The -ment(e) Suffix in Romance Languages

The modern Romance language suffix -ment(e) is shown between a blue diagonal bar and a green diagonal bar.

In Romance languages, the -ment(e) suffix, which is used to form adverbs, is etymologically derived from Latin.

People who spoke Vulgar Latin used to say words like clara mente (with a clear mind, i.e., clearly) etc. to form adverbs. The Latin word mente is the singular ablative case of the feminine noun mens (mind in English). So the word that goes along with the -mente suffix has to be feminine as well. With time, the 2 words became 1 word. Knowing these facts, we now know the reason for which feminine adjectives are needed to form adverbs in modern Romance languages.

Examples

slowly

French: lentement from the feminine version of the adjective lent (slow in English)

Italian: lentamente from the feminine version of the adjective lento (slow in English)

Note

In Romanian, there is a main way of forming adjectives that is different from what we have talked about here.

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