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The 100 Most Useful German Adverbs

The 100 Most Useful German Adverbs

Adverbs are the words that give us information about how, how often, where, when, in what way, or to what degree an action is taking place. They modify adjectives, verbs, or other adverbs.

An adverb can express time, manner, place, frequency, quantity, certainty, and degree among other circumstances. We’ll give you all the details about the different type in this extremely useful article. 

In German, we place adverbs close to the word they modify. A lot of adjectives can function as adverbs as well.

Adverbs vs. Adjectives 

Adverbs rarely change their form. The forms you see in this article are the ones you will use in written and spoken language. By this, we mean they are not inflected, unlike adjectives.

For example:

Die kurze Pause   (a short break) 

Ein kurzes Treffen (a short meeting) 

Here, kurz (short, brief) is used as an adjective. It is inflected for gender. We add an -e because Pause is a feminine noun and an -es because Treffen is a neuter noun. But:

Ich muss kurz warten. (I must wait briefly.) 

Bitte sehen Sie sich kurz um. –(Please look around briefly.) 

Here, kurz translates as briefly, for a short while, and is used as an adverb of manner (answering the question “how”). It does not change its form, unlike the adjective.

24 Most Common German Adverbs

We’ll begin with the 24 most common German adverbs and then list the most common and useful ones by type.

1. auch (adv. of manner) also, too
2. doch (conjunctive adverb)
(Ich habe viel Zeit. Doch beeile ich mich. )
but, still
(I have a lot of time. Still, I hurry.)
3. so (adv. of manner) so, thus, this way, such
4. wieder (adv. of frequency)
(Wieder hast du dein Zimmer nicht geputzt.)
again, once more
(You haven’t cleaned your room again.)
5. dann (adv. of time)then
6. eigentlich
(focusing adverb)
(Das ist eigentlich nicht so billig, als ich gedacht habe.)
actually
(That’s actually not as cheap as I thought.)
7. da (adv. of place) - there
8. oben aboveup there
9. noch (adv. of time)
(Wir haben noch Zeit, der Film beginnt erst um 20:00 Uhr.)
still, yet
(We still have time, the film doesn't start until 20:00.)
10. nun (adv. of time) now
11. also (conjunctive adverb)
(Ihre Tochter hat gute Noten. Also haben Sie keine Angst.)
so, therefore
(Your daughter has good grades. So, no worries.)
12. heute (adv. of time) today
13. nur (focusing adverb)
(Nur weil du mich gebeten hast, helfe ich dir.)
only
(I’ll help you only because you asked me to.
14. weit (adv. of time/focusing adverb)far, widely
15. schon (adv. of time)
(Ich habe zu lange gewartet. Schon ist es zu spät.)
already
(I waited for too long. It’s already too late.)
16. eben (adv. of time) just now
17. mehr (adv. of quantity)
(Wir brauchen mehr Geld, wenn wir diesen Plan realisieren wollen.)
more
(We need more money if we want to implement this plan.)
18. erst (focusing adv.) first, only, not until
19. jetzt (adv. of time) now
20. natürlich (adv. of manner) (Sie sind sehr nett. Natürlich kann ich Ihnen hilfreich sein.) naturally, of course (You are very nice. Of course I can be helpful.)

Note: Sehr is an adverb too. Adverbs are used constantly to communicate deeper meaning. 

21. immer (adv. of frequency) *
Die Mitarbeiter verspäten sich immer egal, ob der Zug rechtzeitig kommt oder nicht.
always
(The employees are always late regardless of whether the train is on time or not.)
22. vielleicht (adv. of probability) perhaps, maybe
23. sehr (adv. of degree) very
24. dort (adv. of place) there

*Strangely, this is the only adverb of frequency on the list of the 24 most common German adverbs. Adverbs of frequency answer the question “how often”. Adverbs of time answer “when”. Note “always” doesn’t answer “when.”

"Rechtzeitig“ (on time) is also an adverb, one of manner. It answers the question of "how“.

Most Useful Adverbs of Place

Our list continues with the most useful and common adverbs of place. This category is an easy one to grasp. The words in it answer the question of "where“.

At the top of this section, obviously, are the German words for left, right, below, above, etc.

25. links left
26. rechts
Biegen Sie in die nächste Straße rechts ab.
right
Turn right in the next street.
27. unten below
28. oben
Sie können oben wunderschöne Vögel sehen.
above
You can see some amazing birds above.

Note: The sentence would sound really general and "off‘ without the adverb. 

29. drinnen (also drin) inside
30. voranbefore/in front
31. nirgends nowhere
32. drauβen
Ich will nicht mehr drinnen bleiben. Draußen ist es viel schöner.
outside
I don’t want to stay inside any more. It’s much nicer outside.

At no time could people be more divided on this statement than during the outbreak of COVID-19.

33. irgendwo somewhere
34. hier here
35. überall
Du bist hier, du bist da, du bist überall.
everywhere
You’re here, you’re there, you’re everywhere.
36. drüben over there
37. weg away
38. nahe near

Apart from answering the simple question of wie (how), there are several types of specific adjectives that describe degree, time, frequency, and quantity. There are also other adverb categories that add indispensable circumstantial facts regarding logical sequencing.

Adverbs of Time

Adverbs of time answer the question of "when“ (wann). Now, let’s take a closer look at some examples in this category. As you’ve probably noticed, English and German word order is different. 

If you translate sentences literally, they won’t always translate well or even make sense. Take into account what the language would lose if you didn’t use adverbs.

Heute muss ich meine Arbeit erledigen, aber sagte meine beste Freundin mir, “Vielleicht können wir heute Abend ins Kino gehen.” (Today I have to finish my work, but my best friend said to me, “Maybe we can go to the movies tonight.”)

What if we removed the adverbs? 

Ich muss meine Arbeit erledigen, aber sagte meine beste Freundin mir, “Wir können ins Kino gehen.” 

(I have to finish my work, but my best friend said to me, “We can go to the movies.”)


To some extent, the statement loses the meaning of possibility and time. We don’t know when the person must do their work or when their best friend suggests or would be available to go to the movies. Actually, the very probability of going to the movies wouldn’t be expressed if we didn’t use “maybe.”


You’ll notice as your German improves that adverbs are quite important in everyday speech, even in subtle ways.


Think about how critical these details can be when you’re making statements. It can make a great difference knowing where, how, or when something has happened or is going to happen. You can’t argue with that.

Most Useful Adverbs of Time

Adverbs of time are used to clarify when an action occurs. With these adverbs, you must pay heightened attention to word order. They usually come at the beginning of the sentence.

39. gerade right now
40. gleich in a minute
41. gestern yesterday
42. ehemaligformer
43. morgen tomorrow
44. eben just now
45. kürzlich recently
46. damals back then
47. schließlichfinally
48. neulichrecently
49. sofort Immediately, at once
50. zuletzt in the end
51. zukünftigIn the future
52. seit since
53. bisher So far, previously

Examples

Morgen habe ich keine Zeit. Ich muss noch viel erledigen.  (I don’t have time tomorrow. I still have a lot to do.)

Notice the difference in word order. “Morgen” comes at the beginning of the sentence. “Tomorrow” goes at the end.

Sometimes, both will go at the end:

Ich bin 1953 geboren. Damals hatten wir keine Handys. – I was born in 1953. We didn’t have cell phones back then.
Bring mir mein Bier sofort! – Get me my beer at once!

As you can see, German word order is a lot more rigid than English word order when it comes to adverbs of time. This rule doesn’t extend to all adverbs, however. It’s the other way around for adverbs of frequency. Have patience, we’ll get to those soon.

1945 war das Ende des zweiten Weltkriegs. Schließlich war die Qual vorbei. – WWII ended in 1945. The torture was finally over. 

You’ll see stuff like this in divorce decrees quite a lot:
Wir leben seit Oktober 2009 getrennt. - We have been living separately since 2009.
Bisher hatte ich keine Ahnung, dass das Virus so gefährlich war. – I had previously no clue the virus could be so dangerous.

In German, the more general expression of time precedes the more specific one in sentences with more than one such expression. In English, not always.

Es war im Sommer an einem sonnigen Nachmittag. It was on a sunny afternoon in summer.

Most Useful Adverbs of Frequency: How Often?

Adverbs of frequency answer the question “how often” or “wie oft” in German. The most common and useful ones are at the beginning of this section.

54. manchmalsometimes
55. regelmäßigregularly
56. oft often
57. fast nie almost never
58. häufig frequently
59. nie never
60. ab und zu every once in a while
61. unregelmäßig irregularly
62. niemals never, ever
63. stets always
64. ständigconstantly
65. selten seldom
66. mehrmalsrepeatedly
67. einmalone time

Examples

Sie dachte ständig an ihr ungeborenes Baby. She was constantly thinking of her soon-to-arrive baby.
Du hast Zeit für mich fast nie. You almost never have time for me.
Ich bin dort oft. I am often there.
Manchmal tut es mir leid, wenn ich an ihn denke. I sometimes feel sorry when I think of him.
Du kannst nie pünktlich kommen. You can never come on time.
Ihre Arbeit ist stets einwandfrei. Her work is always impeccable. (You’ll see this in job references very often.)
Ich liebe meine Arbeit, aber ab und zu brauche ich eine Pause. I love my job, but from time to time, I need a break.
Während eurer Dienstreise hat es ab und zu geregnet. During your business trip, it rained from time to time.
Normalerweise trinkt sie Wein, aber ab und zu trinkt sie auch Wasser. She normally drinks wine, but she also drinks water from time to time.

There is great flexibility of German word order in terms of adverbs of frequency. English is a lot more rigid. If the adverb is a single word, it comes after the verb “to be” and modal verbs and after the subject with other verbs.

If the adverb is two or more words (ex. from time to time), it goes at the end of the sentence. “Almost never” is an exception.

Adverbs of Quantity: Wie viel?

68.wenigLittle
69. gar nicht not at all
70. viel much
71. übermäßigexcessively
72. extrem extremely

Examples​​​​​

Normalerweise ist das vielleicht ein bisschen extrem.Normally that might be a bit extreme.
Und was heißt überhaupt 'übermäßig'?! Man muss immer übertriebene Gefühle haben.And what does 'excessively' really mean? One must always have exaggerated feelings.

Adverbs of Manner

Our last category includes adverbs that answer the question of “how”. How is something done? It is a very broad and sometimes hard to grasp category.

73. allein(e)
(Ich kann nicht mehr allein sein.) *
alone
(I can’t be alone anymore.)
74. zusammen
(Ich bin sehr froh, seit wir zusammen eingezogen sind.)
together
(I’ve been very happy since we moved in together.)
75. dauernd prolonged
76. lange long
77. langsam**
(Es fährt langsam.)
slowly
(It moves slowly.)
78. sicherlich ***
(Sicherlich hast du etwas Zeit, um diese Frage zu besprechen.)
certainly, surely
(Surely you have some time to discuss this issue.)
79. genau exactly
80. wütend exactly
81. gern(e)
(Ab und zu esse ich gerne eine Pizza.)
gladly, to like doing something
(Every once in a while, I like to have pizza.)
82. kurze short, briefly
83. leichtsinnig recklessly
84. lieber rather
85. hoffentlich hopefully
86. eventuell possibly
87. zufälligper chance

*Imagine leaving the adverb out? “I can’t be any more.” It wouldn’t even make sense.

**As mentioned, some adverbs double as adjectives in German, but their forms don’t always change.

***German words with the suffix -lich are always adverbs, like English words ending in -ly.

Rounding out the top 100 are the less common adverbs of manner, listed in the table below.​

88. leidenschaftlich Passionately
89. wahnsinnig insanely, very
90. überhaupt nicht not at all
91. ein bisschen a bit
92. fastalmost
93. enormenormously
94. beinahe nearly
95. ziemlich quite
96. total totally
97. unglaublich incredibly
98. wirklich Really
99. ungewöhnlich Unusually
100. Fabelhaft dreamy

Examples

Da sitzt er und ist wahnsinnig froh.

There he sits, ins​​​​anely happy.

Ich bin in dich total verliebt.

I am totally in love with you.

Laut ihrer Kollegen ist sie unglaublich niedlich und wunderschön! 

According to her coworkers, she is unbelievably cute and wonderful!

Das ist wirklich nett von dir.

That’s really nice of you.

Das ist fast unglaublich.

That’s almost unbelievable.

In our last example, we have an adverb modifying another adverb. “Fast” describes “unglaublich.”

Thank you for checking out our article on the 100 most useful German adverbs. Please share your thoughts in the comments section down below!

About the Author Daniela Kirova

Daniela Kirova is a German and English language teacher, translator, and copywriter. She finished school in the US and holds degrees in English / German linguistics and psychology.