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German Adverbs (das Adverb)

Adverbs are words that do not change (they are not declined) and they modify the verb’s meaning, an adjective or other adverb.

adverbios locales

Types of adverbs

Temporal adverbs

Temporal adverbs dealing with the day

AdverbMeaning
vorgestern the day before yesterday
gestern yesterday
heute today
morgen tomorrow
übermorgen the day after tomorrow

Subjective Temporal Adverbs

AdverbMeaning
damals then
früher earlier
jetzt now
sofort immediately
gleich immediately
bald soon
später later
dann after/then

Temporal adverb gerade

The adverb gerade is used to make the present continuous in German:

Ich lese gerade die Zeitung
I am reading the newspaper

Adverbs of Frequency

Adverbs of Absolute Frequency

AdverbMeaning
immer always
fast immer almost always
meistens most of the time
häufig frequently
oft often
ab und zu once in a while
manchmal sometimes
selten rarely
fast nie almost never
nie never

Adverbs of daily frequency

AdverbMeaning
morgens in the morning
nachmittagsin the afternoon
abends in the evening
nachts during the night

Adverbs of weekly frecuency

AdverbMeaning
montags on Mondays
dienstags on Tuesdays
mittwochs on Wednesdays
donnerstags on Thursdays
freitags on Fridays
samstags on Saturdays
sonntags on Sundays

Other adverbs of frequency

AdverbMeaning
täglich daily
wöchentlich weekly
monatlich monthly
jährlich yearly/annually

Forming temporal adverbs by adding an -s

Often, temporal adverbs of frequency are formed from nouns with an "–s" added on. At first, this construction creates a bit of confusion among students of German.

NounAdverb
der Abend
the evening
abends
in the evenings
der Halbtag
half a day
halbtags
half-day
der Feiertag
the holiday
feiertags
every holiday

Locative Adverbs

oben und unten

Locative adverbs of place

AdverbMeaning
vorn / vorne in front
hinten behind
links on the left
rechts on the right
oben up
unten down
innen inside
außen outside
hier here
da there
dort there
überall everywhere
nirgends nowhere
hinein

Locative adverbs with the particles "hin" and "her". The particles "hin" and "her" denote the direction of movement with respect to the person that is speaking. These particles are used often to make adverbs.

Here are some examples so that you understand better:

hinein

If my child and I are outside of the house and I want to tell him to go inside (for example, to do his chores), I’d say:

Geh hinein!
Go inside!






heraus

heraus

If I am outside of the house and my child is inside and I want him to come out (for example, to cut the grass), I’d say:

Komm heraus!
Come outside!



herein

herein

If I am inside the house and my son is playing in the garden and I want him to come in (for example, to eat), I’d say:

Komm herein!
Come inside!


hinaus

hinaus

If my child and I are inside the house and I want to tell him to go out (for example, to play in the garden), I’d say:

Geh hinaus!
Go outside!

Locative adverbs that indicate movement

AdverbMeaning
aufwärts upwards
abwärts downwards
vorwärts forwards
rückwärts backwards
heimwärts homeward
westwärts to the west
bergauf uphill
bergab downhill

Construction of locative adverbs by adding an -s

In German, locative adverbs are also formed by adding an "–s" to nouns.

NounLocative adverb
das Rechte
right
rechts
to the right
die Linke
left
links
to the left

Causal Adverbs

Causal adverbs indicate the reason or origin of an action.

AdverbMeaning
deshalb therefore
darum therefore
deswegen therefore
folglich thus/consequently
daher therefore

Causal adverbs serve as a connection between two sentences, given that they’re Konjunktionaladverbien

Ich möchte in Deutschland leben, deshalb lerne ich gerade Deutsch
I would like to live in Germany, therefore I am learning German

It must be emphasized that adverbs occupy a position and by placing them at the beginning of a sentence, they move the subject to the 3rd position.

Main Article: Sentence structure

Adverbs of manner

AdverbMeaning
erstens firstly
zweitens secondly
drittens thirdly
auch also
ebenfalls as well
ansonsten otherwise
außerdem in addition

Restrictive adverbs

AdverbMeaning
nur only
wenigstens at least
hingegen on the other hand

Adverbs of quantity

AdverbMeaning
sehr very
kaum hardly

gern / gerne

The adverb "gern" is used often in German and it’s equivalent is "gladly".

The construction "Ich hätte gern…" is very common in German and means "I would like to" and is used to politely order something.

gern or gerne are exactly the same but gern is used more often.

Pronoun Adverbs

Pronoun adverbs are the combination of a preposition and a pronoun and are used only to refer to things (not for living things).

Adverbs "da-" + preposition

The adverbs "da-" + preposition are used very often and their translation depends greatly on the context:

Ich habe nicht daran gedacht
I didn’t think about that

AdverbMeaning
daran (or dran) at it (preposition an)
darauf (or drauf) on it (preposition auf)
darausfrom it (preposition aus)
dabeipresent (preposition bei)
dagegenagainst it (preposition gegen)
darinin it (preposition in)
damitwith it (preposition mit)
darüberabout it (preposition über)
darumtherefore (preposition um)
dazuadditionally (preposition zu)

The prepositions are not exactly the same in German and English and thus the translation is not exact. Check out prepositions to get the best translation in every case.

Adverbs hier + preposition

The adverbs "hier-" + preposition have practically the same meaning as adverbs da + "preposition" though they are used much less often. Their meaning depends greatly on the context.

AdverbMeaning
hieran at this (preposition an)
hierauf on this (preposition auf)
hieraus from this (preposition aus)
hierbei with this or at this (preposition bei)
hiergegen against this (preposition gegen)
hierin in this (preposition in)
hiermit with this (preposition mit)
hierüber about this (preposition über)
hierzu for this (preposition zu)

Interrogative adverbs

Main article: Interrogative particles

The most important interrogative adverbs are:








Wie (how)
  • Wie alt (how old)
  • Wie viel (how much/many)
  • Wie lange (how long)
  • Wie oft (how often)
  • Wie teuer (how expensive)
  • Wie weit (how far)

Wo (where)
  • Woran (whereof)
  • Worauf (where upon)
  • Woraus (what from)
  • Wobei (in which/ whereat)
  • Wogegen (against what)
  • Worin (wherein)
  • Womit (whereby)


  • Worüber (what about)
  • Worum (what about)
  • Wozu (what for)


  • Wohin (where to)
  • Woher (from where)

Comparative and superlative with adverbs

Some adverbs can make comparatives and superlatives like adjective. This is the case with "bald", "gern", "oft", and "wohl".

AdverbComparativeSuperlative
bald
soon
eher
sooner
am ehesten
soonest
gern
gladly
lieber
preferably
am liebsten
most preferably
oft
often
öfter
more often
am häufigsten
most often
wohl
well
wohler
better
am wohlsten
best

Adjectives functioning like adverbs

In many cases, adjectives can function like adverbs:

Das Auto ist schnell [schnell as an adjective]
The car is fast

Sie isst schnell [schnell as an adverb]
She eats fast



4 Comments

#4 [eduardo]2016-08-09 21:27
sometimes I don't know if a word modifies what is prior or what comes after. For example, "Dabei leitete Edward in erster Linie das Bemühen eine Perspektive aufzuzeigen..." Does "in erster Linie" here mean that it was primarily Edward who guided the effort? Or does in erster Linie here mean what Edward guided was primarily the effort to show a perspective?

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