What are adverbs and frequency adverbs

What adverbs are, create adverbs from adjectives, and use frequency adverbs

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KanjiVocabularyWhat are adverbs and frequency adverbs



Whole, Entire, All

So, If so, Sort of thing

Resist, Touch

Drink, Take





Mostly, Usually






Not at all, Entirely, Totally




Not very, Not much, Rarely


To drink, To take

What are adverbs and frequency adverbs

By now we have come seen adverbs such as よく and たくさん in the Yomimono curriculum. Adverbs are words that add detail to sentences such as "widely", "energetically", and "sometimes". Adverbs themselves do not change forms but they usually (but not always) come before the words that do change forms such as adjectives and verbs.

Adverbs are pretty flexible in terms of their position within a sentence and they don't need to be followed by particles.

  • よくわたし電車でんしゃります。
  • I often take trains
  • わたしはよく電車でんしゃります。
  • I often take trains
  • わたし電車でんしゃによくります。
  • I often take trains

The sentences above show the adverb よく being used in different positions within sentences. All sentences are grammatically correct and よく describes the verb in all cases.

How to create adverbs from adjectives

Adverbs can be created from both い-adjectives and な-adjectives just like in English putting "ly" turns many words into adverbs such as nicely and quietly.


Remove from the end of the adjective and add to turn い-adjectives into adverbs.

  • The adjective やすい becomes やす
  • The adjective あたらしい becomes あたらしく
and adjectives which ends with such as かっこいい are exceptions to the rule. has to use the reading よい not いい but the adverb for it is よく not いく. In fact, that's the adjective we used at the beginning of the lesson which means "often". よく still holds the meaning good and means "nicely" and "well" as well.


Add to the end of dictionary forms of な-adjectives to form adverbs.

  • The adjective きれい becomes きれいに
  • The adjective 元気げんき becomes 元気げんき

Adverbs of frequency

The table below shows commonly used adverbs that express frequency.

全然ぜんぜんNot at all

As we have discussed at the beginning of this lesson, the position of adverbs within a sentence is pretty flexible and they do not change forms. In the table above, some adverbs are shown in kanji but it's very common to write them in hiragana too. The bottom two adverbs which are あまり and 全然ぜんぜん are used in negative sentences.

Below are some example sentences of frequency adverbs in use:

  • そらはいつもきれいです。
  • The sky is always beautiful.
  • 友達ともだち大抵たいてい学校がっこうにいます。
  • My friend is usually at school.
  • よく友達ともだちあそびます。
  • I often hang out with my friends.
  • 時々ときどきコーヒーをみます。
  • I sometimes drink coffee.
  • たまにはないます。
  • I occasionally buy some flowers.
  • あにとあまりはなしません。
  • I rarely talk with my older brother.
  • 全然ぜんぜんははいません。
  • I don't see my mother at all.

Adverbs of degree

There are a lot of other kinds of adverbs but here we will introduce you to the three adverbs that can express the degree of something. They can be used to modify not only verbs and adjectives but also nouns and other adverbs.

あまりあまりNot very
全然ぜんぜんNot at all

You might have noticed that the bottom two adverbs on the table are the same as the ones in the frequency adverb table. Some adverbs have multiple meanings and can be used on multiple occasions. Just like explained before, あまり and 全然ぜんぜん are used in negative sentences.

  • おとうとはとてもよくべます。
  • My younger brother eats very well.
  • あの映画えいが全然ぜんぜんよくなかったです。
  • The movie wasn't good at all.
  • 電車でんしゃはあまりきじゃないです。
  • I don't like trains very much.
  • あのひととは全然ぜんぜん友達ともだちじゃないです。
  • I am not friends with that person at all.

The first two example sentences both have the word よく. In the first sentence, とても modifies the adverb よく and よく modifies the verb べる. In the second sentence, よく is an adjective in the negative form and it's modified by the adverb 全然ぜんぜん.

In addition to the uses with negative sentences above, 全然ぜんぜん can also be used with affirmative sentences and mean "entirely". For example, 全然ぜんぜん元気げんき is "totally fine" and 全然ぜんぜん is "entirely good". The use of 全然ぜんぜん in affirmative sentences is fairly new and casual so you probably won't see them in writing and formal situations but see them a lot when talking to friends.

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