French Exclamative Adverbs - Adverbes d'exclamation

Learn how to exclaim in French

Portrait of an excited woman on the street
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Exclamative adverbs are placed in front of clauses to indicate shock, disbelief, awe, or some other strong emotion felt by the speaker. There are five French exclamative adverbs:

  1. comme
  2. que
  3. qu'est-ce que
  4. ce que
  5. combien

Comme means "how," though many English speakers are likely reword the sentence to use "so" instead:

   Comme il fait beau !
   How nice the weather is! The weather is so nice!

   Comme c'est difficile !

   How difficult it is! It's so difficult!

   Comme tu es grand !
   How tall you are! You're so tall!

Que is more or less interchangeable with comme:

   Qu'il fait beau !
   How beautiful the weather is!

   Que c'est difficile !
   How difficult it is!

   Que tu es grand !
   How tall you are!

Que de is used in front of nouns to stress "so much" or "so many" of something:

   Que d'argent !
   So much money!

   Que de monde !
   So many people!

   Que de difficultés !
   So many problems!

Que followed by a subjunctive clause creates an indirect command.

Informally, qu'est-ce que and ce que can replace comme and que:

   Qu'est-ce qu'il fait beau ! Ce qu'il fait beau !
   The weather is so beautiful!

   Qu'est-ce que c'est difficile ! Ce que c'est difficile !
   It's so difficult!

   Qu'est-ce que tu es grand ! Ce que tu es grand !
   You're so tall!

Combien means "how much" or "how many" and must be followed by an adverb or by de + noun:

   Combien plus d'énergie que j'ai ! Combien plus d'énergie ai-je !

   How much more energy I have! (I have so much more energy)

   Combien d'argent que tu dépenses ! Combien d'argent dépenses-tu !
   How much money you're spending! (You're spending so much money!

Note: The clause that follows the modified noun requires either inversion or que.

Combien means "how much/many" or "so much/many" and may be followed by a clause, an adverb, or de + noun:

   Combien il a changé !

   How he has changed! (He's changed so much!)

   Combien en a-t-on vus !
   How many we saw! (We saw so many!)

   Combien de fois ne lui a-t-on pas répété !
   How many times have we told him!

   Mais combien plus noble si les hommes mouraient pour des idées vraies !
      (Henri Louis Mencken, Extrait de Préjugés)
   But how much more noble if men died for real ideas!