Adverbs / Los adverbios

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1. Definition
2. Types of adverbs
3. How to know a word is and adverb
4. Adverbs ending in -mente
5. Adverb position

1. Definition

Adverbs are invariable words that modify other sentence elements. They add information to verbs, adjectives, other adverbs or phrases.

2. Types of adverbs

There are different types of adverbs. For simplicity’s sake, the main adverbs and adverbial phrases are divided into big groups:

  Type                Adverbs/adv. phrases               Examples

cerca, lejos, delante, detrás, ahí, aquí, allí, arriba, abajo, encima, debajo, dentro, fuera…
Lo tengo aquí / I have it here.
Ponlo encima de la mesa / Put it on the table.
hoy, ayer, anteayer, mañana, después, antes, pronto, tarde, temprano, nunca, jamás, siempre, aún, todavía, ya, ahora, luego, a menudo, raramente…
Hoy llueve / It’s raining today.
¡Ven pronto! / Come back soon!
Aún no lo sé / I still don’t know.
Te querré siempre / I’ll love you forever.
Nos vemos luego / See you in a while.
Quantity and Degree
mucho, poco, muy, bastante, demasiado, suficiente, menos, más, casi, apenas, tan(to), escasamente…
Es suficiente / It’s enough.
¡Fui tan bobo! / I was so silly!
Comiste demasiado / You ate too much.
Casi te caes / You almost fell.
sí, también.
¿Vienes? / Are you coming? Yes
no, tampoco.
¿Cansado? No / Are you tired? No.
bien, mal, mejor, peor, deprisa, despacio, así…
Most of adverbs ending in mente (-ly)
¿Qué tal? Bien / How are you? Fine.
Mejor así / It’s better like this.
Charlaron animadamente / They chatted animatedly.
quizá, acaso, tal vez…
Quizá venga / He/she may come.
cuándo, cómo, dónde…
¿Dónde estás? / Where are you?
cuando, como, donde, cuanto, cual.
Cuando vivíamos allí / When we lived there.

3. How to know a word is an adverb

Some adverbs can have another function in the sentence. In practice, you have a simple rule: if they are invariable, they are adverbs.


Es bastante simpático.                                    He is quite nice.


Creo que tengo bastantes posibilidades.           I think I have a good chance.

4. Adverbs ending in -mente

Many adverbs are formed adding –mente to the feminine singular form of an adjective (note that the written accent is retained):

      Noun                   Adjectif                    Adverb          
     Alegría                 Alegre                       Alegremente   
     Facilidad              Fácil                         Fácilmente
     Atención              Atento/a                   Atentamente    

Most of the times they are equivalent to the corresponding noun, preceded by the preposition con (with). In Spanish, -mente ended adverbs must be used sparingly:

Ana trabajaba alegremente/con alegría.           Ana worked happily.

Lo resolvió con facilidad.                                 She/he solved it easily.

Lea las instrucciones atentamente.                    Read the instructions carefully.

When there are a series of –mente adverbs, the last one is usually linked by y (and). The previous adverbs loose the –mente ending:

Alberto hizo sus tareas atenta y rápidamente.

Alberto did his homework carefully and quickly.

5. Adverb position

Spanish is more flexible than English on adverb position.

     Hoy como en casa / Como hoy en casa / Como en casa hoy.

     Today I’m going to eat at home.

Special cases:

Adverbs are rarely used in the middle of a perfect tense:

   Hoy he comido mucho / He comido mucho hoy

   BUT NOT  He hoy comido mucho.

   I have eaten a lot today.

Nunca, jamás, tampoco, nadie, ninguno, nada… can come before or after the verb. If they come after it, the adverb no must precede the verb:

Nunca soy puntual / No soy puntual nunca.

I never arrive on time.

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