How to use adverbs in Spanish?

 A person walking down a historical road along a body of water.

Adverbs, both in Spanish and in English, are words that describe a verb (action words) (habla rápidamente — she speaks quickly), an adjective (description words) (es muy inteligente — she is very intelligent), or another adverb (come muy lentamente — she eats very slowly). Adverbs are great additions to our speech because we can use them to add information about an action or other modifiers. For the most part, adverbs in Spanish and in English work in a similar manner. In this post we will focus on some special aspects about adverbs that are different from English: where to place them, how to form them, adverbs of place, and adverbs of time. Are you ready to get started with adverbs, their rules, and how to use them? Follow along!

Table of Contents

Types of adverbs in Spanish

In Spanish, as in English, we have different types of adverbs which provide different types of information. Here are the types of adverbs in Spanish and how to get some additional information about some of them:

  1. Adverbs of place — they answer the question “where?”
    Voy para allá. I’m going over there.
  2. Adverbs of quantity/amount — they answer the question “how much?”
    Tengo bastante. I have enough.
  3. Adverbs of negation — used in negative sentences
    Nunca te dirán la verdad. They will never tell you the truth.
  4. Relative adverbs — used to link relative clauses
    Esta es la casa donde vivió Frida Kahlo. This is the house where Frida Kahlo lived.
  5. Adverbs of time — they answer the question “when?”
    ¿Por qué llegas hasta ahora? Why are you arriving now?
  6. Adverbs of manner — they answer the question “how?”
    Mi abuelita camina muy lentamente. My grandma walks very slowly.
  7. Interrogative adverbs — used as question words
    ¿Cómo lo hiciste?        How did you do it?
  8. Adverbs of affirmation — that add strength or soften statements
    te ayudé.      I did help you.
  9. Adverbs of doubt — used to add uncertainty
    Quizás nadie se dio cuenta. Maybe nobody noticed.

For more, check out
this list of Spanish adverbs!

Rules for placing adverbs in Spanish

While adverbs are description words, unlike adjectives, they do not match in gender and number with the word they describe — they are invariable. When it comes to placement, adverbs follow a few rules that do not necessarily follow what we do with adverbs in English.

  1. When we use adverbs to describe verbs, we will place them after the verb.
    La chica corrió rápidamente por el parque.
    The girl ran quickly through the park.
  2. If the adverb is describing an adjective or another adverb, we will put it before those words.
    Estoy extremadamente emocionada porque mañana salgo para España.
    I am extremely excited because tomorrow I leave for Spain.

    Ella habla español muy bien. She speaks Spanish very well.
    muy is qualifying bien.

  3. In Spanish, adverbs can’t be placed between two verbs or between auxiliary verbs and main verbs. For example, in English, we could say “I have always eaten dinner at 6 pm.” In Spanish, we can’t split the auxiliary (have) from the second part of the verb (eaten). In order to build this, we say:
    Yo siempre he comido la cena a las 6 pm.

In English we would say “I have not been to Spain.” However, In Spanish, we say:
Yo no he visitado España.

How to build adverbs of manner in Spanish?

In Spanish, we use adjectives as the “starting point” to build adverbs of manner (how?). You can easily identify them in English because they end in -ly and in Spanish because they end in mente (-ly). In order to build them, follow these steps:

Step #1: Take the feminine form of an adjective.
completo (complete) → completa (feminine version)
Step #2: Attach –mente at the end.
completamente (completely)


If the adjective ends with an -e or consonant, keep it in that form and then add “-mente.” For example:
elegante (elegant) → elegantemente (elegantly)
veloz (quick) → velozmente (quickly)

As an additional little rule, if you find yourself using multiple adverbs one after the other, leave all of the first few in the feminine form (or if it ends with -e or consonant, its original form), and add the -mente only to the last one. For example:
El león se acercó a su presa lenta, silenciosa y cuidadosamente.
The lion approached its prey slowly, quietly, and carefully.

Finally, if the adjective originally has an accent, you keep it when you build the adverb. For example:
rápido (quick) → rápidarápidamente (quickly)

  • Many adjectives can be turned into adverbs by adding -mente, however, this doesn’t work all the time! Certain adjectives can’t be turned into adverbs because it doesn’t make sense to use them to describe a verb: colors, nationalities, etc.

  • As a general rule, if an adverb ends in “-ly” in English, it can end in -mente in Spanish. However, this is not always the case. Some Spanish adverbs do not come from an adjective, and therefore are not formed by adding -mente: mal (badly), despacio (slowly), pronto (quickly), etc.

Now let’s switch gears and talk about adverbs of place. Ready?

The three degrees of distance in Spanish

In English, we express distance as “here” if something is close to the speaker or “there” if it is far. In Spanish, we have three different “levels” of how far away something is: aquí (here), ahí (there), allá (over there). Check out the following drawing to get a better idea:


Now, let’s get a little more in depth with these adverbs of place:

  • Aquí (here) is used to talk about a specific location near the person speaking. If you are referring to time, aquí (here) implies a specific starting point, like “right now.” For example:

Estos zapatos rojos aquí están muy bonitos. ¿Qué piensas?
These red shoes here are very pretty. What do you think?
De aquí en adelante espero que me digas a qué hora vas a llegar a la casa, por favor.
From here on out I hope you tell me at what time you will arrive home, please.

  • Did you notice acá (here) on the diagram? Basically, both acá and aquí mean “here,” but while aquí is used to talk about “here” as a place, acá is used to talk about “here” with a notion of movement.
    For example:
Los libros están aquí.
The books are here.

This example is for the place/location of the books!
Trae los libros acá.
Bring the books here.

In this one, the books need to move from “there” to “here” and we are using a verb of movement: traer (to bring).
  • Ahí (there) is used to talk about things that are close, but not easily within the reach of the person speaking. Conversely, it refers to something close to the listener or audience as you can see on the diagram above. For example:
    Oye, ¿podrías pasarme esa gorra ahí?
    Hey, could you hand me that hat there?
    (The hat is near, but I can’t reach it! The listener is way closer than me!)
  • Allá (over there) will refer to things or people that are far away from the speaker (usually out of sight). For example:
    La casa de José queda allá por el centro. Está como a media hora de aquí.
    José’s house is over there near downtown. It’s about half an hour from here.

Adverbs of place are often paired with Spanish demonstrative adjectives (“this,” “that,” “those,” etc). As a reminder, you can check out our post to get a refresher on how to use them!

Adverbs of time in Spanish

Adverbs of time, as we mentioned in the introduction, talk about time, duration, or frequency of something. They will often answer questions, such as “how long?,” “when?,” etc. In Spanish, there are a few adverbs of time that are especially challenging for language learners. Here, we will focus on the following adverbs of time:

  • Ya (no) (already) vs todavía (no) (still, yet) vs aún (no) (still, yet)
  • Luego (then) vs entonces (then)

‘Ya (no)’ vs ‘todavía (no)’ vs ‘aún (no)’

  • Ya (already) is an adverb that changes meaning depending on the tense of the sentence. In the past, it indicates that something was done, similar to the use of “already” in English. If used with the present, it means “right now,” and when used in the future it can mean “eventually.” For example:
    Past → Hay que apurarnos, la película ya comenzó.
    We need to hurry, the movie has already started.
    Present→ Dame ya la respuesta, por favor.
    Give me the answer right now, please.
    Future→ Ellos ya te dirán si pueden ir.
    They will eventually tell you if they can go.

When we say ya no, however, it means something is no longer valid or does not exist at that moment. In English, ya no would be similar to “not anymore” or “no longer.”
Cuando me preguntaron cómo me iba con el ballet, les respondí que ya no lo practico.
When they asked me how ballet was going, I answered that I do not practice it anymore.

⤷TIP Ya is often used to emphasize a statement. In English, the equivalent would be to add an emphatic tone to the sentence.
¡Ya sé!                    I know!
¡Ya casi termino!   I’m almost done!
¡Ya voy!                  I’m coming!

  • Todavía (still, yet) implies the continuation of something, it implies something has been happening until now.
    Carla dijo que su bebé todavía estaba durmiendo y por eso no puede venir.
    Carla said her baby was still sleeping (until now) and that’s why she is not coming.

When we say todavía no, it implies something has not been done up until a certain point.
Toqué la puerta, pero todavía no abren.
I knocked on the door, but they have not opened yet.

  • Aún (still, yet) is very similar to todavía. They can be used interchangeably. The same happens with aún no. Look at the same examples from above, but with aún (still, yet):
    Carla dijo que su bebé aún estaba durmiendo y por eso no puede venir.
    Carla said her baby was still sleeping (until now) and that’s why she is not coming.
    Toqué la puerta, pero aún no abren.
    I knocked on the door, but they have not opened yet.

⤷TIP Aun without an accent means “even.” It’s interchangeable with incluso (even).
Aun los mejores estudiantes sacaron mala nota. Even the best students got a bad grade.

‘Luego’ vs ‘entonces’ (then)

While both luego and entonces can be translated as “then,” there are some differences in their use.

  • In Spanish, we use entonces to talk about “then” as “at that point in time.” For example:
    Primero tengo que ir al súper. Entonces tendré lo que necesito para cocinar la cena.
    First I need to go to the supermarket. Then (at that time) I will have what I need to make dinner.

Another use of entonces is to say “in that case,” for example:
Si vas a la tienda y no tienen manzanas, entonces compra peras.
If you go to the store and they do not have apples, then (in that case) buy pears.

  • Luego (then), on the other hand, will be used with a series of actions, to say “later” or “next.” Luego (then) can also substitute the word después (later, later on). For example:
    Fuimos al cine, luego pasamos por casa de mis papás.
    We went to the movies, then (next, later) we went by my parents’ house.
    The example above could also be:
    Fuimos al cine, después pasamos por casa de mis papás.

Intensifiers in Spanish

Intensifiers are adverbs that refer to quantity or degree. Here are a few that are challenging to Spanish learners.

‘Muy’ (very) vs ‘mucho’ (a lot)

Both words in this category are used to intensify something: Muy (very) is an adverb used in Spanish to intensify the qualities offered by either an adjective or an adverb. For example:
La chica es muy atlética. The girl is very athletic.
muy is intensifying the adjective “athletic.”
El león corre muy rápidamente. The lion runs very quickly. muy is intensifying the adverb “quickly.”

Muy cannot be used to intensify comparative adverbs and adjectives like más (more) or menos (less). To intensify comparatives, use mucho instead (see below).

Mucho (a lot), on the other hand, is used to talk about amounts. It can also mean “many” or “much.” It is used after verbs or before Spanish comparative adjectives and adverbs like más (more) or mejor (better). For example:
El equipo de campo traviesa corre mucho.
The cross country team runs a lot.
Esta película es mucho mejor que la primera.
This movie is much better than the first one.


Words like mucho can also function as adjectives or pronouns if followed by a noun or replacing one. For more on this, check out our post on quantifiers in Spanish.

‘Sí’ (yes) vs ‘si’ (if)

While both of these words look very similar, they are very different! They are even different parts of speech. You read that right! And, they can be used as intensifiers.

  • (yes) (with an accent!) is an adverb that implies affirmation, agreement. Most often translated as “yes,” but when used as an intensifier, in English we use an emphatic tone instead. For example:
    desayuné, pero aún tengo hambre.
    I did have breakfast, but I am still hungry.
  • On the other hand si (if) (without an accent) is a Spanish conjunction that introduces conditional statements (if, then) or an indirect question. However, when used as an intensifier, it’s usually preceded by pero (but), and it adds emphasis to the following statement.
    ¿Cómo no sabes a qué hora salimos? ¡(pero) Si te lo dije ayer!
    How come you don’t know the time we leave? (but) I told you yesterday!

‘Bien’ (very, quite, well)

You may have seen the intensifier bien (well, very, quite) as you study Spanish. It can modify a verb, an adjective, and also certain adverbs:
La chica baila bien.
The girl dances well.
bien is describing how the girl dances (well).
El felino corre bien rápido.
The feline runs very quickly.
bien is intensifying the adverb (very quickly).
La profesora es bien inteligente.
The professor is very/quite intelligent.
bien is intensifying the adjective (very/quite intelligent).

Bien is invariable, but the adjective that follows will match the noun being described. For example:
Los muchachos son bien inteligentes.
The boys are very/quite intelligent.
See how the previous example has bien, but it does not change. On the other hand,                                      inteligentes (the adjective) will match the noun muchachos.

In Spanish, we use bien to talk about the following topics:

  1. Our health/how we are feeling:
    Hoy estoy bien.
    Today I am (doing, feeling) well.
  2. To say something is being done correctly:
    Ella cocina bien.
    She cooks well.
  3. To talk about whether or not something is functioning as it should:
    Mi computadora no anda bien. Está muy lenta.
    My computer is not working well. It’s very slow.
  4. When we want to answer a question with “okay, fine, sure!”
    ¿Quieres ir al súper conmigo?
    Bien, dame unos minutos.
    Do you want to go to the supermarket with me?
    Sure, give me a few minutes.
  5. To say “Yay! Hooray! Bravo!”
    Miss Universo es… ¡Señorita Colombia!
    ¡Bien!¡Viva Colombia!
    Miss Universe is… Miss Colombia!
    Yay! Let’s go, Colombia!

To sum it up

While there are a lot of similarities between adverbs in English and adverbs in Spanish, there are also differences. Here are some of the items that differ between the two languages:

  1. Placement rules:
    1. Adverbs are placed after the verbs they describe.
    2. Adverbs go before adjectives or adverbs they describe.
    3. We do not place adverbs between verbs or between auxiliary verbs and main verbs.
  2. Adverbs of manner:
    Adverbs of manner that end in -ly in English, end in -mente in Spanish.
  3. The three degrees of distance:
    While in English we have “here” and “there” to talk about distance from the speaker, in Spanish we have three different levels of distance: aquí/acá (here), ahí (there), and allá (over there).
  4. Challenging adverbs of time:
    1. Ya (already) changes meaning depending on the tense of the sentence. It can mean “already,” “now,” or “eventually.” In the negative, it means something is no longer valid or does not exist at that moment, similar to “not anymore.”
    2. Todavía and aún (still, yet) imply the continuation of something, that something has been happening until now. Todavía no or aún no imply something has not been done up until a certain point.
    3. Use entonces to talk about “then” as “at that point in time.”
    4. Luego (then), is used with a series of actions, to say “later” or “next.”
  5. Intensifiers:
    1. Muy (very) vs mucho (a lot)
      1. Muy is used to intensify the qualities offered by either an adjective or an adverb.
      2. Mucho is used to talk about amounts. We use it after verbs or before comparatives.
    2. (yes) vs si (if)
      1. (yes) (with an accent!) is an adverb that implies affirmation, agreement.
      2. Si (if) (without an accent) is a conjunction that introduces conditional statements (if, then) and can intensify the following statement.
    3. Bien (very, quite, well) is invariable and can modify a verb, an adjective, and also certain adverbs.

If you feel ready to practice with these new concepts, here are some activities for you to get started!

Are you interested in learning more about Spanish Grammar? Check out our Spanish Grammar Homepage.
Meet The Author:
Author-Britt Marie Solis
Brittmarie Solís
Spanish Teacher
Brittmarie is an experienced Spanish Teacher with an MA in Foreign Language Teaching.

To embark on your next language adventure, join the Mango fam!

Extra Resources:

Common Adverbs


Adverbs activity


Adverbs activity

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