The most common types of German adverbs
Published on December 5, 2023 / Updated on December 12, 2023
How did it happen? When did it happen, and where? These questions may sound like they’re part of an emergency call, but they demonstrate why adverbs are so important. The ability to describe actions with adverbs is a part of everyday life, and German adverbs play a big role in adding specificity to daily conversation.
Let’s explore the most common types of German adverbs, find out how to spot them and learn how to use more than one adverb in a sentence.
In German, Adverbien (adverbs) are also called Umstandswörter (circumstance words) because they are used to describe the circumstances of actions. While adjectives describe nouns, adverbs describe verbs, adjectives and other adverbs.
Three of the most commonly used types of adverbs are adverbs of time, place, and manner. Other types of adverbs describe causality, frequency and quantity.
Adverbs are non-inflectional, which means that you don’t have to adapt them to the gender, number or case of a word. Some adverb exceptions can be changed to the comparative and superlative forms, but otherwise they stay the same.
The most frequent types of German adverbs are more easily recognizable if you know how to ask the right questions. Here are some questions that help you to recognize the adverbs and their specific types:
As is often the case in German grammar, there is no general rule for forming German adverbs. Many adverbs simply exist as adverbs, which means that you will have to learn them by heart. However, there are some cases in which you will be able to recognize the adverb’s origin.
Some adverbs are composed of a noun plus a suffix like -weise or –s. Consider the following examples:
There are also adjectives that become adverbs by adding the suffix -weise. For example, dumm (stupid) becomes dummer-weise (stupidly). This is somewhat comparable to the use of the English suffix “-ly” for adverbs, though it does not apply to all German adverbs.
Here is how to use the construction in a basic German sentence structure: Unglaublicherweise ist nichts passiert. (Incredibly, nothing happened.)
Adverbs of time are also called Temporaladverbien (temporal adverbs). They specify when an action occurs. You can also use them to describe how frequently something happens.
So, if you want to express that you’re attending your German course daily, you’d say: Ich gehe täglich zu meinem Deutschkurs. The adverb täglich clarifies that the verb gehen (attending) occurs every day.
Examples of adverbs of time:
German adverbs of place are also referred to as Lokaladverbien (local adverbs). They’re used to specify where an action occurred.
Examples of adverbs of place:
German adverbs of manner specify how something happens, or in which manner something occurs. They are also referred to as Modaladverbien. Keep in mind that some adverbs can be used as adjectives, as well.
Examples of adverbs of manner:
Sometimes, you might find yourself wanting to use more than one adverb in a sentence. For these situations, there is a specific rule for the order of adverbs: Time, Manner, Place (TMP). This rule prevents your German sentences from sounding clunky and unnatural.
For example, if you’d like to state that you’ve been training rigorously at the gym today, you’d order the adverbs differently than you would in English:
Just like in English, German adverbs are used to describe actions more precisely. In comparison to adjectives, which are used to describe nouns, adverbs accompany verbs, adjectives or other adverbs.
There are many categories of German adverbs, but the most frequently used adverbs help to clarify the time, place or manner of an action. There is no general rule on how to form adverbs, but some are formed by adding a suffix to a noun or an adjective.