Ask Luís (#9): adverbs of manner in EP

Hi, everyone! Here’s another long-suffering question from Yuliya (sorry again for the lack of answers):

Olá, Luís! Tenho uma mais pergunta para fazer.

Encontro alguns advérbios em duas formas: na forma de adjetivo e com término -mente. Por exemplo, “ele fala rápido” e “ele fala rapidamente”. Ou “ele fala fluente” e “ele fala fluentemente”. São ambas formas corretas? É uma forma mais preferida?

Obrigada, Yuliya.

Thanks again for your questions and for your patience, Yuliya!

Strickly speaking, only the forms ending in -mente are correct, since it’s this suffix which changes the adjective into an adverb of manner (the equivalent of English -ly):

  • rápido/a (quick) > rapidamente (quickly)
  • fluente (fluent) > fluentemente (fluently)
  • veemente (vehement) > veementemente (vehemently)
  • louco/a (crazy) > loucamente (crazily)
  • lento/a (slow) > lentamente (slowly)

That said, in some cases the adverb may have the same form as the adjective; for example, muito/a (adjective/qualifier) but muito (adverb). The way to tell the difference is that they’re qualifying different things (adjectives are associated with nouns, adverbs with verbs and other parts of speech, including adjectives) and that adverbs are never declined according to gender or number, while adjectives are declined in both:

  • Ele tem muitas bananas. He has many bananas. (adjective)
  • Ele fala muito. He speaks a lot. (adverb)
  • Ele é muito bonito. He’s very beautiful (adverb, since you’re qualifying the adjective and not a noun).

This situation (adverb having the same form as the adjective) is also the case of rápido, which works a bit like the English fast. It seems like Brazilian Portuguese is much more keen on merging the two (for example, Ele fala rápido sounded more BP to me), but EP does that too (especially if there’s a qualifier like muito being added to the mix – I guess in Portugal we use Ele fala muito rápido more than just the regular form, if anything to emphasize the action).

I wouldn’t use Ele fala fluente, though; it just sounds weird to me. It that form, it really only makes sense as an adjective (for example, Ele fala inglês fluenteHe speaks fluent English; which is an equivalent, if distinct way of saying Ele fala inglês fluentementeHe speaks English fluently).

There are however a few modal constructs you can use to turn an adjective into an adverbial object (i.e. something that when added to an adjective will turn the whole structure into something with the same value as an adjective of manner with or without -mente). For example, de forma or de maneira (meaning in a way/in a manner):

  • Ele fala de maneira fluente. He speaks in a fluent manner (= He speaks fluently)
  • Ele fala de forma fluente. He speaks in a fluent way. (=He speaks fluently).

If you have any extra doubts, let me know in the comments :)

Good luck with your studies!


2 thoughts on “Ask Luís (#9): adverbs of manner in EP

    • luisdomingos November 28, 2016 / 11:27 am

      Hi, Yuliya! You’re welcome (and I’m sorry for the delay) :) I hope all is well over there and that you’re keep up with your studies!


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