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Adverbs provide details about the place, time, reason or manner of an action. They refer to the verb and are used to describe when, how, where or why something happened. Adverbs are invariable and cannot be declined. There are several types of adverbs: place adverbs, time adverbs, cause adverbs and modal adverbs.

Besides, adverbs can be formed from other types of words (nouns or adjectives). Normal adjectives can also be used as adverbs. The difference is that, unlike an adjective, the adverb does not describe a noun but a verb (= adverbial use of adjectives).

Adjective Adverb
Der nette (=Adjektiv) Mann (=Nomen)
The kind (= adjective) man (= noun)
Der Mann lächelt (=Verb) nett (=Adverb).
The man smiles (= verb) kindly (= adverb).
→ Wie ist der Mann?
How is the man?
→ Wie lächelt der Mann?
How does the man smile?
“Nett” beschreibt das Nomen, in diesem Fall den Mann.
“Kind” describes the noun, in this case the man.
“Nett” beschreibt das Verb näher, in diesem Fall das Verb lächeln.
“Kindly” describes the verb, in this case “smiles”.

Formation of adverbs

Part of adverbs are derived from other kinds of words through the addition of suffixes.

  • Derivation from nouns with an ending:

    Als Ersatz für das Mehl können wir Mandeln verwenden. (Substantiv)
    As a replacement for flour, we can use almonds. (Noun)
    Ersatzweise können wir auch Mandeln verwenden. (Adverb)
    As a replacement, we can also use almonds. (Adverb)
    Am Morgen putze ich mir die Zähne. (Substantiv)
    In the morning I brush my teeth. (Noun)
    Morgens putze ich mir die Zähne. (Adverb)
    In the morning I brush my teeth. (Adverb)
  • Derivation from some adjectives with an ending:

    Nur zufällig entdeckte ich dich in der Menge. (Adjektiv)
    I discovered you among the crowd only by chance.
    Ich entdeckte dich nur zufälligerweise in der Menge. (Adverb)
    I discovered you among the crowd only by chance.

Place adverbs

hinten (= behind) , vorne (= in the front) , da (= there) , dort (= over there) , oben (= above) , unten (= below) , hier (= here) , außen (= outside) , innen (= inside) ...
From where?
von links (= from left) , von oben (= from above) , von draußen (= from outside) , dorther (= from over there) , daher (= from there) , von dort (= from over there) ...
To where?
nach hinten (= behind) , nach rechts (= to the right) , dahin (= there) , abwärts (= downhill) , aufwärts (= uphill) , dorthin (= over there) , hoch (= up) , runter (= down) ...
Beim Konzert stand ich ganz vorne an der Bühne.
= At the concert, I stand at the very front next to the stage.
Ich kam von links aber du hast mich nicht gesehen.
= I came from left but you didn’t see me.
Lass uns nach rechts gehen, dann sind wir schneller.
= Let’s go right, we will be quicker.

Time adverbs

gestern (= yesterday) , eben (= just) , nachher (= afterwards) , abends (= in the evening) , vorhin (= a moment ago) , jetzt (= now) , später (= later) , damals (= at that time) , heute (= today) ...
How long/often?
kurz (= shortly) , immer (= always) , selten (= seldom) , nie (= never) , manchmal (= sometimes) , oft (= often) , zwischendurch (= in the meantime) , seitdem (= since then) ...
From when/until when?
ab morgen (= from tomorrow) , ab sofort (= from immediately) , ab jetzt (= from now) , bis morgen (= until tomorrow) ...
Since when/how long?
seit gestern (= since yesterday) , seit morgens (= since the morning) , schon lange (= for a long time) , schon immer (= since always) , seit kurzem (= since recently) , noch nie (= never yet) ...
Wir müssen bald mal wieder schwimmen gehen.
= We must go swimming again soon.
Momentan gehe ich nur selten schwimmen.
= At the moment, I only seldom go swimming.
Ab morgen fange ich an regelmäßig schwimmen zu gehen.
= From tomorrow on, I’ll start going swimming regularly.
Seit kurzem gehe ich jeden Tag vor der Arbeit schwimmen.
= Lately, I have been going swimming before work everyday.

Remark: The adverb “seit” (= since) is often mixed up with the verb seid (= [you] are) (2nd person plural of sein (= to be) ) and written incorrectly. A way to avoid this mistake is seit (= since) = Zeit (= time) or the mnemonic sentence “Bei seit geht es um die Zeit.” (= “Seit” is about time.) .

Cause adverbs

Why? Under what condition?
also (= so) , deshalb (= therefore) , daher (= that’s why) , deswegen (= because of this) , darum (= that’s why) , dadurch (= thus) , folglich damit (= consequently) , hiermit (= hereby) , dazu (= at the same time) , jedenfalls (= in any case) , demnach (= therefore) , dennoch (= still) , dafür (= for that) , schließlich (= finally) , folglich (= consequently) ...
Mein Auto hatte einen Platten. Darum kam ich zu spät.
= My car had a puncture. This is why I came late.

Modal adverbs (adverbs of manner)

How? How much? How many?
Expressing degree and measure
anders (= differently) , äußerst (= extremely) , allzu (= all too) , beinahe (= nearly) , besonders (= particularly) , bekanntlich (= as is known) , ebenfalls (= likewise) , einigermaßen (= fairly) , fast (= almost) , folgendermaßen (= as follows) , ganz (= totally) , genauso (= exactly) , genug (= enough) , gern (= with pleasure) , kaum (= barely) , leider (= unfortunately) , möglicherweise (= possibly) , sehr (= very) , so (= so) , vielleicht (= maybe) , wirklich (= really) , ziemlich (= quite) ...
How? How much?
Expressing a restriction
allerdings (= indeed) , doch (= after all) , hingegen (= however) , immerhin (= after all) , jedoch (= however) , nur (= only) , wenigstens (= at least) , zumindest (= at least) ...
Expressing a widening
auch (= too) , außerdem (= besides) , ferner (= furthermore) , ebenfalls (= as well) , sonst (= otherwise) , zudem (= moreover) , erstens (= firstly) , zweitens (= secondly) , drittens (= thirdly) ...
Mit meinem neuen Kollegen komme ich einigermaßen zurecht. Dir würde es da genauso gehen.
= I get along fairly well with my new colleague. It would be the same for you.
Ich versuche zumindest immer freundlich zu ihm zu sein.
= At least I always try to always be friendly to him.
Er ist ebenfalls stets freundlich und nett.
= He is also always friendly and nice.

Comparison of adverbs

Barring a few exceptions, adverbs are not compared. The adverbs oft (= often) and wohl (= well) have two comparison forms:

positive comparative superlative
am öftesten
am häufigsten
am wohlsten
am besten

The irregular adverbs gern (= with pleasure) , bald (= soon) and sehr (= very) are also compared.

positive comparative superlative
am liebsten
am ehesten
am meisten

Comparison of adjectival adverbs

Adjectives used as adverbs can also be compared. In this case, the uninflected form of the comparative and the superlative with am + sten are used:

positive comparative superlative
am meisten
am wenigsten
am besten
am schnellsten
Er ist schnell gelaufen.
= He ran quickly.
Sie ist schneller gelaufen.
= She ran more quickly.
Der Profi ist am schnellsten gelaufen.
= The pro ran the most quickly.

Some adjectival adverbs have an additional superlative form with the ending -stens:

bestens (= at best) , höchstens (= at the highest) , schnellstens (= the most quickly) , wärmstens (= the most warmly)
Mir geht es bestens.
= I am very well.
Ich grüße dich wärmstens.
= I greet you very warmly.
Lass uns schnellstens hier weg.
= Let’s get out of here as quickly as possible.
Es kann höchstens noch einen Moment dauern.
= It can take a moment at most.

For many adverbs without a comparison form, the comparison can be formed by combining mehr (= more) or weiter (= further) (comparative) with am meisten (= at most) or am weitesten (= furthest) (comparative), e.g.:

Sie steht weiter vorne.
= She is standing further ahead.
Er steht am weitesten vorne.
= He is standing at the very front.
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