Russian Language Grammar

    Qualifying Adverbs

These adverbs refer to the intrinsic characteristics of a notion which they qualify. They may pertain to verbs, adjectives, other adverbs and sometimes to nouns. 


Part of speech qualified

Он хорошо говорит.

Не speaks well.


Это очень интересная книга.

This book is very interesting.


Вы едете слишком быстро.

You are driving too last.


Чтение вслух очень полезно.

Reading aloud is very beneficial.


Qualifying adverbs are subdivided into adverbs of quality, adverbs of quantity (or measure), and adverbs of manner.

Adverbs Of Quality

These adverbs answer the question как? (how?). For instance: хорошо – well; плохо – badly; быстро – fast; медленно – slowly; громко – loudly; тихо – softly; странно – strangely; весело – cheerfully; иронически – ironically; саркастически – sarcastically; как-нибудь – somehow; наотрез – flatly, categorically.

Мы ехали быстро.

We were driving fast.

Это звучит странно.

This sounds strange.

сказать саркастически

to say sarcastically

отказаться наотрез

to refuse flatly

Usage of Adverbs of Quality

   (a) These adverbs usually qualify actions, as shown above. However, occasionally, they may not pertain to verbs:

Это стоило необычайно дорого. This was unusually expensive.
Он удивительно милый человек. Не is an awfully nice man (lit.: amazingly nice).

     (b) Comparative degree

Adverbs of quality which end in -o or -e may have a comparative degree. Its formation follows the rules given with the comparative degree of adjectives. There are two forms of the comparative: the simple, formed with the suffixes -ее (-ей),-ше, or -e and the compound, formed with the addition of более

быстро – быстрее (быстрей)


более быстро

красиво – красивее (красивей)


более красиво

высоко – выше


более высоко

просто – проще


более просто

Adverbs in -ски have only the compound form:

Он отнёсся к этому более критически, чем другие присутствующие.

He treated it more critically than any other people present.

The distinction between the comparatives of adverbs and adjectives is in their syntactical functions; the comparative of adverbs qualifies verbs – not nouns:


Эта книга лучше, чем та.

This book is better than that one.


Он читает лучше, чем пишет.

 He reads better than he writes.

The addition of пo- to the short form of some comparatives, mollifies the idea by implying "somewhat":

Это можно сделать попроще.

One could do it somewhat simpler.

Пишите нам почаще.

Write us more often (won't you?).

Remark: Some comparative degrees admit two variant forms. 








(the latter is used more frequently)




(the latter is used more frequently)

   (c) Superlative degree

The superlative degree of adverbs is formed from the superlative degree of adjectives by adding the suffix -e to their stem.

Superlative of adjective 

Superlative of adverb




– most strictly.

The superlative degree proper is used very seldom in current speech. It is found in a few isolated expressions:

Покорнейше прошу

I humbly request

строжайше запрещаю

I (most) strictly forbid

Он все подробнейше объяснил.

Не explained everything in greatest details.

The superlative degree is much more often conveyed with the aid of всего and всех added to the comparative.


Я больше всего люблю чтение.

I like reading better than anything else.

Он пришёл позже всех.

Не came later than anybody else.

Adverbs Of Quantity Or Measure

These adverbs answer the questions: сколько? (how much? how many?); как много? (how much? how many?); насколько? (how much? to what extent?); до какой степени? (how much? how far? up to what degree?). Frequently, the question is not stated but just implied:

– Вы устали?

– Да, я очень устал.

– Are you tired?

– Yes, I am very tired.

Some frequently used adverbs of quantity follow:
















much more, far more  


not at all




enough, sutficicnt






barely, hardly


too, too much




completely, entirely


(very) little


a lot, (very)


quite, entirely much, at all


frightfully, awfully




too, too much, excessively




a little bit

Also:  вдвое – double, twice as; втрое – thrice as; дважды – twice; трижды – thrice; etc.

Usage of Adverbs of Quantity or Measure

   (a)   As a general rule, these adverbs may qualify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.



Part of speech qualified

Я очень люблю её.

I love her very much.


Это очень красиво.

This is very pretty.


Сейчас очень рано.

It is very early (now).


Я совершенно не понимаю.

I don't understand at all.


Ресторан совершенно пустой.

The restaurant is totally empty.


совершенно ясно написано

quite clearly written


    (b)   Много, мало, дважды, трижды qualify only verbs, as a rule*; много is occasionally used with the comparative degree of adjectives.

Я много работаю.

I work a lot.

Вы мало спите.

You sleep very little.

Он дважды звонил мне.

Не telephoned me twice.

 * Unlike the numerals ("indefinite-cardinals") "много" and "мало" which do qualify nouns: много книг; мало времени.

  (c)   Adverbs of quantity or measure very rarely qualify nouns. Sentences, such as the following are encountered infrequently:

Мы с ним немного приятели.

We are on rather friendly terms.

Он почти старик.

Не is almost an old man (by now).

   (d)   The usage of a few selected adverbs deserves comments: гораздо, вдвое, втрое are used only with the comparative degree.

Этот дом гораздо лучше, но он стоит вдвое дороже.

This house is far better but it costs twice as much.

Он говорит гораздо лучше, чем я.

Не speaks much better than I.


Совсем, вполне, очень, and много are used in the following ways:

  • Совсем means quite, completely, entirely.

Это совсем близко.

This is quite near.

Я совсем забыл.

I quite (completely) forgot.

Это совсем другое дело..

This is an entirely different matter.

Note:   Frequently, совсем will be used in a negative statement, whereas вполне or очень will be used with a positive one:

Я совсем не понимаю.

I do not understand at all.

Я вполне понимаю.

I quite understand.

Я совсем не согласен.

I don't agree at all.

Я вполне согласен.

I quite agree.

Это совсем недалеко.

It is not far at all.

Это очень далеко.

It is quite far.

  • Очень may qualify adjectives, adverbs, and verbs. It expresses a degree, a certain intensity:

очень милый

very nice

очень далеко

very far

Я её очень люблю.

I love her very much.

  • Много, when functioning as an adverb, qualifies verbs. In contrast to очень, it expresses an amount, a quantity:

Он много работает.

Не works a lot.

Они много сделали для нас.

They did a lot (very much) for us.


 Довольно – достаточно 

  • Довольно means rather or enough. Достаточно means enough, sufficient. Not enough is usually translated by недостаточно, мало, слишком мало. 

Он довольно хорошо говорит по-русски.

Не speaks Russian rather well.

Так довольно?

Is this enough (sufficient)?

У вас достаточно денег?

Do you have enough money?

Я не еду в Европу. У меня недостаточно денег для этого и слишком мало времени.

I am not going to Europe. I don't have enough money for that and I don't have enough time.


Почтичуть не 

  • Почти means almost and refers to something which is still to be attained:

Она почти готова.

She is almost, ready.

Я почти всё кончил.

I have finished almost everything.

Уже почти семь часов.

It is already almost seven.

  • Чуть не means almost and refers to something avoided:

Мы чуть не опоздали.

We were almost late.

Он чуть не умер от этого.

Не almost died from it.

Adverbs Of Manner

These adverbs answer the questions:  как? (how?); каким образом? (how? in what manner?); каким способом? (in what way? by what method?)

They do not imply a characteristic which may exist to a greater or lesser extent and, therefore, do not have a comparative degree. Therein lies the difference between them and adverbs of quality in -o and -e (which aiso answer the question: как?). Some currently used adverbs of manner and two examples follow: 






on horseback




close, close up to


in an undertone




by heart


сlean, fair


on foot


in a whisper


Они говорили шёпотом.

They spoke in a whisper.

Я люблю ездить верхом.

I like horseback riding.

These adverbs pertain to verbs, and sometimes to nouns related to verbs:

говорить вполголоса

читать вслух

ездить верхом

разговор вполголоса

чтение вслух

езда верхом

Very closely related to adverbs of manner are adverbs of comparison. Most of them have the prefix пo-:

встретить по-братски

to meet as a brother (in a brotherly way)

выть по-волчьи

to howl as a wolf

одеваться по-летнему

to dress in summer clothes (as if it were summer)

шницель по-венски

wienerschnitzel (veal steak as made in Vienna)

кофе по-турецки

coffee Turkish-style

судак по-польски

pike-perch Polish fashion (a la polonaise)

Note:   In contrast to the last two examples, пo- pertaining to the language of a country no longer means "in the manner of":

говорить по-турецки

to speak Turkish

читать по-польски

to read Polish

письмо по-русски

a letter in Russian

Finally, one more subtype of adverbs of manner are those formed from the instrumental case of nouns:

поднимать пыль столбом

to raise dust (in a column)

лететь стрелой

to fly like an arrow

Usage of Adverbs in -ски

Some adverbs in -ски may be used with or without the prefix пo-. The use of prefix softens the adverb somewhat:

Мы дружески расстались.

Он принял меня по-дружески.

We parted friends.

Не received me as a friend.

детски беспомощный

Вы рассуждаете по-детски.

childishly helpless

You reason as if you were a child.

Note:   Adverbs having the suffix -ич do not take the prefix пo-:

физически невозможно

physically impossible

теоретически, это так

theoretically, this is so