visité la semaine dernière. | This village is less interesting than the one we visited last week.
  • Jean est aussi intelligent que son frère. | Jean is as intelligent as his brother.
  • Parlez aussi lentement que moi. | Speak as slowly as I do.

Observations on the uses of the comparative:

  1. In comparatives, “than” is translated by que
  2. In French, a comparison of equality (as…as) is expressed by aussi… que.

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Adverbial Phrases

Now that we’ve gone over adverbs the last few weeks, we’ll be wrapping it up this week with different types of adverbial phrases.

Prepositional phrases often function as adverbs of time, place, and manner. The preposition dès and the compound preposition à partir de combine with time words to tell when something happened.

  • dès le matin – from the morning on
  • dès le débout – from the beginning
  • dès mon retour – as soon as I get back
  • à partir d’aujourd’hui – from today on
  • à partir de demain – from tomorrow on
  • à partir d’hier – starting yesterday

Adverbial phrases of time with the prepositions dans and en:

  • dans l’avenir/dans le passé – in the future/in the past
  • dans un mois – in a month
  • dans un moment – in a moment
  • en ce moment – at this time
  • dans cinq minutes – in five minutes (five minutes from now)
  • en cinq minutes – in five minutes (time it takes to do something)
  • d’aujourd’hui en huit – a week from today
  • en avance – early (relative to a point in time)
  • en retard – late (relative to a point in time)

Adverbial phrases beginning with the preposition à:

Phrases of time

  • à l’heure – on time
  • à temps – in time
  • à l’époque – at the time, at that time
  • à l’époque où nous sommes – in this day and age
  • à leur arrivée – when they arrived
  • à leur retour – when they returned

Phrases of place

  • à trois kilomètres de la ville – three kilometers from the city
  • à trois heures de Paris – three hours from Paris
  • à droite/à gauche – to, on the right/to, on the left

Phrases of manner

  • à merveille – wonderfully
  • à pied – on foot
  • à cheval – on horseback
  • à la hâte – hastily, in a rush
  • à peine – hardly

Adverbial phrases beginning with the preposition de:

  • d’habitude, d’ordinaire – usually
  • de temps en temps – from time to time
  • du matin au soir – from morning to night
  • de bonne heure – early
  • de mois en mois/de jour en jour – from month to month/from day to day
  • marcher d’un bon pas – to walk at a good pace

Adverbial phrases with the preposition en:

  • en avant – in front, ahead
  • en arrière – in back
  • en face – across the way
  • en tout cas – in any case
  • en plus – moreover
  • en train/autobus/avion/voiture – by train/bus/plane/car
  • en désordre, en pagaille – in a mess
  • en groupe – in a group

Adverbial phrases with the preposition par:

  • par hasard – by chance
  • par la force – by force
  • par écrit – in writing
  • par terre – on the ground
  • par ici/là – this way/that way
  • par conséquent – consequently
  • par intervalles – intermittently
  • payer par chèque – to pay by check
  • par la poste – through the mail, by mail

The preposition sur has idiomatic uses in phrases of time:

  • sur les 3 heures – at about 3 o’clock
  • sur le moment – at first
  • sur une année – over (over the period of) a year
  • un jour sur deux – every other day

The following are miscellaneous phrases with sans that are often translated by English adverbs:

  • sans but – aimlessly
  • sans chaussures – barefoot
  • sans doute – doubtlessly
  • sans faute – without fail
  • sans mal – without any trouble. without difficulty

Have a great week, everyone! And please let me know in the comments if there is anything you’d like to see in future posts.

A bientôt !