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.