Exclamative Adverbs

French exclamative adverbs
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Adverbes exclamatifs

An exclamative adverb is a word or phrase used in front of a clause to express a strong emotion like surprise or awe.

Characteristics of Exclamative Adverbs

  • Invariable
  • Placed in front of clauses

There are three French exclamative adverbs as well as two informal replacements:

  1. combien (de)
  2. comme
  3. que (de)
  4. ce que
  5. qu’est-ce que

Using French Exclamative Adverbs


The exclamative adverb combien can be followed by a noun, adverb, or clause.

1) Combien de + noun + clause = so much / so many

The clause after the noun must either begin with que or be inverted.

Combien d’idĂ©es que vous avez !
Combien d’idĂ©es avez-vous !
  You have so many ideas!
Combien de cafĂ© qu’il a bu !
Combien de cafĂ© a-t-il bu !
  He drank so much coffee!

2) Combien + adverb of quantity or comparative adverb + clause = how much / how many, so much / so many

Again, the clause after the noun must either begin with que or include inversion.

Combien plus de gens qu’il y a ici !
Combien plus de gens y a-t-il ici !
  How many more people are here! There are so many more people here!
Combien peu de temps que tu y passes !
Combien peu de temps y passes-tu !
  How little time you spend there! You spend so little time there!

3) Combien + clause or inverted clause

Combien tu as grandi !
Combien as-tu grandi !
  You’ve grown so much!
Combien on en a mangĂ© !
Combien en a-t-on mangĂ© !
  We ate so many (of them)!

Que and Comme

As exclamative adverbs, que and comme mean "how" or "so" and can be used with

1) Verbs

Qu’il fait beau !
Comme il fait beau !
  It’s so beautiful out!
Ta fille, qu’elle est mignonne !
Comme elle est mignonne !
  Your daughter is so cute!

 Que plus the subjunctive creates an indirect command.

Informally, ce que and qu’est-ce que can replace que and comme:

Ce qu’il fait beau !
Qu’est-ce qu’il fait beau !
  It’s so beautiful out!
Ta fille, ce qu’elle est mignonne !
Qu’est-ce qu’elle est mignonne !
  Your daughter is so cute!

2) Nouns

   a) Que de + noun

Que de monde !   There are so many people!
Ouf, ce project, que de soucis !   Ugh, this project, nothing but trouble!

   b) Comme il y a de + noun

Comme il y a du monde !   There are so many people!
Comme il y a des soucis !   Nothing but trouble!

   c) Informal substitution: qu’est-ce qu’il y a comme

Qu’est-ce qu’il y a comme monde !   There are so many people!
Qu’est-ce qu’il y a comme soucis !   Nothing but trouble!

In the negative, this final construction can be tricky to understand.

Qu’est-ce qu’il n’a pas fait comme bĂȘtises !
Comme il a fait des bĂȘtises.
  He did a bunch of stupid stuff!
Qu’est-ce que tu n’as pas eu comme soucis !
Comme tu as eu des soucis.
  You had so much trouble!

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French exclamative adverbs

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