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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?


I know about the position of the adverbials of frequency within affirmative sentences (1) subj.-verb to be-adverbial, 2) subj.-adverbial-other verbs, 3) subj.-auxiliary/modal-adverbial), but what about the position of the adverbials of frequency in negative sentences and in questions? Could you kindly explain the relevant rules? Thanks in advance.

Hello Aglala,

The Cambridge Dictionary has a very good general explanation of adverb position in general, and I would refer you to it. Be sure to look for adverbials of frequency in the chart.

After you've consulted that, if you have any further questions, please feel free to ask us. If you do this, please make your question as specific as possible and if possible include an example. This will help us give you a better answer.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Is it grammatically correct to ask "Do you ever go to the cinema at the weekend?"
and answer "Yes, I usually go to the cinema at the weekend." ?

Hello hm,

Yes, those are perfectly fine, grammatically speaking. However, I think 'often' rather than 'usually' would be used. 'Usually' is generally used in a context where we are talking about something being different from the norm ('I usually go to the cinema at the weekend, but this week I'm going on Thursday') rather than just to mean 'frequently'.



The LearnEnglish Team

Dear sir,
Please see this sentence:
How much you act upon this thing?
Is this a correct? I think 'how much' is used for "quantity", not for frequency. Like we say:
How much love do you have for this? [asking about the quantity]
For the sentence in my question the correct structure should be:
How often do you act upon this thing? [asking about the frequency]
Sir, am I right?

Hello xeesid,

You are correct in thinking that the sentence you first ask about is not correct. The correct structure is the one that you write in the last sentence. Well done!

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

I would have a clarification: is it possible the use of the Wh-question WHEN if the answer includes an adverb of frequency or an expression of time?

Hello Aorestano,

Adverbs of frequency are probably more common in answers to a question beginning with 'how often', but they are certainly possible in response to a question with 'when'. For example, 'When do you go to the supermarket? -- I usually go on Tuesdays.'

Hope this helps.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

I have a question.
Could you tell me which is grammatically correct to describe what happened in the past?
I would like to know if it is possible to use adverbials of frequency like “often” in past tense.

1) I often saw the man who looks like the actor when I went to the office.
2) I used to see the man who looks like the actor when I went to the office.

Thank you for your help.

Hello Nanatomo,

Both of your sentences are correct and express the same general idea. The meanings of 'often saw' and 'used to see' are both fairly loose but in most situations would mean pretty much the same thing.

Yes, you can use adverbs of frequency to speak about the past, as well as the present and even the future.

Well done!

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team