Let's talk about how we use adverbs in Italian.
Adverbs are easy because they don't change according to gender or number, as adjectives do. Knowing a few basic adverbs can help you ask and answer questions in general conversation with strangers or new friends. Adverbs in Italian (gli avverbi) are used to modify, clarify, qualify, or quantify the meaning of a verb, adjective, or another adverb.
avverbi di modo (how?)
avverbi di quantità (how much or many?)
avverbi di luogo (where?)
avverbi di tempo (when, how often?)
Here's a list of some of the common adverbs you need to know:
Let's concentrate on two adverbs that often go hand in hand, but for now, we'll look at them separately:
Leonardo, molto spesso, nelle sue opere,
Leonardo, very often in his works,
faceva le figure centrali quasi fossero delle piramidi.
made the central figures almost as if they were pyramids.
Captions 10-12, Meraviglie - EP. 3 - Part 12Play Caption
Spesso is a great adverb to know. Just tack it on to a verb and you're all set.
Vengo spesso in questo posto (I often come to this place).
Non viaggio spesso in treno (I don't often travel by train).
Volentieri is also a wonderful adverb to have in your toolbox. When someone invites you to do something, you can answer with one word: Volentieri! (I'd be happy to, I'd love to). It may be helpful to consider that this adverb comes from the verb volere (to want). We can also translate volentieri as "willingly." For more about volentieri, read this lesson.
This is an expression you will hear now and then, and it's an Italian favorite. Although we have looked at the two adverbs making up this expression, we might still be perplexed about what it might mean, exactly. "Often and willingly"??? It's not something we say, or not often anyway.
Although it can mean "often and willingly," it usually means "more often than not!" So when you are thinking about how to say "more often than not" in Italian, you might be tempted to translate each word:
più spesso che non... but you might want to try to resist that temptation. Italians prefer to say spesso e volentieri. So we have two adverbs: one is an adverb of time: spesso = often. The other is an adverb of manner: volentieri = willingly.
In the following example, Marika and Anna are making a wonderful frittata out of leftover spaghetti! Non si butta via niente (nothing gets thrown away)!
Tutto si ricicla e, spesso e volentieri,
Everything gets recycled and, more often than not,
è più saporito, no, il piatto riciclato che quello originale.
the recycled dish — you know? — is tastier than the original one.
Captions 8-10, L'Italia a tavola - Frittata di spaghettiPlay Caption
One thing to keep in mind is that in this case, volentieri doesn't necessarily refer to anyone being willing or glad to do something, although it might. It's that something happens easily, without extra effort: often and easily. In the following example, Daniela is talking about the special past tense, il passato remoto, which has gone out of fashion in many parts of Italy, but is still used, a lot of the time, in the south of Italy.
Se vi piace l'Italia del Sud, quindi Napoli...
If you like the south of Italy, in other words: Naples...
la Sicilia, la Sardegna, la Puglia, la Calabria,
Sicily, Sardinia, Apulia, and Calabria,
dovete conoscere il passato remoto
you should know the remote past
perché nel sud Italia si parla molto spesso e volentieri
because in the south of Italy people speak using, more often than not,
al passato remoto.
the remote past tense.
Captions 21-24, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Il passato remotoPlay Caption
In the following example, it is a matter of preference and willingness.
Lavo i panni spesso e volentieri a mano
(I often prefer to wash my laundry by hand).
Spesso e volentieri, mia mamma fa la spesa nelle botteghe
(My mom often prefers to shop in the small grocery stores).
We hope you enjoy using this new expression, and that we have given you some insight into it. Let us know if you have any questions! Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s talk about adverbs. While adjectives describe nouns, adverbs describe verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. Many adverbs are closely connected to adjectives, especially those that answer the question, come (how). In fact, there are a good number of adverbs that can be easily formed if we are familiar with the adjectives. And just remember, while adjectives can have different endings according to number and gender, adverbs stay the same!
Let's look at how to use adjectives to form Italian adverbs with the suffix -mente. Using -mente is similar to using "-ly" in English, in cases such as "nice — nicely," "loud —loudly," and "forceful — forcefully."
Of course, there are many exceptions, but here are some common and useful Italian adverbs that will be easy to remember since they are formed by adding -mente to the root form of the adjective.
In order to build Italian adverbs with -mente, you just have to follow this very simple formula:
Feminine form of the adjective + mente
For example, if we want to form an adverb with the adjective ultimo (last), we just need to take the feminine form of that adjective (ultima) and add the suffix -mente, like this:
ultima (last) + mente = ultimamente (lastly, lately)
chiaro (clear) + mente = chiaramente (clearly)
L'ho detto chiaramente ai suoi collaboratori, prima di prendere qualsiasi iniziativa...
I told your colleagues very clearly: before taking any initiative at all...
Caption 19, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP7 - Sogni di VetroPlay Caption
Let’s look at some more examples:
Vero (true) + mente = veramente (truly, really)
Le dimensioni sono veramente compatte. -Sì, sì.
The dimensions are really compact. -Yes, yes.
Caption 29, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1Play Caption
Onesto (honest): onesta + mente = onestamente (honestly)
Giacomo, onestamente non ci aspettavamo questa cosa.
Giacomo, honestly, we didn't expect this thing.
Caption 53, Questione di Karma - Rai CinemaPlay Caption
More adverbs like these:
Lento (slow) + mente = lentamente (slowly)
Stupido (stupid) + mente = stupidamente (stupidly)
Ironico (ironic) + mente = ironicamente (ironically)
Serio (serious) + mente = seriamente (seriously)
Raro (rare) + mente = raramente (rarely)
You might have noticed that all these adjectives ended in o. This means they have both a masculine and feminine ending, and apart from lento, they also happen to be similar to their English equivalents. Some adjectives, however, end in e, and therefore have the same ending in both the masculine and feminine. When this is the case, the adverb will simply add -mente to the adjective without changing it.
Let's take the adjective semplice (simple).
Semplice (simple) + mente = semplicemente (simply)
If, on the other hand, the adjective ends in -le or -re, we drop the final vowel e before adding the suffix -mente:
Here are some very common and essential adverbs in this category.
Speciale (special) - e: special + mente = specialmente (especially)
Gentile (kind) -e: gentil + mente = gentilmente (kindly)
Normale (normal) -e: normal + mente = normalmente (normally)
Can you turn these common and useful Italian adjectives into adverbs, keeping in mind the three ways we talked about in this lesson?
rapido (fast, rapid)
You'll find the solutions here.
Thanks for reading!
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Here are the adverbs easily formed from adjectives.
probabile (probable) probabilmente (probably)
La vittima è, molto probabilmente, un barbone.
The victim is, most probably, a homeless man.Play Caption
tranquillo (calm, without worries) tranquillamente (calmly, easily)
felice (happy) felicemente (happily)
fortunato (lucky) fortunatamente (luckily, fortunately)
sicuro (sure) sicuramente (surely, of course)
musicale (musical) musicalmente (musically)
forte (strong) fortemente (strongly)
rapido (fast, rapid) rapidamente (rapidly)
veloce (fast) velocemente (rapidly)
cortese (courteous) cortesemente (politely, corteously)
coraggioso (courageous) coraggiosamente (courageously)
scientifico (scientific) scientificamente (scientifically)
possibile (possible) possibilmente (possibly)
comodo (comfortable, convenient) comodamente (comfortably, conveniently)
maggiore (greater) maggiormente (to a greater degree)
Queste erano le cose che maggiormente si ricordavano.
These were the things people remembered most.Play Caption
ulteriore (additional) ulteriormente (further)
Be', non voglio disturbarLa ulteriormente.
Well, I don't want to disturb you any further.
Caption 9, Trailer ufficiale - Benvenuti al sudPlay Caption
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There's a movie on Yabla about a musician who wants to make it as a singer, but is not succeeding.
His agent tells him to take a break from performing, and to soften the blow, says that although Martino's music making is all right, he doesn’t have the presence necessary for performing on stage.
Here's what the agent says:
Sì, la musica ancora ancora sta, ma è la faccia, "the face" [inglese: la faccia]. È questa...
Yes, your playing is maybe all right, but it's the face, the face. It's this..
Caption 36, Chi m'ha visto - filmPlay Caption
A reader has written in asking if the double instance of the adverb ancora was a mistake or not. It’s a good question, and we’ll try to answer it.
We have learned from Daniela's lessons about comparatives and superlatives that, in addition to using più or the suffix -issimo to form the superlative of adjectives and some adverbs, we can also simply repeat the word twice. So we have bellissimo or bello bello. They mean the same thing, although the double adjective or adverb is used primarily in spoken Italian. Read this lesson about it!
So, we have this word ancora. It’s already the source of a little confusion because it means different things in different contexts.
We've looked at this before and there's a lesson about the different meanings of ancora.
Let’s give the word a quick review here.
In the following example, ancora means "even."
Così puoi capirmi ancora meglio.
That way, you can understand me even better.
Caption 27, Italian Intro - SerenaPlay Caption
And In this example, ancora means "still". "Still" and "even" can often be interchangeable, as in these two examples.
E ancora oggi siamo molto amiche.
And still today we're very close friends.
Caption 39, Erica e Martina - La nostra amiciziaPlay Caption
È ancora vivo.
He’s still alive.
If we put it in the negative, non ancora means "not yet."
Non è ancora morto.
He's not dead yet.
In the example that follows, ancora means “more.”
Ne vuoi ancora? -Eh?
Do you want some more of it? -Huh?Play Caption
And ancora can also mean simply, “again.”
Va be', comunque io ti ringrazio ancora per i biglietti,
OK, in any case, I thank you again for the tickets,
Caption 67, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP7 - Sogni di VetroPlay Caption
So this adverb has different meanings that are somewhat related. They have to do with time or quantity and can mean “still,” “again,” “yet” with non (not), “more,” or “even.”
But in this movie, it’s repeated twice, and here, it has a particular, colloquial meaning. It means we are on the borderline of something. Ancora ancora means we're at the limit. We're on the line, even though we haven't stepped over it. Something can pass.
So Martino’s agent is saying, “Your playing is good enough,” and might even be implying “it’s passable.” Here, it’s followed by ma (but), so it's clear that something else isn't passable. "Your playing is passable, but your face isn’t."
There are other adverbs that lend themselves being doubled for effect:
Poco poco to mean just a tiny bit.
Piano piano to mean really soft, really slow.
Appena appena to mean faintly, barely.
Sometimes the doubling takes on a special meaning that has evolved over time, as in the case with ancora ancora.
Quasi quasi is another adverb like this. Literally, it means almost almost, but that makes little sense. For more on quasi quasi, see this lesson about it. Here's an example to give you the basic idea. Let's say I've been debating in my mind whether to have another helping, but then decide and say:
Quasi quasi, ne prendo ancora.
I might just have some more.
If you're not yet a subscriber but seriously thinking about it, you could say,
Quasi quasi mi iscrivo a Yabla.
I might just sign up for Yabla.
In a recent episode of La Ladra, three great, informal adverbs stand out in three consecutive lines.
Ma quelli non mollano l'osso manco morti!
But those guys never let go of the bone, not even dead.
Magari l'osso di Cicci sono io.
Maybe I am Cicci's bone.
Ma mica solamente l'osso.
But not only the bone, of course.
Captions 35-37, La Ladra - Ep. 2 - Viva le spose - Part 10Play Caption
Manco: Originally, it meant meno (less), and was used in expressions such as niente di meno (nothing less) in the variants niente di manco, niente manco, non di manco, non manco(nothing less) and is rarely used today. Its second, more recent meaning, and somewhat related to the first, is used quite a bit. It’s equivalent to neanche (not even) as an abbreviated form of nemmanco (not even).
Manco, meaning neanche, has generally been considered to be bad writing form* and continues, even today, to be used exclusively in informal speech, and in writing that reproduces speech. It’s used more in the south than in the north, and is equivalent to nemmeno, neanche, and neppure (not even).
It’s important to remember that manco is an abbreviation for a word with ne (not, nor) as a sort of prefix, and therefore like mica has a negative meaning, even though it doesn’t exhibit the typical characteristics of a negation.
In the previous episode of La Ladra, the first word is manco!
Manco di Augusto mi posso più fidare.
I can't even trust Augusto anymore.
Caption 2, La Ladra - Ep. 2 - Viva le spose - Part 9Play Caption
See how easily it slips into conversation. It’s certainly quicker than saying neanche.
E lo sai che manco a farlo apposta, proprio qui vicino, c'è un negozio, aperto da poco, che vende mozzarella di bufala.
And you know, not even to do it on purpose [by sheer coincidence], right near here, there's a shop, recently opened, that sells buffalo mozzarella.Play Caption
Have fun with manco. It’s a word you’ll likely hear more than say, since neanche andnemmeno are more straightforward. Like mica, it’s a strong word, and is used emphatically. When someone uses manco, they mean it. Just imagine someone’s eyebrows going up and their eyes opening wide, as they say, manco morto! as if to say, “you gotta be kidding me!”
In this week’s episode of La Ladra, one word comes up in three different instances, that is used constantly in conversation, but rarely in “proper” writing.
In modern Italian, it is most often used as an adverb synonymous with affatto (at all) or perniente (at all).
Non sarà mica facile, eh, per delle dilettanti come noi.
It won't be at all easy, uh, for dilettantes like us.
Caption 10, La Ladra - Ep. 2 - Viva le spose - Part 9Play Caption
In the previous example, mica could be replaced by affatto or per niente. But mica is much more informal.
Non sarà affatto facile, eh, per delle dilettanti come noi.
It comes from “mica,” the Latin noun for “crumb,” so it has to do with something tiny, and of little importance.
The people from una parola al giorno (a word a day) explain mica nicely:
Parola che come avverbio scivola continuamente nei nostri discorsi a rafforzare le nostrenegazioni (a word that slips, repeatedly, into our conversations and reinforces our negations):
non è mica male (it’s not bad at all)
non mi scoccia mica (it doesn’t put me out at all, it’s no hassle at all)
non è mica uno scherzo (it’s no laughing matter)
To read what else they have to say, see: https://unaparolaalgiorno.it/significato/M/mica. It’s a great site for learning new words.
As we have seen above, mica is generally used with a negation, but this is often merely implied, as in the following examples. At the same time, it can have the connotation of “by any chance” and/or have the same role as question tags in English.
Mica hai una penna da prestarmi (you wouldn’t happen to have a pen to lend me, would you)?
Ma... mica vorrai aprirlo con questa? -Ci proviamo.
But... you're not thinking of opening it with this, are you? -We'll try it.
Caption 9, La Ladra - Ep. 2 - Viva le spose - Part 9Play Caption
Mica ce l'hai con me?
You don't happen to be mad at me, do you?
You’re not mad at me, are you?Play Caption
Mica l’ho fatto apposta!
I didn’t do it on purpose!
It's not as if I did it on purpose!
Mica is a rather fun word to use. It’s a way of expressing a negation without coming right out and saying it, or reinforcing a negative you are indeed saying. And the more you use it, the more it will slip into your conversation, and the more genuine your Italian will sound.
Yabla... mica male!
A user wrote in with a question about these two words. Is there a difference? Yes, there is: chiaro is an adjective, and chiaramente is an adverb. But that’s the simple answer.
Language is in constant flux, and chiaro has various meanings, just as “clear” in English does. And this adjective has come to take on the job of an adverb in certain contexts, as Marika mentions in her lesson on adverbs.
"Non fare troppi giri di parole, parla chiaro".
"Don't beat around the bush. Speak plainly."
Caption 29, Marika spiega - Gli avverbi di modoPlay Caption
As a matter of fact, dictionaries list chiaro as both an adjective and adverb, but as an adverb, it's used only in certain circumstances, with certain verbs.
What’s the difference between parlare chiaro and parlare chiaramente?
Well, sometimes there isn’t much difference.
Del resto la relazione del mio collega di Milano parla chiaro.
Moreover, the report from my colleague in Milano is clear.Play Caption
In the example above, the speaker could have used the adverbial form to mean the same thing.
Del resto la relazione del mio collega di Milano parla chiaramente.
Parlare chiaro has become an idiomatic expression — un modo di dire. It gets the message across very clearly. It implies not using flowery language, wasting words, or trying to be too polite. But parlare chiaramente can have more to do with enunciation, articulation, ormaking oneself understood. So, sometimes parlare chiaro and parlare chiaramente can coincide, but not necessarily.
Apart from this modo di dire, the adjective and adverb forms are used a bit differently in grammatical terms.
Since chiaro is an adjective, it normally describes or modifies a noun. To be correct, then, we often use è (it is).
È chiaro che non lo deve sapere nessuno perché il marito è gelosissimo.
It's clear that no one should know, because her husband is very jealous.Play Caption
Chiaro may be used by itself with a question mark to ask, “Is that clear?”
E non sono tenuto a spiegarti niente, chiaro?
And I'm not obliged to explain anything to you, is that clear?Play Caption
The adverb chiaramente, on the other hand, can stand alone before or after another clause or can be inserted just about anywhere in a sentence.
Natoli ha chiaramente bisogno di glutine, eh.
Natoli clearly needs gluten, huh.
Caption 33, La Tempesta - film - Part 5Play Caption
Using chiaro, Paolo could have said:
È chiaro che Natoli ha bisogno di glutine.
It’s clear that Natoli needs gluten.
But chiaro has a special in-between meaning when it’s used in place of an adverb with verbs such as parlare (to speak) and vedere (to see).
Finché non ci ho visto chiaro la tengo io.
Until I've seen things clearly I'm keeping it.Play Caption
Although we have translated it with an adverb, we could also say:
Until I get a clear picture of things, I’m keeping it.
Look for sentences with either chiaro or chiaramente and try switching them, making the necessary changes. Doing a search on the video tab will give you plenty of examples.