Italian Adverbs of Manner

Learn about words that describe how things are done

Adverbs of manner

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.

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Filippo, Michael San. "Italian Adverbs of Manner." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Filippo, Michael San. (2023, April 5). Italian Adverbs of Manner. Retrieved from Filippo, Michael San. "Italian Adverbs of Manner." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).