Italian Adverbs of Manner

Learn about words that describe how things are done

Adverbs of manner
T.T.

In English, adverbs of manner (avverbi di modo) are ones that end in -ly, like carefully or slowly. They indicate the way (the manner) in which an action takes place.

  • Mia madre cucina egregiamente. - My mom cooks very well.
  • La neve cade morbidamente sul davanzale della finestra. - The snow falls softly on the windowsill.
  • Sono andato in fretta e furia dal dottore perchè non mi sentivo bene. - I hurried quickly to the doctor because I was not feeling well.
  • Devi mescolare energicamente il composto prima di passare la teglia nel forno. - You must stir the mixture vigorously before transferring the pan to the oven.

Which adverbs end in -mente?

adverbs ending in -mente, which are the most numerous, and are formed by adding the suffix to:

The feminine form ending in -a:

  • Alta—altamente = high—highly
  • Aspra—aspramente = bitter—bitterly
  • Calorosa—calorosamente = warm—warmly
  • Onesta—onestamente = honest—honestly

Adjectives ending in -e:

  • Felice—felicemente = happy—happily
  • Forte—fortemente = strong—strongly
  • Lieve—lievemente = slight—slightly

NOTE: adjectives ending with the syllables -le and -re that are preceded by a vowel lose the final -e before adding the suffix -mente:

  • Abile—abilmente = skillful—skillfully
  • Agevole—agevolmente = easy—easily
  • Regolare—regolarmente = regular—regularly

Adjectives ending in -lo:

  • Benevolo—benevolmente = kind—kindly
  • Malevolo—malevolmente = spiteful—spitefully

NOTE: the suffix -mente cannot be added to adjectives indicating color as well as a small number of other adjectives such as buono - good, cattivo - bad, giovane - young, vecchio - old.

Adverbs ending with the suffix -oni, which is added to nouns and to forms derived from verbs:

  • Ginocchio—ginocchioni = knee—kneeling
  • Penzolo—penzoloni = bunch, cluster—hanging, dangling
  • Tastare—tastoni = to feel, to probe—gropingly

Adverbs which take the singular masculine form of certain aggettivi qualificativi (qualifying adjectives):

  • Vederci chiaro - to see it clearly
  • Camminare piano - to walk slowly
  • Parlare forte - to speak loudly
  • Guardare storto - to look askew
  • Rispondere giusto - to answer correctly

Several adverbs, which are derived from Latin:

  • Bene - well
  • Male - badly
  • Meglio - better
  • Peggio - worse

Locuzioni avverbiali di modo (adverbs of manner idioms), of which there are several, including:

  • all'impazzata - wildly
  • a più non posso - like crazy
  • a piedi - by foot
  • di corsa - in a rush
  • di sicuro - surely, certainly
  • di solito - usually
  • in fretta - quickly, fast
  • in un batter d'occhio - in the blink of an eye

The Origin of Adverbs of Manner

An avverbio di modo that ends with the suffix -mente is derived from a Latin phrase consisting of an adjective and the noun mente: for example, the Latin devota mente means "with devout intent, with devout feeling; sana mente means "with sound purpose, with good purpose" and so on.

Over time the recurring use evolved; the second element of the phrase lost both its nominal quality as well as its semantic value and became a simple suffix. Thus was born the adverb: devotamente (devout), sanamente (soundly), fortemente (loudly).

In any case, the adverb of manner maintains clear evidence of its former phrase state: the female gender of the adjective (devotamente, not devotomente, given that the Latin noun mente is feminine). Adverbs ending in -mente replaced vulgar Latin adverbs ending in -e and classical Latin adverbs ending in -iter: for example, devotamente substituted for the Latin devote, and solamente substituted for singulariter.