Russian Language Grammar

    Formation of Adverbs

An adverb is a non-inflected part of speech. Adverbs do not have gender, case or number. They never change – except qualitative adverbs in or -e which have a comparative and a superlative degree.

Adverbs are formed from various parts of speech, among which adjectives figure most prominently.

Adverbs Formed from Adjectives

1. Adverbs ending in -о or -e

They coincide with the neuter short form of an adjective, and usually have the same stress. This is a very large class of adverbs:

Это озеро красиво. (adj.) 

This lake is beautiful.

Она красиво (adv.) поёт.

She sings beautifully.

Occasionally, the stress will vary:

Это озеро глубоко. (adj.)

This lake is deep.

Вы глубоко (adv.) неправы.

You are completely (lit. deeply) wrong.

Notes :

(a) Not all qualitative adjectives can form adverbs. The following do not:

  • Certain adjectives pertaining to colors: голубой – blue, sky–blue; коричневый – brown; розовый - pink, etc.

  • Adjectives with the suffix -ов: даровой – free (of charge), gratis; передовой – foremost, advanced. 

(b) There are very few adverbs ending in -е and formed from soft adjectives. To name some: крайне – extremely; внешне – out-wardly; излишне – unnecessarily; неуклюже – awkwardly; искренне (also: искренно) – sincerely.


крайне интересно

most (extremely) interesting

внешне спокойный

outwardly calm

искренне ваш

sincerely yours

(c) Some soft adjectives form adverbs ending in -о: раннийрано (early); поздний поздно (late); давнийдавно (a long time ago, for a long time).

(d) As a rule, adverbs in -o or -e are not formed from relative adjectives. Exceptions are a few prefixed adverbs, referring to time, sequence, order: поминутно – each minute; досрочно – before term; поочерёдно – in turn; ежемесячно – every month, etc.


2. Adverbs in -ски and -цки.

These adverbs are formed from adjectives ending in -ский or -цкий. They may, or may not have the prefix по- : иронически – ironically; страдальчески – painfully; по-женски – woman-like; по-русски – in a Russian manner; по-турецки – in a Turkish manner.


3. Adverbs formed from the once existing oblique cases of short adjectives: надолго – for a long time; направо – to (on) the right; слева – from (on) the left; понемногу – gradually; вполне – entirely, and many others.


4. Adverbs formed from the long form of various adjectives (mostly with the prefix пo-):

  • From qualitative adjectives: по-старому – as before; по-новому – in a new way.

  • From relative adjectives: по-лётнему – in a summer fashion; пo-зимнему – in a winter fashion.


5. Some adverbs are formed from adjectives-participles: вызывающе – challengingly; раздражающе – irritatingly, etc.

Adverbs Formed from Nouns

1.  Non-prefixed adverbs are formed mostly from the instrumental singular:  утром – in the morning; днём – in the afternoon; весной – in the spring; кругом – around; etc.

These adverbs are very numerous, while those formed from the instru­mental plural are infrequent:  временами – every now and then; вечерами – in the evenings; местами – here and there.

A few adverbs are formed from cases other than the instrumental: дома – at home (from the genitive); сейчас – now (from the accusative); правда – truly (from the nominative);   etc.

Note: A few adverbs were formed from nouns which no longer exist: босиком – barefoot; без умолку – (talking) ceaselessly; без ведома – without knowledge, etc.

Other adverbs are only loosely connected with the original noun. Thus: даром (free, gratis) does not really imply a gift ("дар"); рядом (next, nearby) does not necessarily mean "in a row" ("ряд"), etc.


2.  Prefixed adverbs have been readily formed from various cases.


GEN. издали – from afar; снизу – from below
DAT. кстати – by the way; посредине – in the middle
ACC. наконец – finally; вперёд – forward
INSTR. замужем – married (of a woman)
PREP. вместе – together; внизу – below


3.  Finally, there are quite a few combinations of nouns (or phraseological units) which are regarded as adverbs:

день за днём

day after day

шаг за шагом

step after step

лицом к лицу

face to face

слово в слово

word for word

время от времени

from time to time

со дня на день

any day (now)

изо дня в день

day after day

вверх дном

upside down

раз и навсегда

once and for all


Adverbs Formed from Numerals

A few adverbs are formed from ordinal numerals: сперва – at first; впервые – for the first time; во-первых – in the first place; во-вторых – secondly; etc.

Some are formed from cardinal and collective numerals: наедине – in private, alone; однажды – once; дважды – twice; вдвое – double, twice; etc.

Adverbs Formed from Verbs

   (a) These adverbs may be formed from participles: умоляюще – imploringly; вызывающе – defiantly

   (b) Others are formed from gerunds: шутя – easily, without effort (lit. jokingly); немедля – without delay; молча – silently

These adverbs include a few set expressions, such as спустя рукава, сложа руки.

   (c)   Может быть and почти are adverbs of verbal origin. [Почти is the imperative mood of the verb "почесть" - to count, to consider. Thus, почти два часа (almost two hours) meant "consider: two hours."]

Adverbs Formed from Pronouns

   (a)   The origin of these adverbs is readily visible in the following types:

Adverbs formed from possessive pronouns, such as: по-моему; по-вашему; по-своему. 

Adverbs formed from the pronouns что, тот and сей, such as: почему (from по чему); отчего (from от чего); оттого (from от того); затем (from за тем); теперь (from то перво); сейчас (from сей час)

   (b)   In other instances, the derivation is not obvious and presents mainly a historical interest. These pronominal adverbs are also called primary or simple: везде; здесь; туда

Adverbs Formed from Other Adverbs

These adverbs are formed with the aid of particles or prepositions: где-нибудь; куда-то; никогда; послезавтра; позавчера, etc.