Danish Language Blog

Easily Made Adverbs Posted by on Feb 29, 2020 in Grammar

Luftballonen flyver højT og langsomT over jorden. 🙂 (Image by Kittidet Ratchata from Pixabay, no copyright.)

Quick learners will quickly learn: Just as adjectives describe nouns (slow + learner) adverbs describe verbs (slowly + learn). In English, most adverbs take the ending -ly. In Danish, it’s also relatively easy. (All right, as those word just showed, an adverb can also describe an adjective: relatively + hard…) 🙂

The rule of thumb is: Most danske adverbier (which in Danish can also be called biord or ”secondary words”) take the ending –t.

Sangen er smuk. Hun synger smukt. (The song is beautiful. She sings beautifully.)

En langsom mand. Han løber langsomt. (A slow man. He runs slowly.)

This, of course, makes it impossible to distinguish between adverbs and neuter adjectives (which also take a -t ending):

Et godt klaver lyder godt. (A good piano sounds ”goodly” = well.)

Et hurtigt fly flyver hurtigt. (A fast airplane flies rapidly.)

Please note that the -t is always omitted after the letter combo -sk:

De spiller fantastisk! (They’re playing fantastically!)

Han kiggede meget kritisk på hende. (He looked at her very critically.)

All the adverbs above are derived from adjectives. In Danish, however, quite a number of adverbs don’t have a widely used adjective counterpart. Those ”adjective-less” adverbs typically

  1. end in -(l)ig
  2. don’t take any -t ending:

Det er nemlig på onsdag. (It’s namely on Wednesday.)

Du var temmelig fuld i går. (You were pretty drunk yesterday.)

De kommer aldrig til tiden. (They never arrive on time.)

Pludselig væltede træet. (Suddenly, the tree fell down.)

(The last example above does have an adjective version, but it’s not a very common word: en pludselig reaktion – a sudden reaction.)

Last but not least, you’ve got all those adverbs that describe entire phrases (not just single verbs or adjectives). They’re quite common, and don’t require any special endings.

Vi tager måske hjem nu. (We’ll maybe go home now.)

Det er kun for sjov. (It’s only for fun.)

Babyen ville ikke sove. (The baby did not want to sleep.)

Der er snart weekend. (There’ll be weekend soon.)

Telefonen ringede igen og igen. (The telephone rang again and again.)

Det bliver sandsynligvis en pige. (It’ll probably be a girl.)

Foråret er heldigvis på vej. (Fortunately, spring is on its way.)

Hvad vil du helst have – karamel eller chokolade? (What would you preferably have – caramel or chocolate?)

Jeg vil gerne have en hund. (I’d willingly have a dog = I’d like to have a dog.)

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.


  1. Jayne:

    tak! Det er meget nyttig!

    I hope i have that right?

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Jayne @Jayne, well, you miss a -t! 🙂 In your phrase, ”nyttig” is an adjective (describing the neuter pronoun ”det”, it). So… ”Det er meget nyttigt!” thanks for commenting!