In Spanish, is it possible to make 'principal' or 'gradual' an adverb without adding -mente at the end?

  • I'm just curious. Why are you asking this?. Anyway instead of principalmente you can use máxime but I don't know any word for gradualmente without "-mente"
    – DGaleano
    Apr 27 '18 at 18:11
  • @DGaleano - because when you are learning a language you are interested in trying out this and that, in order to find patterns and rules, which you can then apply, to make many new permutations of words. Apr 28 '18 at 3:10
  • @aparente001 your guess makes sens but let´s wait for the op comment
    – DGaleano
    Apr 28 '18 at 17:48
  • I'd like to know as well. I'm reminded of how German for the most part (I think) doesn't have a specific adverb-forming suffix; most adjectives work as adverbs directly. Not the case in Spanish, in general.
    – pablodf76
    Apr 28 '18 at 23:04
  • @DGaleano - Sorry for the misunderstanding, I've deleted my obsolete comments. May 7 '18 at 13:12

An easy way to turn adjectives into adverbs without adding -mente is to replace the suffix with its actual meaning, which is "de manera" (or "de modo" or "de forma").

So if you don't want to say "gradualmente", you can say "de manera gradual". Same for "de modo principal" for "principalmente"; "de forma lenta" instead of "lentamente", etc. It's like saying "in a slow manner" instead of "slowly" in English.

Of course, you can also use synonym expressions like "poco a poco" instead of "gradualmente", "sobre todo" in place of "principalmente" and the like.

  • Great answer. I think the point you made in the last paragraph is the take-home message. I suggest you add usage notes along these lines: In casual conversation, we'll almost always use these alternate expressions; in formal writing, the -mente adverbs would be more likely. Also: "de modo" is especially useful if the -mente form sounds awkward, such as with cruel. E.g., I hear "de modo cruel" rather than "cruelmente". (If you agree, that is.) May 7 '18 at 13:15

Some adjectives can be adverbialized with what today we might call the zero or null suffix, as in rápido. But there is a very small, basically fixed number of these, all of which were inherited through Latin's neuter-adjective-as-adverb formation. But neither principal nor gradual are a part of this special group of adjective-adverbs, and therefore must use -mente or other adverbializing structures (such as de forma X, de modo X, en plan X, etc.)

  • Also helpful. Now I wonder if there's some simple pattern that governs membership in that class? May 7 '18 at 13:18

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