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Adverbs of Frequency: Full List with Examples & Exercises

Adverbs of frequency tell us how often we do things or how often things happen. They can either describe definite frequency (daily, every week, annually) or indefinite frequency (always, usually, never). For example: I go swimming every week vs. I never go swimming.

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Common adverbs of frequency include: always, constantly, (in)frequently, generally, hardly ever, never, normally, occasionally, often, rarely, regularly, sometimes, usually.

In this study guide, we will walk you through all the adverbs of frequency with examples of how to use each of them in a sentence. Don’t forget to check out the exercises at the end to test your understanding!

What you will learn: (quick nav links)

 

What are adverbs of frequency?

We use adverbs of frequency to say how often we do things or how often things happen. These come in two types – definite vs. indefinite.


There are adverbs that describe definite frequency (we know exactly how often something happens) such as: weekly/every week, daily/every day, or yearly/every year. For example, John plays tennis weekly or I go to the shops every day.

Then there are adverbs that describe indefinite frequency (they give us an idea about frequency but don’t tell us an exact time frame) such as: always, usually, occasionally, or never. For example, He usually sits at the front of the classroom or I never listen to rock music.

 

To help better understand the frequency associated with each adverb, it can be useful to place them on a percentage line. For example, always would be 100% (it happens 100% of the time) and never would be 0% (it happens 0% of the time). The other adverbs of frequency would fall between these two positions.
 

How do we use them?

Word order can be tricky with adverbs. Where do adverbs of frequency go in a sentence? At the beginning or the end? Do they go before or after the verb? Let’s take a look at some of the rules!

Most adverbs of frequency go in the middle of a sentence, before the main verb:

Subject + adverb of frequency + main verb
e.g. We usually go to the cinema on Saturdays.

Basic statement: We go to the cinema on Saturdays. If I want to let you know about the frequency (how often) we do this, then I need to use an adverb. The main verb is ‘go’, so we put the adverb before this.

Here are some more examples:

  • He wears a hat. If I want to let you know how often he wears a hat, then I need to use an adverb. The verb here is ‘wear’ so the adverb goes before it: He always wears a hat.
  • He’s late. Again, if I want to tell you the frequency of his lateness, then I need an adverb. Here, the verb is ‘late’ so the adverb of frequency would go before it: He’s always late.


Auxiliary verb
When there is an auxiliary verb (e.g. have, will, shall, would, should, can, could, may, might, must) followed by a main verb, then the adverb goes between the auxiliary verb and the main verb:

Subject + auxiliary verb + adverb of frequency + main verb
Here are some examples:

  • Positive: She must listen to her teacher. ‘Must’ is the auxiliary verb and ‘listen’ is the main verb, so we put the adverb of frequency in the middle: She must always listen to her teacher. It is the same rule as before – the adverb goes before the main verb.
  • Negative: I don’t go to bed until it’s dark. This time ‘don’t’ is the auxiliary verb, ‘go’ is the main verb, and we put the adverb of frequency between them: I don’t usually go to bed until it’s dark.
  • Question: Has Sarah lived in Amsterdam? As usual the subject and auxiliary verb change places in question order. The adverb of frequency goes between the auxiliary verb (has) and the main verb (lived), and immediately after the subject (Sarah): Has Sarah always lived in Amsterdam?

The verb ‘to be’ (the exception!)

When using an adverb with the verb ‘to be’, you need to be careful with the word order because the adverb of frequency comes after it (not before!):

Subject + to be + adverb of frequency
Here are some examples:


  • I am always tired after work. 
  • She is never 
  • They are constantly

Beginning of the sentence
Some adverbs of frequency can go at the beginning of a sentence:

Adverb of frequency + subject + main verb
The adverbs that can go at the beginning of a sentence are: Frequently, generally, normally, occasionally, sometimes and usually. Notice how these words are followed by a comma in written English.

Here are some examples:

  • Generally, I go to the shops on Saturday morning before they get busy. (You can also put the adverb between the subject and main verb: I generally go…)
  • Occasionally, we go to a restaurant for dinner. (or We occasionally go…)
  • Normally, I get the bus to work. (or I normally get…)

Watch out for mistakes with always, hardly ever, rarely, never and seldom because these adverbs cannot go at the beginning of the sentence in Modern English. E.g. Rarely I work late = incorrect. ‘Rarely’ needs to go before the main verb. I rarely work late = correct. Exceptions can be found in older English and in literature: e.g. Seldom would he see her unaccompanied.

Definite frequency

Adverbs of definite frequency (e.g. hourly, daily, weekly or once, twice, three times) usually go at the end of the sentence:

  • I visit my parents weekly.
  • She looks in the mirror every 5 minutes!
  • They go on holiday twice a year.

To give emphasis, adverbs of definite frequency can sometimes go at the beginning of a sentence:

  • Every day, more than five thousand people die in road accidents.

 

42 Adverbs of frequency: A-Z list with examples

Almost always
    She’s almost always late for our meetings.
    The postman almost always comes in the morning.

Almost never
    It almost never snows in March, but this year it did.
    He almost never smiles.

Always
    He’s always calling me on my mobile.
    I’ve always wanted to go to Mexico.

Annually
    My phone contract renews annually.
    Our company trade show takes place annually in London.

Even native speakers often confuse the adverbs constantly/continuously and continually! We should use constantly/continuously when the action never stops, but use continually when the action repeats frequently (but with small breaks). E.g. lightning cannot strike continuously, but it can strike continually.

Constantly
    I’m constantly on trains that break down!
    You’re constantly annoying me with your singing.

Continually
    We continually heard thunder throughout the night.
    He was continually disruptive in class so the teacher sent him out.

Continuously
    Scientists say the polar ice caps are continuously changing.
    My teacher tries to correct my English continuously!

Daily
    When the weather’s nice, I go for a walk daily.
    I try to do exercise twice a day because it helps me keep fit.

We can also say daily exercise or a daily walk, but then we are using ‘daily’ as an adjective (describes the noun), not an adverb (describes the action of the verb). In conversation, Brits often say ‘every day’ (informal) instead of ‘daily’ (formal). Saying once/twice/three times a day is far more common than saying once/twice/three times daily (formal).

Eventually
    Harry eventually told his wife the truth about the broken vase.
    After walking in the forest for hours, they eventually found the road.

Ever
    If you’re ever in London, you should go to the British Museum.
    We’ve only ever talked on the phone, never in person.

Frequently
    Sally’s attitude to school is poor and her homework is frequently late.
    People frequently confuse Anna and Sarah as they look so alike.

Generally
    It’s generally hot here in June, but this year it was freezing!
    Generally, I prefer vegetarian food to meat dishes.

Hardly ever
    Tim hardly ever drinks alcohol.
    It does rain in the desert, but hardly ever.

Hourly
    He’s on a short-term contract so he gets paid hourly.
    The train goes into London once an hour.

Infrequently
    My grandmother still attends church services, but rather infrequently.
    Alcohol can be good for one’s health when consumed infrequently. 

To make questions about frequency, we normally use ‘How often…?’. For example:
How often do you go to the cinema? However, it’s also possible to ask questions with an adverb of frequency. For example: Does he always sit there? Do you come here regularly? Do they ever pay on time?

Intermittently
    Wars in Europe have taken place intermittently throughout the last century.
    She woke up intermittently during the night.

Later
    We’ll come over later, after we’ve been to the shops.
    See you later, alligator! (In a while, crocodile!)

Monthly
    I pay my phone bill monthly.
    I meet up with my school friends monthly.

Nearly always
    It’s nearly always packed (busy) in this cafe.
    She nearly always wears the same clothes.

Never
    I’ve never been to the United States.
    She’s never tried Chinese food before.

Next
    See you next time.
    They planned to come back next year.

Nightly
    Sarah and Chris watch Game of Thrones every night.
    The local bar serves cocktails nightly.

Normally
    I normally go to the gym on Mondays.
    Normally, I walk the dog before work, but this morning it was raining. 

There are some idioms in English that can play the role of adverbs of frequency. These include expressions like now and then (also: now and again or every now and then), from time to time, time and again, or once in a while. For example: We still meet up every now and then. I buy a newspaper from time to time. I’ve told you time and again – don’t wear your dirty shoes in the house! It’s good for the garden to have some rain once in a while!

Now
    I don’t want anything to eat now, but I’ll have something later.
    My uncle used to run the family business, but my cousin is the owner now.

Occasionally
    Hannah will occasionally call Mark. (emphasis)
    I occasionally meet my colleagues for a drink after work.

Often
    How often do you go abroad for your holidays?
    I often go for a jog in the morning.

Native English speakers often use more informal equivalents in conversation. For example, instead of saying “I often go to the cinema with my friends”, they’re more likely to say “I go to the cinema loads with my mates”. Brits usually say ‘loads/a lot’ instead of ‘often’, and ‘much’ can also replace ‘often’, as in: “I don’t go shopping much these days”.

Periodically
    Our company mailing lists are updated periodically.
    Senior management periodically reschedule our meetings.

Quarterly
    Our financial reports are published quarterly.
    We make trips to HQ quarterly to touch base with our managers.

Rarely
    I’m currently at uni so I see my parents quite rarely.
    My grandma rarely goes out these days.

Regularly
    We regularly argue over money.
    They attend Church regularly.

Scarcely ever
    We scarcely ever go to the theatre.
    They scarcely ever call us anymore.

When learning adverbs of frequency, you need to watch out for old-fashioned adverbs. For example, most Brits wouldn’t use scarcely ever, seldom or infrequently when talking to friends. Instead we’re more likely to say hardly ever.

Seldom
    I seldom read books as I prefer watching TV.
    The film version is seldom better than the original book.

Sometimes
    We sometimes go swimming in the lake.
    Sometimes they come to us, sometimes we go to their place.

Soon
    Hannah sold the house soon after she split up with Sam.
    See you soon!

Then
    We used to be close friends, but things were very different then.
    We were both at school then.

Today
    I’m not working today.
    She’s been travelling for a week, but she’s arriving home today.

Tonight
    Let’s talk tonight.
    Are you going out tonight?

We can use adverbs of degree to change the meaning of adverbs of frequency. It is common for native speakers to do this in everyday conversation. Examples of these combinations are: fairly often, quite regularly, rather late, pretty rarely etc.

Usually
    I usually have porridge for breakfast on weekdays.
    Usually, I have porridge, but today I fancy something different.

Weekly
    The local football team plays its matches weekly.
    Employee timesheets must be submitted weekly.

Yearly
    They update their product catalogue yearly.
    We have to renew our insurance policy each year.

Yesterday
    Ian got paid yesterday.
    I went to the DIY shop yesterday to pick up some supplies.

Yet
    I haven’t eaten my lunch yet.
    I haven’t seen Anna yet.
 

Adverbs of Frequency Exercises

Exercise 1

Write the adverb of frequency in the correct place.
E.g. I _______ pay _______ my phone bill ___monthly___.

  1. I __________ think ____________ about __________ becoming a singer. (often)
  2. She ____________ goes ____________ swimming ____________ . (once a month)
  3. He’s ____________ eating  ____________ porridge ____________. (always)
  4. We ____________ walk ____________ the dogs ____________. (in the morning)
  5. I ____________ have ____________ seen ____________ him before. (never)
Exercise 2

Put these sentences in order of frequency (A = most frequent, B = middle frequency, C = least frequent)
E.g. I am usually late = A

  1. They sometimes listen to the radio. ___
  2. You are always late. ___
  3. She rarely talks to me. ___
  4. He never listens to what I’m saying. ___
  5. They occasionally help. ___
Exercise 3

Are these adverbs of frequency definite or indefinite? Circle the correct answer.
E.g. every year = definite

  1. Always = definite /indefinite
  2. Yearly = definite / indefinite
  3. Every day = definite / indefinite
  4. Never = definite / indefinite
  5. Annually = definite / indefinite
Exercise 4

Enter the adverb of frequency next to the correct percentage to show the frequency associated with it. The first one has been done for you!

100% __Always______
90% _______________
80% _______________
70% _______________
50% _______________
30% _______________
10% _______________
0% _______________

Often, Never, Usually, Normally, Hardly ever, Occasionally, Sometimes

Exercise 5

Put these words in the correct order to create a sentence.
E.g. Fish / never / eat / I = I never eat fish.

  1. enjoyed / swimming / have / I / always
  2. never / she / on time / is
  3. holiday / go / once a year / on / they
  4. trainers / I / normally / wear
  5. rarely / music / listen / they / to
Exercise 6

Put the adverb of frequency in brackets into the correct place in the sentence.
E.g. I eat salad. (always) = I always eat salad.

  1. He helps with the washing up. (never)
  2. She reads at lunchtime. (always)
  3. They go fishing together. (normally)
  4. She brushes her teeth. (every day)
  5. I take the train. (once a month)

————————————————————————————————————–

Answers:

Exercise 1
  1. I often think about becoming a singer.
  2. She goes swimming once a month.
  3. He’s always eating porridge.
  4. We walk the dogs in the morning.
  5. I have never seen him before.
Exercise 2
  1. They sometimes listen to the radio. _B_
  2. You are always late. _A_
  3. She rarely talks to me. _C_
  4. He never listens to what I’m saying _C_
  5. They occasionally help. _B_
Exercise 3
  1. Always = indefinite
  2. Yearly = definite
  3. Every day = definite
  4. Never = indefinite
  5. Annually = definite
Exercise 4

100%   Always
90%     Usually
80%     Normally
70%     Often
50%     Sometimes
30%     Occasionally
10%     Hardly ever
0%       Never

Exercise 5
  1. I have always enjoyed swimming.
  2. She is never on time.
  3. They go on holiday once a year.
  4. Normally, I wear trainers. / I normally wear trainers.
  5. They rarely listen to music
Exercise 6
  1. He never helps with the washing up.
  2. She always reads at lunchtime.
  3. They normally go fishing together. / Normally, they go fishing together.
  4. She brushes her teeth every day.
  5. I take the train once a month.

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Written by
Esther Kersley
Staff Writer
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