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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

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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

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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?

Comments

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

Thank you.

Hi.
I'd want to ask about one thing.
Is it possible to write 'Does he go to the cinema often?' or 'Does he often go to the cinema?' is the only right sentence?

Hi Hrey,

Both sentences are correct. Adverbs of frequency such as 'often' can be placed before the verb or at the end of the sentence, provided this does not separate it from the verb too much (very long sentences can be unclear if the adverb is too distant from the verb it describes).

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

yes

Hello,

The clause:
We go to the cinema a lot at the weekend.
It doesn't sound natural to me (I'm not a native speaker though ;)), and if I made such a sentence during a conversation I would say: We go to the cinema a lot at the weekends. Is the plural form correct in this example? Can I drop "the" from it then?

Hello Jarek_O,

The most commonly used phrases are 'at the weekend' and 'at weekends', which you can find in the Cambridge Dictionary entry for 'weekend'. Note that both forms are characteristic of British English, and 'at the weekend' can refer to a specific weekend, whereas 'at weekends' refers to weekends in general.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Which one is correct
I shall ever remember you.
Or
I shall remember you ever.
Please explain.

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