Italian adverbs are called avverbi, from Latin “ad verbum”, meaning “near the verb”.
Italian adverbs are a part of a sentence used for modifying the meaning of verbs, adjectives or other parts of a clause. It’s sometimes quite difficult to sort avverbi and aggettivi , mainly because they happen to be identical. The trick here is to understand which part of the sentence they refer to. Let’s take for example the word forte, which means strong, but in spoken language it also means fast. It can be an aggettivo or an avverbio depending on the sentence.
- Mario è forte – In this case the word forte is an aggettivo because it refers to Mario, a noun. Mario is strong
- Mario va forte – In this case forte is an avverbio because it describes the verb andare. lit. “Mario goes fast”
We can classify the Italian adverbs in 5 main groups.
1- Avverbi di modo
They describe HOW an action (the verb) is taking place.
- Adverbs ending in “-mente”, are obtained adding the suffix to and adjective. For example
– Luigi cammina velocemente. The adverb is obtained adding -mente to the adjective veloce. All the words ending in -mente are Italian adverbs. In this case, velocemente describes how Luigi walks (fast).
- Some adverbs look like singular masculine adjectives, just like forte above
– Luigi cammina storto. In this case the word storto (bent) is not an aggettivo, but an avverbio because it does not refer to the noun Luigi but to the verb camminare, describing HOW Luigi walks.
2- Avverbi di tempo
These Italian adverbs describe WHEN an action (the verb) is taking place. For example: – Luigi cammina adesso – Luigi walks now. Adesso describes when the action take place. Other common avverbi di tempo are: oggi, ieri, domani, sempre, mai, raramente, stasera, stamattina, dopo, prima, mentre, ancora, subito, presto, tardi etc.
3- Avverbi di luogo
They describe WHERE an action takes place. For example: – Luigi cammina davanti – Luigi walks ahead. Davanti describes where the action is happening. Other common avverbi di luogo are: sopra, sotto, vicino, lontano, a destra, a sinistra, di fianco, qui, qua, lì etc.
4 – Avverbi di quantità
They describe HOW MUCH/MANY , a quantity, associated to a verb. For example: Luigi ha camminato molto – where molto is linked to the verb camminare, giving the idea of how much Luìgi walked. Other common avverbi di quantità are: poco, tanto abbastanza, niente, troppo, un po’ (poco), nulla, meno, assai, etc.
5- Avverbi di giudizio
These Italian adverbs represent a pretty wide range of avverbi. They all have in common the fact of expressing an opinion, whether it is affirmative, negative, a doubt. For example: Luigi forse ha camminato – where forse (perhaps or maybe) changes the meaning of the verb, making it a possibility instead of a fact. Some common avverbi di giudizio are: forse, probabilmente, sicuramente, magari, assolutamente, certamente, davvero, esattamente, di certo, di sicuro.
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