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Basic Grammar #4


Adverbs of frequency

Adverbs of frequency

Meaning and use

Adverbs give us more information about a verb. Adverbs of frequency tell us how often an activity happens. There are many adverbs to choose from. Here are some of the most common ones, listed from most frequent to least frequent

always walk to work..

They usually arrive late.

My father often forgets his birthday.

He sometimes wakes up early.

rarely drink tea in the morning.

You hardly ever say you love me.

Jenny never drinks coffee in the evening.

We can use adverbs of frequency with the verb to be.

We are never unhappy.

This time of year is usually the coldest.


We can use modal verbs with adverbs of frequency. For example, we can use the auxiliary verbs canshould and might, which express ability (can)obligation (should), and possibility (might).

Laura can sometimes hold her breath for over a minute.

You should always put on sun cream when it’s very sunny.

We might never see each other again.



Adverbs of frequency go before the main verb.

subject + adverb + main verb

always eat breakfast.

They sometimes take a taxi.

They go after the verb ‘to be’.

subject + to be + adverb + main verb

am always late for work.

He is often ready for work at 6 am.

We aren’t usually hungry in the morning.


They go between a modal and the main verb.

subject + modal + adverb + main verb

You should always wear a helmet.

can sometimes hear my neighbour’s TV.



always take the bus into town.

Jenny is often late for work.



The adverb of frequency goes between the auxiliary and the main verb.

We don’t usually watch TV after lunch.

They can’t always wait for you.


It goes after ‘to be’.

am not always this organised.

They aren’t usually late.



For questions, the order is auxiliary + subject + adverb of frequency + verb.

Do you always eat here?

Does he usually do that?


Take note: negative adverbs

Negative adverbs such as never, seldomrarely and hardly ever cannot be used in negative sentences. The following sentence is incorrect, because it has a double negative.

WRONG: The weather isn’t never sunny.

CORRECT: The weather is never sunny.


Take note: sometimes

Sometimes can go before the subject, before the main verb, and after the main verb.

Sometimes we go fishing.

We sometimes go fishing.

We go fishing sometimes.


Take note: adverbs of frequency and the present continuous

We usually use adverbs of frequency with the present simple, but they can also be used with the present continuous. The adverb comes between the auxiliary and the main verb.

She’s always losing her phone.


Spoken English

Some people pronounce the /t/ sound in often; other people pronounce often with a ‘silent t’. Both are acceptable.




Source: BBC learning English

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