Italian Adverbs

Use these words to add more clarity to your sentences

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Adverbs (avverbi) are used to modify or clarify the meaning of a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.

The adverbs are italicized in the examples below.

  • Ho riposato tranquillamente. - I slept peacefully.
  • Quello scrittore è piuttosto famoso. - That writer is quite famous.
  • Devi parlare molto lentamente. - You have to talk very slowly.

Where do you place adverbs in Italian?

With a verb - When an adverb , it’s usually placed after the verb (italicized): Ho fatto tardi e la segreteria dell'Università era già chiusa. - I was late and the Secretary’s office at the University was already closed.

Depending on the context of the sentence, though, the adverb (italicized) can be placed elsewhere: Domani, se è una bella giornata, voglio andare nel bosco. - If it’s a nice day tomorrow, I want to go to the forest.

With a compound tense - When the verb is a , many adverbs can also be placed between the auxiliary and the participle: Veramente non ho ben capito. - I really didn’t understand well.

With an adjective - When an adverb refers to an adjective, the adverb comes before the adjective: Questo cane è molto buono. - This dog is really good.

With another adverb - When an adverb refers to another adverb, those of the adverbs of quantity (avverbi di quantità), in this case “di solito - usually,” are placed ahead of the others: La mattina, di solito, mi alzo molto presto. - Usually in the morning, I get up really early.

With a negation - The adverb of negation (avverbio di negazione non) always comes before the verb: Vorrei che tu non dimenticassi mai quello che ti ho detto. - I hope you never forget what I told you.

With a question - Interrogative adverbs (Avverbi interrogativi) introduce a direct interrogative sentence and are usually placed before the verb: Quanto costano queste banane? - How much do these bananas cost?

What kinds of adverbs are there?

Italian adverbs can be divided into four groups: semplici, composti, derivati, and locuzioni avverbiali:

Simple adverbs (Avverbi semplici) are formed from a single word:

  • Mai - Never, ever, even, possibly, really
  • Forse - Maybe, perhaps, probably
  • Bene - Good, well, fine
  • Dove - Where, anywhere, someplace
  • Più - More, several, extra
  • Qui - Here, there, where, over here
  • Assai - Very, much, extremely, quite
  • Già - Already, enough, yet, previously

Compound adverbs (avverbi composti) are formed by combining two or more different elements:

  • Almeno (al meno) - At least
  • Invero (in vero) - Indeed
  • dappertutto (da per tutto) - Everywhere
  • in fatti (in fatti) - In fact
  • perfino (per fino) - Even

Locution adverbs (locuzioni avverbiali) are phrases arranged in a fixed order:

  • All'improvviso - Suddenly
  • Di frequente - Often
  • Per di qua - This way
  • Pressappoco - Roughly
  • Poco fa - A bit ago
  • A più non posso - As much as possible
  • D'ora in poi - From now on

These types of adverbs can often be replaced with an adverb: all'improvviso = improvvisamente; di frequente = frequentemente.

Derivative adverbs (avverbi derivati) are formed from another word, to which a suffix is added, like -mente or -oni: allegro > allegramente, ciondolare > ciondoloni).

Most adverbs are derived by adding the suffix -mente to the feminine form of the adjectives that end in -o: certa-mente, rara-mente, ultima-mente or to the singular form of those adjectives that end in -e: forte-mente, grande-mente, veloce-mente. But if the last syllable of these adjectives is -le or -re the final e is eliminated: general-mente, celer-mente.

Special forms include:

  • benevolmente (instead of benevola-mente)
  • ridicolmente (instead of ridicola-mente)
  • leggermente (instead of leggera-mente)
  • violentemente (instead of violenta-mente)
  • parimenti (instead of pari-mente)
  • altrimenti (instead of altra-mente)

The forms ridicolamente, parimente, altramente are rare or obsolete.

Other categories of adverbs: