Adverbs for Time

Express when an action happens

clock
 

 

Time is Relative

TIME FRAME    [TEMPORAL LOCATION]
EARLIER CURRENT LATER 

yesterday

now

tomorrow

last Sunday

today

next Sunday

that Sunday

tonight

the coming Sunday

earlier

presently

 

later

 

SPECIFICITY   how specific?
SPECIFIC TIME UNSPECIFIC / INDEFINITE

at noon

as we speak

on June 25 at 10 p.m.

when we meet

on Easter Day

after that (later)

in 2020

this month (sometime)

OCCURRENCE  [FREQUENCY–DURATION]
ONCE single event REPEATED ONGOING

last Sunday

every Sunday

during the weekend

on graduation day

several times

for 24 hours

when I was born

always

since last Sunday

 

sometimes

continuously

DURATION  lasting how long?
TEMPORARY  changeable PERMANENT

just for today
temporarily

always

right now

forever

this week

eternally

for the time being

never /ever

EXPECTED COMPLETION   on time?  [ASPECT]
EARLY LATE

already

yet

 

soon

 

still

 

finally

PERSONAL TIME FRAME  recent? [DEIXIS]
NEAR DISTANT

this year

that year

in these days

in those days

recently, just

then

lately

back then

 

Adverb practice pages:  Present adverbs,  Past adverbs, Future adverbs,  Present perfect adverbs  

Also see Huddleston 6 §7 — temporal location, duration, acpectuality, frequency, serial order (again, first, last, next)

 

 

 

 

 

Word Categories

Used in Adverbial Expressions

 

 

 

Determiners > Demonstrativesthis, that, these, those

Temporal Nouns afternoon, evening, morning, yesterday, today, tomorrow, day, week, month, year , moment, instant, minute, second

Temporal Adverbs: late, lately, later, early, earlier, currently, formerly, immediately, recently, soon, subsequently, nowadays;

Aspectual Adverbs: still already, yet, any longer, any more

Duration Adverbs: for since, during, all (day, week)

Frequency Adverbs: always, sometimes, usually, occasionally, rarely, never

Serial Adverbs: first, last, next, again

Prepositions: after, afterward(s), ago, already, as, as soon as, at, before, between, by, during, for, in, into, now, on, once, since, toward(s), then, until, when, while

Also see Preps for Time.

 

 

 

 

Present Adverbs

Present and Present Progressive

 

 

Adverbs for Present Tense

PRESENT PROGRESSIVE – MORE TEMPORARY

Adverbs for the present progressive indicate a more temporary state, at the moment of speaking. The focus is on the present time period, with a larger range of time, for example this month, and not on time that has passed.

NOW THIS ...

at the moment

today / tonight (word origin – this day, this night) 

now (for now, just now)

this morning (a time not yet passed¹)

currently

this week

presently

this month

for a little while (for the time being)

this semester

as we speak

this year

PRESENT – MORE PERMANENT

Adverbs for the present tense indicate a more permanent state and tell how often an activity occurs or is repeated. ¹Statements of fact or general truth rarely occur with adverbs.  

EVERY ... FREQUENCY

every day  (night, week, month, year, etc.)

always (routinely, customarily, as a rule)

each day  (night, week, month, year, etc.)

usually (most of the time, in general, normally)

every other day  (night, week, year, etc.)

often (frequently, half of the time)

most weekends (nights, weeks, months, etc.) 

sometimes (occasionally, on occasion)

GENERAL TRUTH

general truth¹ (no adverb)

rarely (seldom, hardly ever, never, not ever)

 

never (not ever)

 

¹ A time period such as today (this morning, this week, this month, etc.) is made up of time that (1) has passed, (2) is present, (3) is coming-future—within the period.  For this reason, these adverbs may be used with past, present and future tenses.  I went to the doctor today.  I am going to the doctor today. I am going to / will go to the doctor today.

*Also ee Adverbs of Frequency    Adverbs of Time

 

 

 

 

 

 

Present Tense Sentences

PRESENT PRESENT PROGRESSIVE 

 Adverbs used with present nonprogressive specify frequency or are not stated at all

 Adverbs used with present progressive specify a temporary, short-term, or current time frame. 

The sun heats the earth. (general truth – no adverb)

I am heating some water for tea. (at the moment-no adverb)

Farmers usually plant their fields in spring. (habitual)

We are planting our tomatoes today. (at the moment – temporary)

Farmers normally water their fields every other day. (routine)

We are watering the garden currently. (temporary activity)

We usually make tomato sauce with our tomatoes. (custom) 

*(no equivalent sentence in the progressive verb form)

**(no equivalent sentence in the nonprogressive verb form)
 

We are rewriting our plan this month. (temporary change from the usual)
 

*We are usually making tomato sauce with our tomatoes.
** We rewrite our plan this month. (changes the meaning to a future scheduled activity)

 

 

Present tense practice pages:  Present–GenTruth,  Present–At Moment, Present–Habitual, Present ProgressiveAdverbs of Frequency

 

 

 

 

 

 

Past Adverbs

Past and Past Progressive

 

 

 

Adverbs for Both Past & Past Progressive Tenses

PAST & PAST PROGRESSIVE ADVERBS

Past tense verbs are used with adverbs specifying a past time or frequency of occurence. The emphasis is on action.

AT, IN, ON AGO, LAST THIS, THAT

A specific time in the past (clendar or clock times)

A past time based on quantity or calendar units

A past time before the current time  (near, far)

at 6:00 AM(at noon, at midnight)

a day ago (second, minute, hour, , week, month, year)  

this monday (week, month, year)  "the near, recent one"

on January 10 (Thursday)

last night (week, month, winter, year) 

that monday (week, month, year)  

in January (month)  / in 2006  (year) /

yesterday

 

these/ those weeks (days, months, years) 

in the 1960s (the 1800s, the early times)

   
     
PAST & PAST PROGRESSIVE ADVERBS

Past progressive verbs are used with adverbs specifying a past time, or expressing duration. The emphasis is on time.

RELATIVE TIME  FREQUENCY DURATION

A time relative to another past activity

A time that reoccurred in the past   

A time with duration in the past   

when he saw it¹

always (routinely, customarily, as a rule)

for three weeks (days, months, years) "a quantity of time"

while he was looking at it¹

usually (in general, normally)

from Monday to Friday  (a span of time)

whenever he looked at it²

often (frequently, half of the time) /

during the 1960s  (a period of time)

anytime he looked at it²

sometimes (occasionally, on occasion)

over the past few years (days, months)

if he looked at it

rarely (seldom, hardly ever, not ever, never)
 

continuously (continually)

 

several times (nonprogressive only)
Also see  During / In

 

 

Past Tense Sentences

PAST NONPROGRESSIVE PAST PROGRESSIVE 

 Adverbs used with the past nonprogressive tense tend to be past dates or relative past times.

 Adverbs used with past progressive tense tend to emphasize frequency, duration or repetition.

The volcano erupted on April 14 2010. (past event)

The volcano was erupting  for over month. (indefinite quantity of time)

A  journalist photographed the event last night. (past event)

A journalist was photographing the event from April to December. (time range)

People often wondered when it would stop. (emphasis on activity)

People were often wondering  when it would stop. (emphasis on frequency)

Airplanes did not fly  while it was happening. (relative time)

Airplanes were not flying  while it was happening. (relative time)

 

 

 

Past tense practice pages:   Past CompletePast ProgWould / Used toReporting SourcePast Series, After, Before, When 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Future Adverbs

Future and Future Progressive

 

 

 

Adverbs for Future

FUTURE & FUTURE PROGRESSIVE

Adverbs used with future tense tell us when a predicted or scheduled activity will occur.  Future tense focuses more on the activity rather than the exact time.

AT, IN, ON NEXT THIS, THAT

A specific time in the future

A future time based on quantity or calendar units

A future time after the current time  (near, far)

at 6:00 AM(at noon, at midnight)

next week( month, winter, year)  (origin: latest week)

this monday (week, month, year)  "the near, recent one"

on January 10 (Thursday)

tomorrow(today, tomight) (a time not yet passed)

that monday (week, month, year)  

in January  / in 2006  (year) / in the 1960s  (decade)

in a minute (second, a while, an hour, the coming week) 

these/ those weeks (weeks, days, months, years) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FUTURE & FUTURE PROGRESSIVE

Future progressive adverbs tell us how long or how often. Future progressive tense emphasizes the time of the activity: its temporary nature, its duration or repetition.

RELATIVE TIME  FREQUENCY DURATION

A time relative to another future activity

A time that reoccurs in the future   

A time with duration in the future   

when he sees it¹

always (as a rule, routinely, customarily, normally, )

for three weeks (days, months, years) "a quantity of time"

while he is looking at it¹

usually (most of the time, in general)

from Monday to Friday  (a span of time)

whenever he looks at it²

often (frequently, half of the time)

during the spring (summer, holiday, their visit)  during

anytime he looks at it²

sometimes (occasionally, on occasion)

over the next few years (minutes, days, months, winters)

if he looks at it

rarely (seldom, hardly ever, not ever, never) 

continuously (continually)

 

several times – used in nonprogressive sentences only

 

 

 

Future Tense Sentences

FUTURE NONPROGRESSIVE FUTURE PROGRESSIVE 

 Adverbs with the future nonprogressive express a specific or indefinite future time, or a relative future event. (I wil call you If I don't see you.) The future is formed with the modal will+ a base verb or with the present tense and a future adverb.

 Adverbs used with future progressive tend to emphasize duration or repetition.  In some cases, there is no difference in meaning when using the nonprogressive or progressive.  A clause with a future progressive tense may also serve as "backgrounding" a second clause with the "main event."

We will fly to Spain in January. (plan for a future date)

We will fly to Spain in January. (a plan for a future date)

We will fly to Spain when the game Olympic games begin.(relative activity) 

We will be flying to Spain when the game Olympic games begin. (relative activity or backgrounding)

We will fly to Spain next year. (prediction, plan, hope)

We will be flying to Spain next week. (prediction; emphasis on time)

We are going to take a four-week vacation soon.

(no equivalent progressive phrasing)

The plane leaves tonight. (scheduled future event)

The plane is leaving tonight. (scheduled future event)

I will be on the next plane.  (determination, will, volition)

(no equivalent progressive phrasing)

(no equivalent nonprogressive phrasing)

We will be walking to the beach by the time you arrive. (relative time)

We will call you if we have an extra room for you. (future condition)
 

(no equivalent progressive phrasing)
 

 

Future practice pages:  Will / Might,  Present–Scheduled, Will / Would, May / Can,  Present–Scheduled, After, Before, When, Prepositions of time, By the time

 

 

 

 

 

 

Present Perfect

Present Perfect and Present Perfect Progressive

 

 

 

Adverbs for Present Perfect Tense

ADVERBS FOR PRESENT PERFECT & PROGRESSIVE

Adverbs used with present perfect tell us when: how long or since when, and they express complex aspects such as frequency of occurrence, experience, recency, repetition or speaker's expectation for completion.  Present perfect sentences focus on the duration of time more than the activity.                  

SINCE/FOR SO FAR /THIS… RECENTLY

Use with activities that began in the past and continue to the present. 

Use with activities that began in the indefinite past and continue to the present.  

Use with activities that are completed but still within the speaker's present frame of mind.

since 6:00 AM (exact time – midnight, noon, this morning, July 2012)

so far( to date, up to now, until now)

recently

for a minute (hour, day, week, month, year, decade, the time being)

over the past year (weeks, decades, centuries)

lately

ever since then (Saturday, January, 2009, I met you) 

in my life (second, a while, an hour, the coming week,)

just

 

tonight(today)

 

 

this week (morning,  evening, week, month, year)

 

ADVERBS FOR PRESENT PERFECT & PROGRESSIVE

Present perfect progressive sentences tend to focus more on the activity — its repetition (several times) or ongoing (still) duration. Most present perfect adverbs are used with the progressive. However, an adverb of repetition is not generally used (and is awkward) with the progressive because the tense already has the meaning of repetition.

ALREADY / YET FREQUENCY REPETITION

Use with activities that occur earlier or later than the speaker expects.

Use with habitual activities beginning in the past and continuing to now.

Use with non-progressive verbs to express past repeated activity that continues.  

already (earlier than expected)

always (routinely, customarily, normally, as a rule)

repeatedly

yet (later than expected)

usually (most of the time, in general)

several times (instances, occasions) nonprogressive tense only

still (ongoing)

often (frequently, half of the time)

continuously (continually)

 

finally (later than expected)

sometimes (occasionally, on occasion)

again and again (over and over, time after time)

 

rarely (seldom, hardly ever, not ever, never)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sentences with Present Perfect Adverbs

PRESENT PERFECT NONPROGRESSIVE

Adverbs used with present perfect nonprogressive focus on the situation or activity.

ADVERBS OF FREQUENCY

They have always  worked to save the Tower of Pisa. duration, permanent

SO FAR

They have worked efficiently so far.

THIS

They have worked very hard this year.

SINCE / FOR

They have worked for twelve years / since 1998.

RECENCY

They have'nt worked on it lately.
 

ALREADY / YET

They have already  repaired the base.

REPETITION 

They have tried several times to save the Tower of Pisa.

PRESENT PERFECT PROGRESSIVE

 Adverbs used with present perfect progressive focus on the timing of the situation or activity.

ADVERBS OF FREQUENCY

They have  always been working to save the Tower of Pisa. emphasizes ongoing, repetition 

SO FAR

They have been working efficiently so far. emphasizes ongoing, repetition 

THIS

They have been working very hard this year. emphasizes ongoing, repetition 

SINCE / FOR

They have been working for twelve years / since 1998. emphasizes ongoing, repetition 

RECENCY

They have been working on it lately.

ALREADY / YET

*They have  already been repairing the foundation.  not used with progressive
 

REPETITION 

*They have been trying several times to save the Tower of Pisa.

The adverb is unnecessary (and awkward) because the tense carries the meaning of repetition.

 

They have been telling people over and over not to worry.  The won't let it fall over.  okay  

 

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.

 

 

 

Present Perfect (Simple) & Progressive Verb Types

SIMPLE TENSE VERB TYPES

A verb expressing a general situation or activity tends to be used in the nonprogressive tense for a situation that has continued from past to present.  These are also called "process verbs".

We have worked on the repairs for a year.  (labor on, undertake, manage)

They have become more modern.

He has traveled three thousand miles so far.

We have known the Kramers for several years.

PROGRESSIVE TENSE VERB TYPES

A verb expressing a detail activity (with a beginning and an end) tends to be used in the progressive tense with the meaning of ongoing, repetition. These are also called "punctual verbs".

We have been repairing cracks in the walls. (locate, fill, seal, etc.)

We have repaired the cracks in the wall.  (meaning differs: completed)

We have been visiting 11th century landmarks in Europe.  (see, travel to, tour)

He has been driving for a week. (drive, walk, pedal, etc.)

We have been taking trips with the Kramers for several years. (have dinner, go to games)

 

 

 

 

Experience – Ever / Never

STATEMENT NEGATIVE QUESTION

I have never been to Italy.

*I  have ever been to Italy. (incorrect)

Ever is used in a question or negative sentence.   

I have never been to Italy.

I haven't ever been to Italy.

*I haven't never been to Italy.  (incorrect - double negative)
 

Have you never been to Italy? (I think you have.)
No, I haven't  / Yes, I have.  ( Yes, I haven't.)

Have you ever been to Italy? (question)

See  Never /Ever |   Adverbs of Frequency for details.

 

Practice pages: Up to Now, So Far, Duration/ Repetition, Permanent/Temp, Experience, Ongoing, Just / Recently, Already / Yet, Present State of Mind 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

Linguistic Description

Advanced

 

 

Linguistic Description

ADVERBS OTHER

The traditional terms, "adverb" or "adverbial phrase" have undergone some changes.  Some words have been reassigned to other categories, such as Noun or Preposition.
For details, see Huddleston 8 §6.3, Biber 2.3.4, and Swan 22.6.

An adverb may be a verb complement (a required element) "The meeting is at noon.s  or a verb adjunct (not required) "The meeting will include a break at 2 p.m." The time may be an "interval" or a "point"; it may be "perfective" (completed) or "imperfective" (ongoing); It may have "polarity" (positive or negative context).   For other aspects, see Huddleston 8 §6.3. 

ADVERBS PREPOSITIONS 

currently, presently, immediately, earlier, early,  lately, recently, soon, formerly, subsequently

ADVWe'll see you early / soon / subsequently.

 

already, yet, still, any longer

NP positive – We finishing our project already.  (+ polarity)
NP negative – We haven't our project yet. (- polarity)

(Huddleston 6 §5.2, §7.1)

after, ago, at, before, between, by , during, in, into, on, since, toward

PP+NP – in, on, at, during, by   We'll see you in three weeks / in June / on Sunday / by dinner time / during the break.

PP + Finite Clause – before, after, as, once, since: We'll see you after we arrive / before we leave.

PP + Nonfinite Clause – before, after, between, on, once, since: We'll see you after arriving / before leaving.

PP – after, before, now, since, then, throughout: We'll see you afterwards.

 

ADVERBS OF FREQUENCY NOUNS

twice, always, sometimes, usually, etc.

Frequency ADVWe usually arrive on time.   (Adjunct –may be omitted)

"Adjuncts of frequency express quantification in the clause in a way which is comparable to that of quantifiers in the structure of NPs."   (Huddleston 8 §9)
He always falls. ==> He falls every time.

(Swan 23.3)

yesterday, today, tomorrow, tonight, Sunday, Monday, sometime, etc.

morning, noon, evening, night,

second, minute, moment, week, month, year

NPWe'll see you tonight / this evening.  (determiner + noun)

 

CATEGORIES:  NP –noun phrase; N – noun; VP – verb phrase; V – verb; Detdeterminer; PP – prepositional phrase; P – preposition; AdvP – adverb phrase; Adv – adverb; AdjP– adjective phrase; Adj – adjective; Nonfinite Clause / Finite Clause
FUNCTIONS: Subject:  Subject,   Predicate: Predicator (V) Complements: (elements required by verb) Object, Indirect Object, Predicative Complement  Adjuncts: (optional modifiers) Adj, Adv

 

Resources

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice

 

Adverb practice pages:  Present adverbs,  Past adverbs, Future adverbs,  Present perfect adverbs  

Present tense practice pages:  Present–GenTruth,  Present–At Moment, Present–Habitual, Present ProgressiveAdverbs of Frequency

Past tense practice pages:   Past CompletePast ProgWould / Used toReporting SourcePast Series, After, Before, When 

Future practice pages:  Will / Might,  Present–Scheduled, Will / Would, May / Can,  Present–Scheduled, After, Before, When, Prepositions of time, By the time

Present perfect practice pages: Up to Now, So Far, Duration/ Repetition, Permanent/Temp, Experience, Ongoing, Just / Recently, Already / Yet, Present State of Mind