Adverbs of frequency

As its name implies, the adverbs of frequency (frequency adverbs), also called adverbs frequency indicate how often certain action happens.

They are generally used to answer questions that start with How often …? (How often …?) Or How many times …? (How many times…?).

Look at the table below and learn the main adverbs of frequency in English , read the translation to understand what they mean and check out examples.

List of frequency adverbs

English Portuguese Example
Daily Daily We clean the house daily. (We clean the house daily.)
Weekly Weekly I wash my dog ​​weekly. (I bathe my dog ​​weekly.)
Monthly Monthly We pay our bills monthly. (We pay our bills monthly.)
Yearly Annually I visit my family yearly. (I visit my family annually.)
Always Ever She is always late. (She is always late.)
Frequently Often She is frequently at the shopping mall. (She is at the mall often.)
Generally Usually; usually We generally go to the gym in the morning. (We usually go to the gym in the morning.)
Hardly ever Almost never I hardly ever see my neighbors. (I hardly ever see my neighbors.)
Never Never He is never there when we need him . (He’s never around when we need him.)
Often Often I often go to the beach by myself. (I go to the beach alone often.)
Occasionally Occasionally They live in another city but they come home occasionally . (They live in another city, but occasionally come to the house.)
Rarely Rarely He rarely mentions his family. (He rarely talks about the family.)
Seldom Rarely Public services seldom work well in that country. (Public services rarely work well in that country.)
sometimes Sometimes Sometimes I prefer staying home on Friday nights . (Sometimes I prefer to stay home on Friday nights.)
Usually Usually; usually We usually play tennis on Sundays . (We usually play tennis on Sundays.)

Check the image below and see the difference between the frequency levels indicated by the adverbs below.

Percentage comparison of frequency

See also: English grammar

Frequency expressions

When we want to give very specific information about the frequency with which something occurs, in addition to the adverbs daily (daily), weekly (weekly), monthly (monthly) and yearly (annually), we also use expressions of frequency .

Examples :

  • every day / month / week / year (every day / month / week / year)
  • once a day / month / week / year (once a day / month / week / year)
  • twice a day / month / week / year (twice a day / month / week / year)
  • four times day / month / week / year (four times a day / month / week / year)
  • every other day / month / week / year (day / month / week / year yes, day / month / week / year no)

Here’s how to apply them in sentences:

  • They visit their grandparents every other week. (They visit their grandparents every other week)
  • We travel twice a year. (We travel twice a year.)
  • I call my parents once a week. (I call my parents once a week.)

See also: English idioms

Adverb position in phrase

The placement of frequency adverbs in a sentence is conditioned on the type of verb it contains.

See below how to use the adverbs of frequency correctly.

Phrase with verb to be

When the main verb of the sentence is the verb to be , the adverb of frequency should be used after the verb.

Examples :

  • She is generally at the gym at this time. (She is usually at the gym by this time.)
  • We are always tired. (We are always tired.)
  • I am never late. (I’m never late.)

See also: Verbo To Be

Phrase with a verb other than to be

When the main verb of the sentence is any verb other than the verb to be , the adverb is placed after the verb.

Examples :

  • He rarely visits his cousins. (He rarely visits his cousins.)
  • She frequently asks about you. (He asks about you often.)
  • They hardly ever study for the exams. (They hardly ever study for exams.)

Phrase with compound verb

In sentences with compound verbs, the adverb should be used immediately after the first element of the verb form.

Examples :

  • He has never been to Italy. (He was never in Italy.)
  • She has often been compared to her mother. (She is often compared to her mother.)
  • They have occasionally visited me on weekends. (They visited me occasionally on weekends.)

Phrase with modal verb

When the phrase has a modal verb, the adverb of frequency should be placed after it.

Examples :

  • She can never remember their anniversary. (She can never remember their wedding anniversary.)
  • You should always let your parents know where you are. (You should always inform your parents of where you are.)
  • He may seldom find her at home at this time. (He should rarely find her at home at this hour.)

See also: Modal Verbs

Phrase with auxiliary verb

If in a sentence the auxiliary verb is used in an answer or in isolation in a part of the sentence, the adverb of frequency must be placed before the auxiliary verb.

Examples :

  • ” Sorry I didn’t arrive on time.” ” You never do .” (“I’m sorry I didn’t make it on time.” “You never do.”)
  • I know I should not eat chocolate, but I always do. (I know I shouldn’t eat chocolate, but I always eat.)

See also: Reflexive Pronouns


In phrases that express negative ideas, it is possible to use the adverb of frequency at the beginning of the sentence.

Examples :

  • Rarely have I seen such a dedicated father. (I have rarely seen such a dedicated father.)
  • Never is she happy. (She is never happy.)

Note that, in these cases, the sentence organization follows the structure of a question, that is, first the verb and then the subject.

In the first sentence, for example, we have have I seen instead of I have seen . In the second example, we have is she happy instead of she is happy.


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