Spanish Adverbs

In previous lessons you learned how to describe people, places and things through the use of descriptive words called adjectives. These include words like bonito (pretty), lento (slow), gordo (fat), et cetera.

You can also describe actions in a similar way. Instead of adjectives, you will use adverbs. Examples of adverbs include rápidamente (quickly), lentamente (slowly), suavemente (softly), et cetera. These words describe how an action is taking place and may refer to a variety of characteristics.

The majority of adverbs in English end in –ly. Think of words like loudly, roughly, carefully, completely, or hastily.

Fortunately, Spanish has an equivalent of the –ly ending in English:
 

-mente
 

It is easier to use adverbs than adjectives in Spanish. Why? Well, while adjectives change according to the gender and quantity of the noun they describe, adverbs don’t change at all. The same adverb form applies to all verbs, indiscriminately!

You can form an adverb from almost any adjective in Spanish. All you have to do is take the feminine form of the adjective and add –mente to the end. Here are some examples.

adjective

=

feminine form

+

-mente

=

adverb

absoluto - absolute

absoluta

absolutamente

absolutely

lento – slow

lenta

lentamente

slowly

rápido – fast

rápida

rápidamente

quickly

suave – soft

(no change)

suavemente

softly

Adverbs that Describe How an Action Occurs

You will find some adverbs in Spanish that don’t look much like their English equivalents, but are used quite frequently. You need to memorize the following adverbs, because you will hear them often.

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Me lo sé de memoria.
I know it by memory.
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The earthquake happened suddenly.
The earthquake happened suddenly.
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Carmen se puso la camiseta al revés.
Carmen put her t-shirt on backwards.
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Lo hicimos a escondidas.
We did it secretly.
De repente sonó el alarma.
Suddenly, the alarm rang out.

Adverbs that Describe When an Action Occurs

If you wish to describe how often or when an action occurs, you may wish to use one of the following adverbs.

a menudooftenal finat last, in the end, finally
a tiempoon timede díaduring daytime
a vecessometimesde nocheduring nighttime
al anochecerat nightde vez en cuandoonce in a while

Por ejemplo:

Adverbs that Describe Where an Action Occurs

If you wish to describe where an action occurs, you may wish to use one of the following adverbs.

a la derechato the righten ninguna partenowhere
a la izquierdato the leften otra parteelsewhere, somewhere else
de arriba a bajofrom top to bottomen todas parteseverywhere
en casaat homepor aquíaround here, this way

In the next section we'll talk about Spanish Prepositions Part 1: A, DE, EN, HACIA, and CON.

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