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.
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)
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
Adverbs of definite frequency (e.g. hourly, daily, weekly or once, twice, three times) usually go at the end of the sentence:
To give emphasis, adverbs of definite frequency can sometimes go at the beginning of a sentence:
She’s almost always late for our meetings.
The postman almost always comes in the morning.
It almost never snows in March, but this year it did.
He almost never smiles.
He’s always calling me on my mobile.
I’ve always wanted to go to Mexico.
My phone contract renews annually.
Our company trade show takes place annually in London.
I’m constantly on trains that break down!
You’re constantly annoying me with your singing.
We continually heard thunder throughout the night.
He was continually disruptive in class so the teacher sent him out.
Scientists say the polar ice caps are continuously changing.
My teacher tries to correct my English continuously!
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.
Harry eventually told his wife the truth about the broken vase.
After walking in the forest for hours, they eventually found the road.
If you’re ever in London, you should go to the British Museum.
We’ve only ever talked on the phone, never in person.
Sally’s attitude to school is poor and her homework is frequently late.
People frequently confuse Anna and Sarah as they look so alike.
It’s generally hot here in June, but this year it was freezing!
Generally, I prefer vegetarian food to meat dishes.
Tim hardly ever drinks alcohol.
It does rain in the desert, but hardly ever.
He’s on a short-term contract so he gets paid hourly.
The train goes into London once an hour.
My grandmother still attends church services, but rather infrequently.
Alcohol can be good for one’s health when consumed infrequently.
Wars in Europe have taken place intermittently throughout the last century.
She woke up intermittently during the night.
We’ll come over later, after we’ve been to the shops.
See you later, alligator! (In a while, crocodile!)
I pay my phone bill monthly.
I meet up with my school friends monthly.
It’s nearly always packed (busy) in this cafe.
She nearly always wears the same clothes.
I’ve never been to the United States.
She’s never tried Chinese food before.
See you next time.
They planned to come back next year.
Sarah and Chris watch Game of Thrones every night.
The local bar serves cocktails nightly.
I normally go to the gym on Mondays.
Normally, I walk the dog before work, but this morning it was raining.
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.
Hannah will occasionally call Mark. (emphasis)
I occasionally meet my colleagues for a drink after work.
How often do you go abroad for your holidays?
I often go for a jog in the morning.
Our company mailing lists are updated periodically.
Senior management periodically reschedule our meetings.
Our financial reports are published quarterly.
We make trips to HQ quarterly to touch base with our managers.
I’m currently at uni so I see my parents quite rarely.
My grandma rarely goes out these days.
We regularly argue over money.
They attend Church regularly.
We scarcely ever go to the theatre.
They scarcely ever call us anymore.
I seldom read books as I prefer watching TV.
The film version is seldom better than the original book.
We sometimes go swimming in the lake.
Sometimes they come to us, sometimes we go to their place.
Hannah sold the house soon after she split up with Sam.
See you soon!
We used to be close friends, but things were very different then.
We were both at school then.
I’m not working today.
She’s been travelling for a week, but she’s arriving home today.
Let’s talk tonight.
Are you going out tonight?
I usually have porridge for breakfast on weekdays.
Usually, I have porridge, but today I fancy something different.
The local football team plays its matches weekly.
Employee timesheets must be submitted weekly.
They update their product catalogue yearly.
We have to renew our insurance policy each year.
Ian got paid yesterday.
I went to the DIY shop yesterday to pick up some supplies.
I haven’t eaten my lunch yet.
I haven’t seen Anna yet.
Write the adverb of frequency in the correct place.
E.g. I _______ pay _______ my phone bill ___monthly___.
Put these sentences in order of frequency (A = most frequent, B = middle frequency, C = least frequent)
E.g. I am usually late = A
Are these adverbs of frequency definite or indefinite? Circle the correct answer.
E.g. every year = definite
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!
Often, Never, Usually, Normally, Hardly ever, Occasionally, Sometimes
Put these words in the correct order to create a sentence.
E.g. Fish / never / eat / I = I never eat fish.
Put the adverb of frequency in brackets into the correct place in the sentence.
E.g. I eat salad. (always) = I always eat salad.
10% Hardly ever