Adverbs of Frequency: Definition, Rules and Helpful Examples

If you are looking to talk about how often something happens, then you will need to employ the use of an adverb of frequency. These can let the listener or reader know that an event takes places weekly, hourly, monthly and a variety of other adverbs of frequency.

Knowing adverbs of frequency is a great way to be able to further explain a situation within your conversation, as well as adding a whole host of new words to your vocabulary. In this article, we are going to be looking at the different adverbs of frequency as well as how they fir into a sentence.

What Are Adverbs of Frequency?

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Adverbs of frequency tell us how often something takes place or happens.

There are lots of them. Here are some examples:

– Always: He is always ready to take on heavy responsibilities.

– Usually: We usually go to restaurant on Sundays.

– Regularly: I communicate with him regularly by letter.

– Normally: I don’t normally take my holiday in midsummer.

– Often: They often went carolling at Christmas.

– Sometimes: Sometimes, I just need someone to talk to.

– Occasionally: Occasionally Alice would look up from her books.

– Rarely: Rarely have I seen such a scene.

– Seldom: Opportunity seldom knocks twice.

– Never: He never turned up.

Adverbs of Definite Frequency

Adverbs of definite frequency provide exact information on how often an event occurs. They typically answer the question “How often?” and often appear at the end of a sentence. Some examples of adverbs of definite frequency include daily, weekly, hourly, once, and twice. These adverbs enable us to express a specific time frame for an action or event.

For instance, consider the following examples:

  • Every employee pays taxes yearly.
  • She drinks coffee every day.
  • The nurse checks the patient every hour.
  • He visits his grandparents weekly.

Adverbs of definite frequency are helpful in providing a clear and precise understanding of an event’s occurrence. In contrast to adverbs of indefinite frequency, which do not specify an exact time frame, definite frequency adverbs offer a more concrete and specific understanding of how often an action takes place.

When using adverbs of definite frequency, it is important to place them in the correct position within the sentence. Generally, they will appear at the end of the sentence to avoid confusion and maintain clarity. However, they can also be placed at the beginning of a sentence for emphasis. Here are some examples of both placements:

Placed at the end of the sentence:

  • The company holds a meeting monthly.
  • We have family dinners every Sunday.

Placed at the beginning of the sentence for emphasis:

  • Yearly, this charity event helps hundreds of people.
  • Biweekly, the team reviews their goals and progress.

Adverbs of Indefinite Frequency

Adverbs of indefinite frequency are words that express an unspecified or uncertain frequency of an action or event. These adverbs often provide a general idea of how often something happens, rather than a specific numerical value or time frame. Some common examples include: always, usually, often, sometimes, occasionally, rarely, and never.

In terms of sentence structure, adverbs of indefinite frequency generally appear in the middle of the sentence, often immediately before the main verb. For example:

  • She usually reads a book before going to bed.
  • He rarely eats breakfast in the morning.
  • They occasionally watch movies together on weekends.

However, when the verb ‘to be’ is used, these adverbs come after the verb. For instance:

  • John is always late to work.
  • Maria is sometimes tired in the evenings.

In addition, it is important to note that adverbs of indefinite frequency are typically used with simple present tense verbs, as they describe habits or recurring actions. Here is a list of common adverbs of indefinite frequency, ordered from highest to lowest frequency:

  • Always (100%)
  • Usually (80-90%)
  • Often (60-70%)
  • Sometimes (30-50%)
  • Occasionally/Rarely (10-20%)
  • Never (0%)

Position of Frequency Adverbs

We often place adverbs of frequency in these adverb positions.

Rule 1

Most adverbs come before the verb.

Examples:

I sometimes watch Chinese films.

She never eats vegetables.

I always read comic books.

They rarely watch music channels.

Rule 2

Use adverbs of frequency after these five forms of beam, is, are, was, were.

Examples:

I am always worried about my study result.

She is usually very happy.

She is always cooking spaghetti.

You are seldom anxious about my health.

Rule 3

When a verb has a helping verb, the adverb goes after the first part of the verb.

Examples:

Drivers should always wear a seat belt.

Richard doesn’t usually smoke.

Rule 4

Sometimes we use frequency adverbs at the beginning of the sentence.

Examples:

Always wash your hands before the meal!

Often he walked.

Sometimes I go skating.

Rule 5

Sometimes we use frequency adverbs at the end of the sentence.

Examples:

We read books occasionally.

They like to watch TV often.

We go to school by bike sometimes.

Mistakes to Avoid with Adverbs of Frequency

While using adverbs of frequency is relatively straightforward, there are some common mistakes that English learners often make. Understanding these mistakes will help you use these adverbs more accurately.

Misplacing Adverbs: One of the most common mistakes is misplacing adverbs of frequency within a sentence. To avoid this mistake, follow the general rules for adverb placement in the previous section. 

For example:

  • She usually works on Fridays.
  • They have never been to Japan.

Using Multiple Frequency Adverbs in One Sentence: Avoid placing two frequency adverbs together in one statement; this often ends up turning your sentence into a contradiction. For instance, do not say “I always sometimes cook dinner.” Instead, choose a single adverb of frequency that accurately conveys the intended meaning.

Incorrect Context: Another mistake to avoid is using an adverb of frequency in the wrong context, which may confuse your audience or convey the wrong message. For example, using “always” in a situation where “often” would be more appropriate can lead to misunderstandings. Be mindful of the precise meaning of each adverb and choose the one that best fits the context.

Adverb of Frequency Video

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common adverbs of frequency?

Common adverbs of frequency include: always, usually, often, sometimes, occasionally, rarely, and never. These words help convey how often an action occurs or a situation arises.

How do adverbs of frequency differ from adverbs of degree and time?

Adverbs of frequency describe how often an action occurs, while adverbs of degree express the intensity or extent of an action, and adverbs of time indicate when an action takes place. For example: “She barely made it on time” (degree), “They will arrive tomorrow” (time).

Can you provide examples of using adverbs of frequency in sentences?

Certainly. Here are some examples:

  • They always have lunch together.
  • She rarely watches television.
  • He sometimes forgets his keys.
  • We usually go to the park on Saturdays.

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Last Updated on November 14, 2023

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