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Bien, mal, mieux, moins, peu (irregular adverbs)

We've already learned about Forming regular adverbs with -ment (feminine adjective + -ment).

However, some adverbs have irregular stems, meaning that they differ from the original adjective.
And some are just completely irregular.


Here is a table of these irregular adverbs:

Feminine adjective English Irregular adverb English
gentille kind gentiment kindly
brève brief brièvement  briefly
bonne good bien well
mauvaise bad mal badly
petite small peu not much
moindre lesser moins less
meilleure better mieux better

Listen to these examples:

Le bon nageur plonge bien.
The good swimmer dives well.

C'était une brève rencontre: je l'ai vu brièvement.
It was a brief meeting: I saw him briefly.

Une moindre personne lirait moins.
A lesser person would read less.

Le meilleur élève parle mieux français que moi. 
The best pupil speaks French better than me.

Un mauvais vin vieillit mal. 
A bad wine ages badly.

Elle a une petite voix: on l'entend peu.
She has a small voice: we don't hear her much.

Elle est gentille, et elle parle gentiment.
She is kind, and she speaks kindly.

See also the related lesson:
Meilleur, mieux, pire / plus mauvais, plus mal = better, best, worse and worst (irregular comparatives and superlatives)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Le bon nageur plonge bien.
The good swimmer dives well.



Le meilleur élève parle mieux français que moi. 
The best pupil speaks French better than me.


Une moindre personne lirait moins.
A lesser person would read less.


C'était une brève rencontre: je l'ai vu brièvement.
It was a brief meeting: I saw him briefly.


Elle a une petite voix: on l'entend peu.
She has a small voice: we don't hear her much.


Un mauvais vin vieillit mal. 
A bad wine ages badly.


Elle est gentille, et elle parle gentiment.
She is kind, and she speaks kindly.


Q&A

Arndís

Kwiziq community member

21 May 2018

2 replies

How is the gender relevant?

The lesson talks about feminine adjectives, but these adjectives can also be masculine, like bon and gentil. Why does it talk about them as feminine? 

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

22 May 2018

22/05/18

Bonjour Arndís !


The part about feminine adjectives refers to how to form regular adverbs, whereas this lesson is about irregular ones :)


I agree that it can be a bit confusing, so I've rephrased this intro to remove ambiguity.


Bonne journée !

Arndís

Kwiziq community member

22 May 2018

22/05/18

Thank you for the clarification, Aurélie! 

Catherine

Kwiziq community member

20 August 2016

1 reply

A question about one of the above sentences

In the sentence above that says "Elle a une petite voix: on l'entend peu", why is that translated as "She has a small voice: We don't hear her much". I would have thought that "on l'entend peu" would have translated to 'we hear her much'. Would you please explain this? Thank you. Catherine

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

23 August 2016

23/08/16

Bonjour Catherine -

Peu means little, so "on l'entend peu" can be translated as either "we hear her little" or, more idiomatically, "we don't hear her much."
Clever stuff underway!