Adverbs of Manner: Well, Poorly, etc.

Advérbios de modo paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Adverbs of manner, sometimes called adverbs of mode, tell us how an action happened or the way in which it was carried out. Easy, right?
Adverbs of manner can sometimes be mistaken for adjectives, but one thing that distinguishing an adverb of manner (or any adverb) is that they are always invariable. In other respects, Portuguese adverbs of manner are used quite similarly to their English counterparts, so you’ll have little trouble learning them.
In this lesson we’ll start with some of the most frequent adverbs of manner in Portuguese, which are:

  • bem paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio well
  • melhor paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio better
  • mal paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio badly, poorly
  • pior paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio worse
  • através paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio through

Bem

Bem is the equivalent of well in English. Example:
A lareira funciona bem? paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Does the fireplace work well?
Muito bem, essa camisola está bem lavada. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Well done, that jumper is well-washed.

Melhor

Melhor is the equivalent of better in English. Example:
Ela sente-se melhor paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio She feels better
Ela canta melhor agora do que há dois anos. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio She sings better now than she did two years ago.

Mal

Mal is the equivalent of badly or poorly in English. Example:
O teste correu-me mal. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I did poorly on the test.

Pior

Pior is the equivalent of worse in English. Example:
A chuva hoje está pior! paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio The rain is worse today!

Através

Através is the equivalent of through in English. You will typically see it followed by the preposition de.
Vi-a através da janela. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I saw her through the window.

Comments

  • These two phrases translate the same in DeepL. Is either form more common than the other?

    O teste correu-me mal

    Fiz mal no teste

    • “O teste correu-me mal” is perfectly idiomatic, but “Fiz mal no teste” is a literal translation of “I did bad in the exam” and sounds awkward, because in Portuguese, we don’t do well or badly (referring to ourselves), we do something well or badly. So, we might say “Fiz mal este exercício no teste” (I did this exercise wrong in the exam), but we wouldn’t say “Fiz mal no teste”.

    • They’re all different.
      – “Ele não sente-se bem” – Not a grammatically correct sentence.
      – “Ele não se sente bem” – Means “He doesn’t feel well” and is the right way to write the sentence, because object and reflexive pronouns (like ‘se’) should come before the verb in negative sentences (see Object Pronouns in Portuguese).
      – “Ele não sente bem” – Grammatically correct, but sounds awkward/incomplete. I’d read it as “He doesn’t feel [something] well”. The pronoun ‘se’ must be included if you want to refer to the subject’s well-being. Otherwise, the verb will apply to something else. For example, “Ele não sente o cheiro das velas” (He doesn’t feel the scent of the candles).

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