Adverbs of Frequency

English Grammar Rules

We use some adverbs to describe how frequently we do an activity.

These are called adverbs of frequency and include:

Frequency Adverb of Frequency Example Sentence
100% always I always go to bed before 11pm.
90% usually I usually have cereal for breakfast.
80% normally / generally I normally go to the gym.
70% often* / frequently I often surf the internet.
50% sometimes I sometimes forget my wife's birthday.
30% occasionally I occasionally eat junk food.
10% seldom I seldom read the newspaper.
5% hardly ever / rarely I hardly ever drink alcohol.
0% never I never swim in the sea.

* Some people pronounce the 'T' in often but many others do not.


The Position of the Adverb in a Sentence

An adverb of frequency goes before a main verb (except with To Be).

Subject + adverb + main verb
I always remember to do my homework.
He normally gets good marks in exams.

An adverb of frequency goes after the verb To Be.

Subject + to be + adverb
They are never pleased to see me.
She isn't usually bad tempered.

When we use an auxiliary verb (have, will, must, might, could, would, can, etc.), the adverb is placed between the auxiliary and the main verb. This is also true for to be.

Subject + auxiliary + adverb + main verb
She can sometimes beat me in a race.
I would hardly ever be unkind to someone.
They might never see each other again.
They could occasionally be heard laughing.

We can also use the following adverbs at the start of a sentence:

Usually, normally, often, frequently, sometimes, occasionally

  • Occasionally, I like to eat Thai food.

BUT we cannot use the following at the beginning of a sentence:

Always, seldom, rarely, hardly, ever, never.


We use hardly ever and never with positive, not negative verbs:

  • She hardly ever comes to my parties.
  • They never say 'thank you'.

We use ever in questions and negative statements:

  • Have you ever been to New Zealand?
  • I haven't ever been to Switzerland. (The same as 'I have never been Switzerland').

We can also use the following expressions when we want to be more specific about the frequency:

- every day - once a month - twice a year - four times a day - every other week

Adverbs of Frequency in English


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If you would like to play an interactive game about Adverbs of Frequency, visit: Adverbs of Frequency Word Order Game.

To see more information about adverbs, check out: Adverbs


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Last Updated: 05 November 2014
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