Spanish Adverbs Made Simple: For Beginners To Advanced

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Understanding Spanish adverbs, adverbios españoles, is key to becoming more confident in your Spanish language skills.

Have you taken Spanish for beginners before, but are struggling with the next level?

Or have you been studying hard and want to get a refresher on how easy it can be to learn new vocabulary words.

If so, this article is for you! I will teach everything about using adverbs in Spanish without getting too complicated or overwhelming. With these tips under your belt, learning new terminology won't seem like such a challenge anymore.

These tips will cover both beginner and advanced vocabulary, so go ahead and jump in wherever you are.

How to create Spanish adverbs from adjectives

The usual way of forming an adverb from an adjective is by adding the suffix -mente to the singular form of an adjective (to the feminine form if it has one):

  • igual equal igualmente equally/likewise
  • fantástico fantastic fantásticamente fantastically

If the adjective has an accent, this remains unchanged:

  • Increíble incredible increíblemente incredibly
  • esporádico sporadic esporádicamente sporadically

If two adverbs ending in -mente are joined by y/e and, o/u or, ni nor/and not, pero/sino but, the first drops the suffix -mente:

  • Se puede justificar económica y psicológicamente. It can be justified economically and psychologically.
  • Contestó irónica pero Inteligentemente. She/he replied ironically but intelligently.

Adverbs ending in -mente are used sparingly, rarely more than one to a sentence. One adverb ending in -mente should not be used to modify another.

  • Se defendieron con un valor increíble. They defended themselves incredibly bravely. (not increíblemente valientemente)

There are alternative ways of expressing an adverbial idea, and these are preferred if the original sounds clumsy:

  • inteligentemente - con inteligencia intelligently
  • decididamente - de una manera decidida decidedly
  • increíblemente - de forma increíble incredibly
  • rápidamente - deprisa quickly

etc.

Spanish adverbs list

A large number of Spanish adverbs are independent words not formed from adjectives. These are also some of the most common adverbs in Spanish. Here is a list of Spanish adverbs that must be learned separately.

  • abajo downstairs/down
  • arriba upstairs/up
  • (a)dentro Inside
  • (a)fuera outside
  • adelante forward
  • atrás back
  • adrede on purpose
  • ahora now
  • apenas scarcely
  • así thus
  • bien well
  • despacio slowly
  • igual in the same way
  • mal badly
  • mañana tomorrow
  • mucho much/a lot
  • poco not much etc.

Even more numerous are adverbial phrases formed from a preposition + a noun; these must be learned separately. Here are some examples of adverbs in Spanish that you should memorize:

  • a contrapelo unwittingly
  • a gritos while shouting
  • a mano by hand
  • a menudo often
  • a oscuras in the dark
  • a propósito on purpose
  • a ratos occasionally
  • a veces sometimes
  • con ganas eagerly
  • de noche/de día by night/day
  • en balde/en vano pointlessly/for nothing
  • en cambio on the other hand

What is the Spanish Adverb Recíen?

The adverb recién deserves special mention. It means just, only in Latin America:

llegó recién he’s just arrived (= acaba de llegar)

recién entonces (colloquial usage) only then ( = sólo entonces).

In Spain it means recently, newly and appears only in combination with participles:

recién pintado just painted/recently painted.

How do you use an adjective as an adverb in Spanish?

Some Spanish adjectives may be used as adverbs, in which case they are invariably masculine singular:

  • Trabaja muy duro. He works very hard.
  • Hable claro. Speak clearly.
  • Estamos fatal. We’re feeling dreadful/We’re in a dreadful mess.

Very often normal adjectives can replace adverbs when the adjective really applies to the subject of the verb and not to the verb itself. The result is not always easily translated. The adjective agrees in number and gender with the subject of the verb:

  • Andaban cansados y tristes. They were walking along (looking) tired and sad.
  • Vivían amargados. They led bitter lives.
  • Me miró asustada. She looked at me in alarm.

How do you form comparative adverbs in Spanish?

The comparative of Spanish adverbs is formed by using más more or menos less. Que is than:

  • fácilmente easily
  • más fácilmente more easily
  • a menudo often
  • más a menudo more often

The only irregular forms are:

  • bien well - mejor better
  • mal badly - peor worse
  • mucho much - más more
  • poco little - menos less

These latter forms do not agree in number when they are adverbs. Compare son mejores they're better (adjective) and están mejor they're better off/in better condition (adverb).

How do you form superlative adverbs in Spanish?

The superlative of Spanish adverbs is usually formed with el que or quien:

  • Ella es la que lo hará más fácilmente. She’s the one who will do it most/more easily.
  • Antonio es quien mejor canta. Antonio sings best.
  • Tú eres el que más sabe de todo esto. You know most about all this.

Spanish Adverbs of Place

The following are particularly frequent:

aquí here ahí (just) there
allí / allá there acá here
(a)dentro inside (a)fuera outside
abajo down/downstairs arriba up/upstairs
adelante forward atrás backwards/back
delante in front detrás behind

Aquí is the equivalent of here. Ahí means just there (close by you) and allí indicates somewhere farther away; the distinction should be maintained.

Allá and acá are less common in Spain but they are obligatory everywhere when they follow más:

  • un poquito más allá/acá a bit more that/this way

Acá replaces aquí in many regions of Latin America, especially in Argentina and neighboring countries.

The forms adentro, afuera are, in the standard language, generally used only to express motion, and the forms dentro and fuera are used to indicate static position:

  • Fue adentro. He went inside. (motion)
  • Estaba dentro/fuera. He was inside/outside. (static position)

But this distinction is lost in Latin America, where the forms beginning with a- are generally used for static position and motion too: estaba adentro/afuera

The prepositional phrases are dentro de and fuera de:

  • dentro/fuera de la casa inside/outside the house

However, the forms adentro de, afuera de are commonly heard in Latin America and are accepted in writing in Argentina.

List of Spanish adverbs of frequency with examples

Spanish adverbs of frequency are quite easy to learn because many are similar to their English equivalents. Here is a list of the most common ones:

Cada mes, mensualmente - monthly:

  • Visita a su abuela mensualmente - He visits his grandmother monthly
  • Pago el alquiler cada mes - I pay the rent every month

Anualmente - annually:

  • Solía pagar mis impuestos anualmente. I used to pay my taxes annually.
  • Me baño anualmente, lo necesite o no. I bathe annually, whether I need to or not.

Diariamente - daily:

  • El Sr. Escobar hacía ejercicio diariamente cuando estaba en la cárcel. Mr. Escobar exercised daily when he was in jail.
  • Cuando éramos adolescentes, íbamos al parque de patinaje diariamente. When we were teenagers, we would go to the skateboard park every day.

Mucho - a lot:

  • Come mucho, pero no engorda. He eats a lot, but never puts on weight.
  • Trabaja mucho en ser perezoso. He works very hard at being lazy.

Constantemente - constantly:

  • Me regaña constantemente. She nags me constantly.
  • Yo la ignoro constantemente. I constantly ignore her.

A veces - sometimes:

  • A veces, utilizo palabras que no entiendo. Sometimes, I use words I don’t understand.
  • A veces pienso en hacer dieta porque me quita mucho peso de encima. I think about dieting sometimes because it takes a lot of weight off my mind.

Nunca, jamás - never:

  • ¿Qué droga no deberían tomar nunca los dinosaurios? Un esteroide. Which drug should dinosaurs never take? A steroid.
  • Jamás salgas con una chica que juegue al tenis porque el amor no significa nada para ellas. Never date a girl that plays tennis because love means nothing to them.

Generalmente, por lo general - generally:

  • Generalmente no como setas, pero hoy es una excepción. I generally don't eat mushrooms, but today it's an exception.
  • Por lo general, no me gusta la comida coreana. Generally, I don't like Korean food.

Apenas - hardly

  • Apenas le dije una palabra a mi esposa hasta que le dije que sí al divorcio. I hardly said a word to my wife until I said yes to a divorce.
  • Apenas te conozco. I hardly know you.

A menudo - often

  • No bebo cerveza a menudo. Sólo cada noche. I don't drink beer often. Just every night.
  • Va a la iglesia a menudo. En Navidad y Pascua. He goes to church often. At Christmas and Easter.

De vez en cuando - from time to time, occasionally, once in a while:

  • De vez en cuando me gusta fumar un puro cubano. I occasionally like to smoke a Cuban cigar.
  • Sólo se ven de vez en cuando y así les gusta. They only see each other once in a while and that's how they like it.

Cada semana, semanalmente - weekly:

  • Cuando vivíamos en Chile, íbamos a la iglesia cada semana. When we lived in Chile, we went to church weekly.
  • Pago a los empleados semanalmente. I pay the employees weekly.

Siempre - always:

  • Siempre hay que mirar el espejo retrovisor antes de girar. You should always check your rear mirror before turning.
  • Siempre me levanto antes de que los pájaros empiecen a cantar. I always get up before the birds start singing.

Muchas veces - often, many times:

  • Se pelearon muchas veces. They fought each other many times.
  • Discutimos muchas veces durante la cena. We argued many times over dinner.

Todos los días - every day:

  • Si quieres aprender a utilizar los adverbios en español, debes practicar todos los días. If you want to learn how to use adverbs in Spanish, you should practice every day.
  • Estudio los adverbios españoles todos los días. I study Spanish adverbs every day.

Pocas veces - rarely, seldom:

  • Pocas veces se visita. It's seldom that you visit.
  • Lo he visto pocas veces. I've seen him rarely.

Por lo menos - at least:

  • Conté por lo menos tres. I counted at least three.
  • Dame por lo menos 5 minutos. Give me at least 5 minutes.

Regularmente - regularly:

  • Este perro necesita ser paseado regularmente. This dog needs to be walked regularly
  • Me gusta nadar regularmente. I like to regularly swim.

Con frecuencia, frecuentemente - frequently:

  • Con frecuencia nos dirigimos a las montañas. We frequently drive to the mountains.
  • Comer verduras frecuentemente es bueno para la salud. Eating vegetables frequently is good for your health.

Bastante - enough

  • Trae bastante comida porque nos estamos muriendo de hambre. Bring enough food because we are starving.
  • Dame bastante tiempo y lo haré. Give me enough time and I'll do it.

Usualmente - usually:

  • Usualmente sólo salgo con chicas gordas. I usually only date fat girls.
  • Usualmente cenamos a las 8. We usually eat dinner at 8.

Poco - a little:

  • Salgo muy poco entre semana. I go out very little in the week.
  • Hoy en día viajo muy poco. I travel very little nowadays.

Menos - less

  • Hoy en día hago menos ejercicio porque me duelen las rodillas. I exercise less nowadays because my knees hurt.
  • Conduce menos después del accidente. She drives less after the accident.

Where do you put the adverbs in Spanish?

When an adverb or adverbial phrase modifies a verb it generally follows the verb:

  • Canta bien. He sings well.
  • Hablaba a gritos. He was talking at the top of his voice.
  • El presidente consiguió también que se modificara la ley. The President also managed to get the law modified.

When an adverb modifies a Modal Verb plus a participle or Infinitive, the adverb should not be inserted between the modal and the non-finite form:

  • Lo ha hecho siempre/Siempre lo ha hecho. He’s always done it. (never lo ha siempre hecho)
  • Por fin voy a verla/Voy a verla por fin. I’m finally going to see her.

When an adverb modifies a whole phrase and not just the verb, it usually precedes the whole phrase (as in English):

  • Normalmente viene a las tres. Normally he comes at three.

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