Adverbs of Frequency

Express how often an action occurs

Recycling Symbol
 

 

FREQUENCY SENTENCE

An adverb of frequency is used to express how often an activity occurs.  The following adverbs quantify the repetition.

The exact frequency indicated by these words will vary from speaker to speaker. A word such as customarily suggests a frequency set by culture, routinely suggests a frequency set as part of a job, as a rule suggests a scheduled or understood code for frequency. 

thermometer


always 

routinely    (customarily)

as a rule

in general

normally

usually

garbage

We always take the garbage out at night.

We routinely take the garbage out at night.

As a rule, we take the garbage out at night.

In general, we take the garbage out at night. (There are few exceptions.)

We normally take the garbage out at night.  (Unless something unexpected prevents this.)

We usually take the garbage out at night.  (Sometimes we're too tired.)

thermometer

 

 


most of the time

often

frequently

half of the time


Recylable items

Most of the time, we take the garbage out at night.  (Sometimes we forget to.)

We often take out the recyclables.  recyclables (N) – bottles, plastics, paper

We frequently take out the recyclables. (We take it out when the container is full.) 

Half of the time, we take out the recyclables.

thermometer


sometimes

occasionally

on occasion

rarely

seldom

hardly ever


batteries

We sometimes take batteries out. 

We occasionally take batteries out. 

On occasion , we take batteries out. 

We rarely take batteries out. (We don't use many batteries.)

We seldom take batteries out. 

We hardly ever take batteries out.  (Use ever after a negative word.)

thermometer

 

 


never

not ever


Hazardous waste

We never take hazardous waste out.  (We use them up and then recycle the containers.)

We don't ever take hazardous waste out.  (Use ever after a negative word.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adverbs of Frequency

Sentence Position

 

 

 

 

Select one position for the adverb:

 

 

Initial, Medial or Final Adverb Placement

ADVERB SUBJECT AUX ADVERB VERB OBJECT PHRASE ADVERB
INITIAL (emphasis)          

Most of the time,
Usually,
Normally
Often,
Half of the time,
Sometimes,
Frequently,
Occasionally,
Once in a while

 

my family

 

 

 

(no aux.)

can
will
doesn't

is

has
had

 

recycles


recycle


recycling


recycled

household garbage.

 

 

      MEDIAL    
 

My family

 

 

 

(no aux.)

can
will
doesn't

is

has
had

always
usually
often
sometimes
frequently

occasionally
rarely
seldom
hardly ever
never

recycles


recycle


recycling


recycled

household garbage.

            FINAL
 

My family

 

 

 

(no aux.)

can
will
doesn't

is

has
had

 

recycles


recycle


recycling


recycled

household garbage

most of the time.
usually.
normally.
often.
half of the time.
sometimes.
frequently.
occasionally.
once in a while.
 

household (Adj) – related to the operation of a house

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adverbs of Frequency

Negatives

 

 

 

Verb Inversion after Negative Adverbs of Frequency

INITIAL POSITION

When a negative adverb – never, rarely, seldom, hardly ever – is placed at the beginning of a sentence for emphasis, the auxiliary of the verb is moved in front of the subject.

"BE" VERB

*Seldom we are home in the day time. (We seldom are at home in the daytime.)

*At no time the President was free.   (*The President at no time was free.)

*Hardly ever we have been so optimistic.  (We have hardly ever had so little rain.)

*Seldom he had been away from home before then.  (He had seldom been away….)

ALL OTHER VERBS

*Never we have much time together.  (We never have much time together.)

*Never we spend much time together. 

*At no time the President went out alone.  (The President at no time went out alone.)

*Hardly ever we have had so little rain.  (We have hardly ever had so little rain.)

*Seldom he had worked hard before becoming a father.  (He had seldom worked hard….)

 

FIXES

After a negative adverb, place the  auxiliary verb (do, does, is, are, am, have, has, had, can, may, etc.) before the subject and main verb.  Initial placement of the adverb is for emphasis.

 

Seldom are we are   home in the day time.
move right move auxiliary left

At no time was the President was free.
move right move auxiliary left

Hardly ever have we been so optimistic.  (present perfect)
move right move auxiliary left

Seldom had he been away from home before then.  (past perfect)
move right move auxiliary left

 

Never do we have much time together.  (present)

Never can we spend much time together.  (present – modals)
move right move auxiliary left

At no time did the President go out alone.  (past)
move right move auxiliary left

Hardly ever have we had so little rain.  (present perfect)
move right move auxiliary left

Seldom had he worked hard before becoming a father.  (past perfect)
move right move auxiliary left

 

*Words marked with an asterisk, yellow highlighted words, are examples of incorrect or awkward usage.
optimistic (Adj) – believing good things will happen in the future

 

 

 

 

 

Adverbs of Frequency

Ever / Never

 

 

 

Occurrence vs Experience

NEGATIVE OCCURANCE

Use ever after a negative verb or expression, or never after a positive verb to mean not at all.  "zero repetition"

We never take hazardous waste out.
We don't ever take hazardous waste out.

I doubt we ever take hazardous waste out.

It's unlikely we ever take hazardous waste out.

I can hardly believe we would ever take hazardous waste out.
 

EXPERIENCE

Use ever with the present perfect tense to ask about experience.  "Have you done this before / at all?" "once?"

Have you ever taken hazardous waste out for recycling?  This is a simple question.

Have you never recycled your garbage?  * This is a question implying: I think you have.

Have you ever recycled paint cans before?

 No, I've never ever done that. 

 

Asking a  negative question invites the other person to agree:  Have you never told a lie? (I think you have.)  Yes, I have but…
Also see present perfect Experience 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Habits & Routines

Two people eating
 

 

Complete the sentence with a frequency adverb.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.

 

1.

2.

3.

4.
for breakfast with friends   (Where should you place the expression?)

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.
Our daughters cook for us

once in a blue moon (expression) — a blue moon occurs (rarely) when there are two moons in one calendar month

12.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

Fifty-Fifty Family

make a bed doing dishes
 

 

Read for Errors

My wife and I always share the housework fifty–fifty.  I mostly always do the laundry.  She makes routinely the beds. Most of time, she cooks and serves our dinner, and I am usual to wash the dishes.  I hardly never break dishes. She vacuums the floors in general, and I dust here and there.

She oftenly mops the kitchen floor because we have two dogs. Seldom we walk our dogs. But they usually mostly get enough exercise running around with our kids. Together, my wife and I get our work done, and we rarely ever fight about workload.

dust (V) – to wipe away dirt and small particles with a cloth

fifty-fifty – share equally; 50%

laundry (N) – the washing of clothes

workload (N) – amount of work each person does

 

 

Edit for Errors

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.

 

13.
My wife and I always share the housework fifty–fifty.


14.
I mostly always do the laundry.


15.
She makes routinely the beds.


16.
Most of time, she cooks and serves our dinner, and I am usual to wash the dishes.


17.
I hardly never break dishes.


18.
She vacuums the floors in general, and I dust here and there.


19.
She oftenly mops the kitchen floor because we have two dogs.


20.
Seldom we walk our dogs.


21.
But they usually mostly get enough exercise running around with our kids.


22.
Together, my wife and I get our work done, and we rarely ever fight about our workload.