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How often

Level: beginner

The commonest adverbials of frequency are:

always never normally
rarely seldom sometimes
occasionally often usually

We usually put these one-word 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.

Sometimes these adverbials have an intensifier or mitigator:

He is very rarely late for work.
We nearly always spend Christmas with friends.

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.

We can also use a lot with another time adverbial:

We go to the cinema a lot at the weekend.

We use much/a lot with a negative to mean not often:

We don't go out much/a lot. (= We don't go out often.)

How often 1


We often use phrases with every as adverbials of frequency. We use every with words like minute, hour, day, week, month and year:

There is a big celebration every year.
We have a meeting twice every week.
I usually go home once every two months.
There is a leap year every four years.

We also use every with days of the week and months of the year:

We have a meeting every Monday.
We go on holiday every August.

We use the phrase every other:

We will email you every other day. (= on alternate days)
We go to see my mother every other week. (= in alternate weeks)

We use phrases with once, twice, three times, four times, etc. and a period of time:

I go swimming twice a week.
I see my old school friends four or five times a year.

How often 2


We use how often and 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?


Dear sir,
Thank you for your time writing this guide i have a question please about this example, which one is correct?

How often the doctor recommended you to take the medicine per day?
How many times the doctor recommended you to take the medicine per day?

Hi Ali Aboud,

Both How often and How many times are correct! The meaning is the same. 

But a correction is needed to the past simple and the structure after recommend. It should be: How often did the doctor recommend that you take the medicine per day?

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Dear sir,
Which one of the following is correct?
1. Use sunglasses in abundance.
2 Use sunglasses too often.
Please note that I am talking about 'frequency', not quantity.
My second question is, does the sentence 1 even make sense?

Hello xeesid,

The first sentence sounds very odd. I can't imagine anyone using in abundance in this way. The normal phrase is have something in abundance.

The second sentence makes sense but I'm not sure in what context you would ever want to say this. Too means an excess of use, which doesn't really go with the use of sunglasses.


I think it would be best if you told us what you want to say first and then we'll try to help.



The LearnEnglish Team

Dear sir thank you for your reply.
It is about protecting eyes from the hazards of the sun heat. It is about a man who too often goes and stays in the sun to work. Now, is this fine to use 'too often'? That is, it is about the frequency of action.

Hello again xeesid,

Thank you for the clarification.

We use too often when something should be done less. Too means more than is good, so we use it when something should be done less.

It's possible to say a person works in the sun too often (working in the sun can be dangerous and should be moderated), but not to say that sunglasses can be work too often unless they are in some way bad for you. From the context it sounds like you want to say that the person should wear sunglasses more often - i.e. that they don't wear them enough.



The LearnEnglish Team

It's really an educative tip.

Which variant is correct: "I rather often visit him" or " I visit him rather often"?

Hello annruzhova,

The second version is the more natural option. The postition of the modified adverb is flexible, but I think the phrase 'rather often' usually comes after the verb.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for the answer.
If the adverb is modified by "really" or "quite", is their position also flexible?