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I am currently doing a dive into Spanish adverbs (adverbios Españoles) to better my fluency and vocab. My current main source is "Complete Spanish Grammar" 3rd Edition. It describes the following Adverb Forms:

  • single word, por ejemplo "ahora", "aquí"
  • compound word from multiple adverbs, por ejemplo "anteayer"
  • compound with "-mente", por ejemplo "fácilmente", "alegremente"
  • adverbial expressions combining a proposition with an adverb, por ejemplo "con rapidez", "por fin"

It is also explained (paraphrased):

where a meaning can be expressed by either the -mente form or the adverbial expression (frases adverbiales) form, the -mente form is more often preferred for some forms of writing such as formal reports, and the adverbial expression is preferred in everyday language.

Now I spoke to a friend from Mexico about this, and they said that their usage for everyday language was often the -mente form? Also, my source book is aimed for International Standard Spanish which I understand to be based more on European Spanish than dialects in Latin America?

What I am curious to know, especially from different native Latin American speakers is:

Do you know of, in everyday speech, a tendency toward -mente forms or adverbial expressions, in your region or dialect, if such a tendency exists?

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  • Please capitalize the word for a language: Spanish and Latin America.
    – Lambie
    Feb 2, 2022 at 15:36

1 Answer 1

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In my experience as a native speaker and a translator, I'll give you my view:

  1. In written Spanish, the excessive use of adverbs ending in -mente is discouraged because it tends to make the text too heavy. The stylistic recommendation is to combine adverbs and adverbials (i.e. phrases).

  2. In oral Spanish, we tend to use adverbs ending in -mente mainly when they are conjuncts used for cohesion or to express the attitude of the speaker, for example:

  • Teóricamente
  • Sinceramente
  • Curiosamente
  • Francamente
  • Lamentablemente
  • Honestamente
  1. We also use adverbs ending in -mente in everyday speech when they express a meaning other than manner, for example:
  • Totalmente (emphasis, assertion)
  • Prácticamente (lexical hedge) (= casi)
  • Últimamente (time)
  1. Although we can use adverbs of manner ending in -mente, in everyday speech we tend to use adjectives functioning as adverbs, or phrases, because adverbs in -mente may sound too formal:
  • hablar claro, hablar con claridad (instead of "hablar claramente")
  • venir rápido (instead of "venir rápidamente")
  • hablar lento, despacio (instead of "hablar lentamente")

(You may find this other question of interest.)

I'm not saying that adverbs of manner ending in "-mente" cannot be used in speech, but only that there is a trend to look for shorter ways of expressing them.

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  • Aren't you from Spain?
    – Lambie
    Feb 2, 2022 at 15:38
  • I'm from Argentina. I only sometimes force myself to use "tú" instead of "vos" to make my answers sound more understandable to the general audience, so to speak. :)
    – Gustavson
    Feb 2, 2022 at 15:49
  • Ok, well, that's clear now. Thank you.
    – Lambie
    Feb 2, 2022 at 15:53
  • Thank you Gustavon. I will refresh my understanding of adverb families (such as manner, location etc) and practice the distinctions you have described.
    – rask004
    Feb 13, 2022 at 20:58

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