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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?


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?

Hi annruzhova,

That depends on the adverb. With many of these adverbs (e.g. 'never' or 'always'), 'really' and 'quite' are not used. But you could say 'really frequently', 'quite a lot', or 'quite often' for example. As far as I can think at the moment, using the intensifier would not change the position of the adverb. These tend to be used after the verb and even at the end of the sentence, though there could be some exceptions to this.

If you have a specific example you'd like to ask about, please feel free to ask.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

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.



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?

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.



The LearnEnglish Team