Placement of French Adverbs

Definition: The placement of French adverbs depends to some extent upon the type of adverb and the word that it is modifying.

I. Short adverbs that modify a verb usually follow the conjugated verb. (Remember that in compound tenses, the auxiliary verb is the conjugated verb, so the adverb follows that.)
  • Nous mangeons bien. We eat well.
  • Nous avons bien mangé. We ate well.
  • Nous allons bien manger. We will eat well.
  • Il fait souvent la cuisine. He often cooks.
  • Il a souvent fait la cuisine. He often cooked.
  • Il doit souvent faire la cuisine. He often has to cook.
II. Adverbs of frequency are usually placed after the verb.
Exception: parfois is normally placed at the beginning of the sentence.

  • Je fais toujours mes devoirs.
    I always do my homework.
  • Parfois, Luc ne fait pas ses devoirs.
    Sometimes Luc doesn't do his homework.
III. Adverbs of time which refer to specific days can be placed at the beginning or end of the sentence.

  • Aujourd'hui, je vais acheter une voiture.
    Today, I'm going to buy a car.
  • Elles arriveront demain.
    They'll arrive tomorrow.
IV. Long adverbs are usually placed at the beginning or end of the sentence.
  • Généralement, nous mangeons avant 17h00.
    Normally, we eat before 5pm.
  • Je ne l'ai pas trouvé, malheureusement.
    I didn't find it, unfortunately.
However, if the long adverb specifically modifies the verb, it is placed after the conjugated verb.
  • Il a immédiatement quitté Paris.
    He left Paris immediately.
V. Adverbs of place are usually found after the direct object.
  • Il a mis ton sac à dos là-bas.
    He put your backpack over there.
  • J'ai trouvé le livre ici.
    I found the book here.
VI. Adverbs which modify adjectives or other adverbs are placed in front of the word they modify.
  • Je suis très heureuse.
    I'm very happy.
  • Chantal fait assez souvent ses devoirs.
    Chantal does her homework fairly often.
VII. In negative constructions, adverbs which normally follow the verb are placed after pas.
  • Je mange bien ==> Je ne mange pas bien.
    I eat well ==> I don't eat well.
  • Tu travailles trop ==> Tu ne travailles pas trop.
    You work too much ==> You don't work too much.



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