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!
Both the pluperfect and the past anterior correspond to the English pluperfect, “I had done/I had been doing”. That is to say that they refer to an action which happened at a point in the past earlier than that referred to by the previous or subsequent verb in the past historic or perfect.
Il s’était déjà installé quand je suis arrivé. | He had already settled in when I arrived.
Aussitôt qu’il fut parti, elle nous téléphona. | As soon as he had left, she telephoned us.
In some cases, English may use the preterite in place of the pluperfect, but French always uses the pluperfect/past anterior to denote the appropriate time sequence.
Lundi j’ai retrouvé le dossier que vous aviez préparé l’année dernière. | On Monday I came across the file which you prepared/had prepared last year.
In spoken French, only the pluperfect, not the past anterior, is used. Because the past anterior uses the past historic to form the auxiliary, it is associated with formal written French. It should be used in formal written French in place of the pluperfect if the following circumstances all apply:
you would otherwise use the pluperfect, referring to a single completed action in the past (not a repeated habitual action)
the main narrative tense of the passage is the past historic (not the perfect)
the clause which requires the past anterior is introduced by one of the following time conjunctions: aussitôt que/ dès que (as soon as), après que (after), à peine que (hardly), quand/lorsque (when):
Dès qu‘il eut annoncé sa décision de vendre la maison, des agents immobiliers s’empressèrent de le contacter.
As soon as he had announced his decision to sell the house, estate agents rushed to make contact with him.
A peine se fut-elle couchée que le bruit recommença.
Hardly had she gone to bed when the noise started again.