Adverbs are very important words in English! They are one of the 8 parts of English speech. However, there are many different types of adverbs. It’s often difficult to remember where to put adverbs in a sentence.
In this grammar article, you’ll learn specifically about adverbs of frequency and how to use them in a sentence.
1. What is an ‘adverb’?
An adverb describes a verb. It gives more information about the verb.
2. What is an ‘adverb of frequency’?
An adverb of frequency answers the question: “How often (do you do something)?” It is used to describe how many times you do something.
For example, in the listening lesson “Library Books!” I talked about a terrible habit I have:
I never remember to return my library books on time!
3) Indefinite Adverbs of Frequency
(This is not a complete list! These are the most commonly used adverbs of frequency.)
*Indefinite adverbs usually go before the main verb…
She rarely drinks.
I usually skip breakfast.
He often has to work late.
I have never smoked a cigarette.
Even when there is an auxiliary or ‘helping’ verb in the sentence, the adverb of frequency always goes after the auxiliary verb and before the main verb:
I have never eaten so much food in my life!
You can’t always get what you want!
a) Adverbs of frequency go after the verb be…
He is always late for class!
She is constantly nagging me to lose weight.
My friend is rarely on time for anything.
b) Sometimes, occasionally, normally, and usually, can also go at the beginning or end of a sentence:
Usually I exercise at night, not in the morning.
He likes to watch reality TV sometimes.
Occasionally she smokes a cigarette.
Normally I don’t do this, but I’ll make an exception for you!
c) Frequently, constantly, regularly and most other adverbs of frequency can also go at the end of a sentence. (Always, rarely, and seldom, CANNOT go at the end of a sentence.)
My mother calls me on the phone frequently.
I exercise regularly.
I drink water constantly.
She always complains about the weather.
She complains about the weather always.
d) Negative adverbs of frequency (e.g. rarely, seldom, never) are not used in negative sentences or questions.
I rarely drink alcohol.
She doesn’t rarely drink alcohol.
Do you rarely drink alcohol?
(Remember, you can’t use double negatives/2 negative words in the same sentence in English!)
4) Definite adverbs of frequency
Definite adverbs of frequency are more specific than indefinite adverbs of frequency.
every day / hour / month / year / etc.
all the time
most of the time
most mornings / afternoon / evenings
once in a while
once / twice / etc.
once a week
*Definite adverbs of frequency can go at the beginning or end of a sentence. They never go in the middle of the sentence.
The cleaning staff cleans the hotel rooms daily.
The cleaning staff daily cleans the hotel rooms.
I see her at the gym all the time.
Do you go to school every day?
~ No, I don’t go to school every day?
He takes his kids to school most mornings.
Once in a while my mother babysits the kids.