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One of the eight parts of speech, adverbs are descriptors: they can modify several different parts of speech, including themselves. Virtually every Italian word that ends in -mente is an adverb, equivalent to -ly in English. But there are also many adverbs that don’t end in -mente.
Characteristics of Italian Adverbs
- May modify verbs, adjectives, prepositions, or other adverbs
- Are invariable
- Are categorized according to type of modification
- Follow specific placement rules
Types of Italian Adverbs
- Adverbs of frequency
- Adverbs of manner
- Adverbs of place
- Adverbs of quantity
- Adverbs of time
- Comparative adverbs
- Evaluative adverbs
- Exclamative adverbs
- Interrogative adverbs
- Negative adverbs
- Superlative adverbs
Italian Adverbs and Word Order
The placement of Italian adverbs can be difficult. Whereas in English their placement is sometimes arbitrary (they might be found before or after the verb, or even at the beginning or end of the sentence), the placement rules for Italian adverbs are stricter.
1. When an Italian adverb is modifying a verb, it is placed after the verb.
|Non posso andarmene ora.
|I can’t leave now.
|Abbiamo mangiato bene questa mattina.
|We ate well this morning.
1½. Many Italian adverbs can be placed at the beginning of the sentence for emphasis.
|Ora non posso andarmene.
|I can’t leave right now.
|Today I’m going to win!
2. When an adverb is modifying an adjective or another adverb, it is placed in front of that word:
|Mangiamo molto bene.
|We eat very well.
|Le sue idee sono completamente folli.
|His ideas are completely crazy.
Note: Italian adverbs are never placed between a subject and its verb.
Word order with adverbs will be addressed in more detail in a future lesson.
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