Adverbs are used to describe verbs. They can describe where, how and how often something happens.

Adverbs of time, manner and place

Adverbs are short phrases or words which can be added to sentences to give more information about the action. Adverbs tell us:

  • When or how often something happens (every day, often, after school etc)
  • How the action is done (quickly, well etc) – including what the person doing the action thinks of it
  • Where it takes place (in town, here, nearby etc)

When and how often

When Translation How often Translation
manchmal Sometimes nächsten Sommer Next summer
oft Often am Samstag On Saturday
meistens Most of the time samstags On Saturdays
normalerweise Normally, usually morgens In the mornings
immer Always nachmittags In the afternoons
jeden Tag Every day abends In the evenings
gestern Yesterday nach dem Film After the film
heute Today vor der Schule Before school
morgen Tomorrow während der Woche During the week
letzte Woche Last week jetzt Now
dieses Jahr This year um 7 Uhr At 7:00
nie Never später/ spät Later/late
schon Already
sofort Immediately

How and the likelihood, when, or who with

How Translation Likelihood, when, or with Translation
gern Gladly (‘like’) vielleicht Maybe
nicht gern Not gladly (‘don’t like’) natürlich Of course
sehr gern Very gladly (‘like very much’) wahrscheinlich Probably
schnell Quickly sicher Certainly
langsam Slowly nicht Not
gut Well noch nicht Not yet
schön Beautifully mit Freunden With friends
leider Unfortunately zusammen Together
hoffentlich Hopefully mit Sarah With Sarah

Where and the specific location

Where Translation Location Translation
hier Here in der Stadt In town
dort/da There auf der Straße In the street
in der Nähe Nearby zu Hause At home
in der Schule At school bei mir At mine (my house)
in meinem Zimmer In my room bei meinem Freund At my friend’s house (male)
im Park In the park draußen Outside
in der Kneipe In the pub drinnen Indoors

Word order with adverbs

In German the word order always stays the same.

The adverb comes immediately after the verb.

  • Ich spiele gern Fußball -> (I gladly play football) I like playing football
  • Wir gehen jeden Tag zur Schule -> (We every day go to school) We go to school every day.
  • Meine Freundin sieht bei mir fern -> (My friend watches at mine TV) My friend watches TV at mine.
  • Mein Bruder geht wahrscheinlich zur Universität -> (My brother is going probably to university) My brother is probably going to university.

Time, manner and place

You may want to include more than one adverb in your sentence. When this happens, there is a strict order:

  1. Time (when)
  2. Manner (how)
  3. Place (where)

Notice how the word order in the English translation is different to German and how it keeps moving about?

Examples of time, manner and place in use

  • Time and place: Wir werden morgen nach der Schule in der Stadt ins Kino gehen -> We’re going to go to the cinema in town tomorrow after school.
  • Time and manner: Meine Schwester kann normalerweise gut singen -> My sister can usually sing well.
  • Time, manner and place: Ich spiele jeden Tag mit meinem Bruder im Park Fußball -> I play football every day in the park with my brother.

Higher students

In more complex sentences like these it can sound cluttered with three or more adverbs, all together, straight after the verb. It is possible to spread the adverbs out throughout the sentence to make it sound better but the time-manner-place order has to remain intact, eg ‘I play football every day in the park with my brother’ can be translated as follows:

  • Ich spiele jeden Tag mit meinem Bruder im Park Fußball.
  • Jeden Tag spiele ich mit meinem Bruder Fußball im Park.
  • Jeden Tag spiele ich Fußball mit meinem Bruder im Park.

They are all correct because the time-manner-place pattern has remained the same.

Common mistakes made by English speakers

  • Putting the adverb before the verb (like in English).
  • Getting the time-manner-place adverb order wrong.

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