Adverbs of Frequency in English

adverbs of frequency

Adverbs of Frequency

Adverbs of frequency tell us how often someone does something or how often something occurs.

Adverbs are one of the parts of speech, and they have a few different jobs. But one of their most important jobs is to give us more information about a verb. Adverbs of frequency answer the question, ‘with what frequency is action or situation occurring?’

There are two types of adverb of frequency, indefinite and definite. Knowing the two types will help you put the adverbs in the correct places in your sentences.

Adverbs of Indefinite Frequency

Notice where the adverbs of indefinite frequency are located in the sentences.

adverbs of frequency placement

Some adverbs can also go at the end or the beginning of a sentence.

You can put the adverb at the front of the sentence to emphasize the frequency.

Always Judy wakes up early.
Usually, she gets up at 5:00 AM.
Normally, she takes a shower around 5:15.
Often, she sings in the shower.
Sometimes she has toast with her coffee.
Occasionally she has fruit instead.
Seldom is she sad.
Never is she late for work.

Avoid putting always, never, often, and seldom at the beginning of a sentence. It is archaic and considered incorrect.

Punctuation Tip – A comma after an adverb at the beginning of the sentence is common, but it is optional. If you want a brief pause, add a comma. Otherwise, you can leave it out.

You can also put most adverbs at the end of the sentence, as an afterthought.

Judy wakes up early always.
She gets up at 5:00 AM usually.
She takes a shower around 5:15 normally.
She sings in the shower often.
She has toast with her coffee sometimes.
She has fruit instead occasionally.
She is sad seldom.
She is late for work never.

Notice that always, never, and seldom don’t go at the end.

Punctuation Tip – Notice that we don’t put a comma before the adverb.

For beginner students, it’s best to get in the habit of putting these adverbs of indefinite frequency in the middle of the sentence, between the subject and the verb. Remember that to be and auxiliary verbs are special. If you have the verb to be or a modal auxiliary, put the adverb after it.

Judy usually walks to work.
Judy can’t always walk to work because she doesn’t always have enough time.
Judy is often happy to walk.
Judy is normally walking by the park at 7:30 AM.
Judy’s coworkers are seldom in the office before she is.

Adverbs of Definite Frequency

Adverbs of Definite Frequency
once or twice
three times
once a day

A rule of thumb is to put these types of adverbs at the end of the sentence.

Americans usually shower once a day.
The family pays the bills monthly.
Does Diego wash his hands hourly?

Notice that when the -ly word goes before a noun, it’s an adjective, not an adverb.
The daily news. The monthly bills.

Try the adverbs of frequency peace quiz (B1-B2)