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 11 p.m.
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.

These are also known as Adverbs of INDEFINITE frequency as the exact frequency is not defined.

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

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:

We use ever in questions and negative statements:


Adverbs of Frequency in English

Adverbs of Definite Frequency

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

These are also known as Adverbs of DEFINITE frequency as the exact frequency is specified.

See our video for details about these types of Adverbs:

Next activities

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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