The adverb in Italian

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The adverb in Italian

In the Italian language, the words that constitute the variable parts of speech, to be precise, those that serve to specify circumstances and modes of a certain state or event, and that alter, in most cases, the meaning of some words , are adverbs.

Let’s see some examples:

In grammar, the adverb modifies and complements the meaning of a verb, mainly:

  • Ex: suena meravigliosamente la chitarra. (He plays the guitar wonderfully).

The adverb is meravigliosamente , which refers to the word sounds, which is a verb. However, the adverb is not always used to modify a verb: it can be placed next to other adverbs or adjectives, enriching or transforming its meaning.

  • Ex: Miriam è molto intelligente. (Miriam is very smart).

Intelligente is an adjective, molto is the adverb that changes meaning.

  • Ex: Luca ha imparato a scrivere molto precocemente.(Luca learned to write very early).

In this case, the same word, molto, is an adverb based on another adverb: precocemente.

Let’s see, instead, how the adverb can integrate the meaning of a complete sentence:

  • Ex: Ma sì che vengo!  (Of course, I’m coming!)

There is no doubt that, more than a simple “I am coming!” The whole proposition thus formulated, thanks to the “yes” that acts as an adverb, is stronger and more expressive.


We can also consider some phrases as adverbs , which is why they are called “avverbiali”, since they are expressions made up of several words that have the same meaning as a normal adverb.

These, therefore, of the adverb in Italian fulfill the same function, therefore, where we will have words such as molto, poco, troppo (much, little, too much), there will be in equal measure phrases like approximately, né più né meno (no more, no less), etc.

But let’s see everything in concrete

From a formal point of view we can distinguish two “classes” of adverbs , the lexicon and the derivative:

  • with lexical adverbs we indicate words that do not derive from others presto, bene, mal, semper, (soon, good, bad, always) etc.
  • while with derived adverbs we mean the opposite. and therefore words derived from others, whose formation process, in the Italian language, sees the apposition of the suffix -mente for adjectives attentamente, brevemente, comodamente, (carefully, briefly, comfortably, etc.) or -oni, directly in the root of a noun or a verb: ciondoloni, bocconi , (hanging, bites) etc.

Based on the function they perform within the sentence, we identify some adverbs by the way they indicate the action carried out, by the time and place in which they are located; others for the opinion expressed on the word they accompany. For this we distinguish:

Avverbi di modo or maniera

Adverbs of manner or manner, which specify the way in which the action takes place, and are:

  • -in -mente = briefly, kindly, etc;
  • −en -oni = astride, on all fours, etc;
  • – those that have the form of adjectives in masculine = forte, chiaro, alto (strong, clear, tall , etc;
  • −others = bene, male, volentieri, purtroppo (good, bad, voluntarily, unfortunately), etc;
  • −including corresponding phrases di corsa, più piano, più alto (running, slower, higher, etc.);

Avverbi di tempo

Adverbs of time, which specify the moment when the action takes place:

  • – ieri, oggi, frequentemente, subito, prima, finora (yesterday, today, frequently, immediately, before, until now), etc.
  • −and corresponding phrases: all’improvviso, per tempo, prima or poi , (suddenly, in time, sooner or later), etc;

Adverbs of place

which specify where the action takes place:

  • lì, qui, giù, dietro, sopra, altrove, presso, vi, ci. (there, here, down, back, up, somewhere else, near, there, there, etc);
  • and corresponding phrases: di là, di qua, di sotto (beyond, here, below, etc);

Adverbs of quantity

that vaguely express a certain measure:

  • appena, molto, abbastanza, alquanto, meno. (only, much, enough, little, less, etc;)
  • and corresponding phrases: all’incirca, di più, di meno (approximately, more, less, etc);

Opinion adverbs

che esprimono, ovvero, un’opinione, e possono essere : (which express, that is, an opinion, and can be):

  • of affirmation = certain, sicuro, indubbiamente (sure, sure, undoubted), etc;
  • negation = no, né, nemmeno, neppure (no, nor, not even, not even), etc;
  • of doubt =probabilmente, forse, chissà, magari (probably, maybe, who knows, maybe,) etc;

the sentences, respectively, will be: di sicuro / nemmeno per sogno / quasi quasi ( safe / not even for a dream / almost almost,) etc;

Interrogative adverbs

Within the sentence, they present a question: quanto ?, dove ?, perché ?, ( how much ?, where ?, why ?,) etc;

Some adverbs have a focus function , that is, to transform a part of the sentence in correspondence with the information structure of the whole proposition; this category includes adverbs also, anche, perfino, solamente, addirittura etc. The importance of the sentence centers on these adverbs.

Like adjectives, adverbs also have comparative degrees:

  • by majority : it is formed by putting more before the positive degree of the adverb (Ex:lentamente – più lentamente (slowly – more slowly);
  • minority : forms like the first, but press less instead of more meno lentamente (less slowly);
  • of equality: prefix words as much or more or postpone how or how much così lentamente  / come/tanto lentamente quanto(as slowly as / as slowly as);

and superlative degrees:

  • absolute : it is formed by adding the suffix -issimo or -issimamente to the positive degree (eg: fast – very fast / very fast);
  • relative : it is formed by putting the phrase before the positive degree as much as possible and postponing the term (as quickly as possible).

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