Forming adverbs (gli avverbi)

Grammatica centrale

In Italian, adverbs typically precede the words that they modify. Italian adverbs come in three main types: simple, derived, and compound.

The simple ones are single words whose only function is to be an adverb, like sempre, tardi, etc.

Derived adverbs are those that are formed from adjectives by adding the suffix -mente, such as lentamente or dolcemente. The can also be formed from nouns and verbs by adding the suffix -oni, such as gattoni (on all fours) or ruzzoloni (tumbling down).1

Compound adverbs are those that are made up of two or more words, like dappertutto, infatti, and so on.

Adverbs can also be phrasal, such as di sera, poco fa, and so on.

Many (derived) adverbs are formed from adjectives, which are quite common in spoken and written Italian. To form them:

  1. Add the suffix -mente to the end of the feminine for of an adjective if it has one.

    • If the adjective ends in -e, just add the -mente to the end: intelligente becomes intelligentemente.

    • BUT…if the adjective ends in -re, you need to drop the last -e: celere become celermente.

    • BUT STILL…if the adjective ends in -le, you also need to drop the last -e: visibile => visibilmente

  2. You can also form adjectives use the expression in modo by simply placing the adjective after the expression: veloce => in modo veloce = velocemente

Can you think of any adverbs that fall into the simple (also called primitive or primitivi), derived, or compound that are common and useful for our readers to know?


Gattoni comes from the noun gatto (cat). Ruzzoloni comes from the verb ruzzolare, which means to fall/tumble.