The commonest adverbials of frequency are:

 

always never normally occasionally often
rarely seldom sometimes usually  

We usually put adverbials of frequency in front of the main verb:

We often spend Christmas with friends.
I have never enjoyed myself so much.

but they usually come after the verb be:

He was always tired in the evening.
We are never late for work.

We use the adverbial a lot to mean often or frequently. It comes at the end of the clause:

We go to the cinema a lot.

but before another time adverbial:

We go to the cinema a lot at the weekend.

We use much with a negative to mean not often:

 We don’t go out much. (= We don’t go out often)

We use how often or ever to ask questions about frequency. How often comes at the beginning of the clause:

How often do you go to the cinema?
How often have you been here?

ever comes before the main verb:

Do you ever go to the cinema at the weekend?
Have you ever been there?

Longer frequency phrases, like every year or three times a day usually come at the end of the clause:

I have an English lesson twice a week.
She goes to see her mother every day.

Exercise

Comments

Hi! I have such a question:

If I have a definite adverb of frequency (every day, 3 times a week etc.) can I ask "How often do you..?"
If I have an indefinite (always, never) can I ask "Do you ever..?"

In this sentence "I often listens to the music in the morning" - do we ask a question to the word "often" (How often do you listen to the music?) or to "in the morning" that can serve in this sentence as a definite adverb of frequency?

Thank you.

Hi AncientEgyptian,

I think you are looking at this the wrong way. The person asking the question does not know what the answer is and does not tailor their question to fit any answer. They simply ask for information.

 

Both 'Do you ever...?' and 'How often do you...?' are possible questions. The first is more likely if the person asking the question thinks 'no' is a possible answer. The second tells us that the person asking the question is sure that the person does the thing, but does not know how frequently.

 

It is quite possible for the person answering to surprise the other person:

How often do you go swimming.

Actually, I never go swimming.

Do you ever go swimming?

Yes, actually I swim every day.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you!

Hi there,
In the above lesson, there is "but they usually come after the verb be: He was always tired in the evening.", What is meant by "verb be"? and how is that in this sentence?
Thanks

Hello SajadKhan,

The verb 'be' is the most common verb in English.

Base form: be

Infinitive: to be

Present: am/is/are

Past: was/were

Past participle: been

The sentence you referred to has the past form of the verb 'be' in it: was.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

As for an adverb representing frequency such as "often" or "usually", you can put it in any place , though as you have told in these pages basically it comes before verbs and after "be" verb. For example, can we say, I don't eat meat usually. Is it correct?

Hello Tomoaki,

Please note that this page describes adverbs of frequency. There are many kinds of adverbs, and the rules can be different for them. You might want to look at the Cambridge Dictionary's page on adverb position for more details.

It sounds as if you've understood the basic idea, though 'I don't usually eat meat' is more natural than 'I don't eat meat usually'. 'eat' is the main verb and 'don't' is the auxiliary verb.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Can we say: "Does it never rain in Summer?" And how should you answer it? Yes, it does (never rain) or rather No, it doesn't?

Hello kakcia,

It is possible to ask a question like that and the appropriate answers would be as follows:

No, never / No, it never rains

or

Actually, it does rain sometimes.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Pages