Frequency adverbs

  • I sometimes write posts about grammar.
  • I always write them in English.
  • I never joke about learning languages.

Today we are going to learn how to use frequency adverbs. To start with, let see some of them:

frequencyadverbs

In the chart above, you can find the most comonly used frequency adverbs ordered from the most to the least frequent. When three of them appear in a column, it means that they have a similar meaning.

Now it’s time to learn to use them in a sentence. First of all, you have to distiguish between frequency and other kinds of adverbs. The former (frequency) follow their special rule about word order in the sentence. In general, word order is very strict in English. The general rule is that the order in a sentence has to be:

Subject + Verb + Objects (Direct and Indirect) + Complements (time, place, manner ….).

Examples:

  • I went to the shop quickly.
  • Jane was sitting on the sofa lazily.

We can make some exceptions to this rule by placing the adverb at the very beginning, but the idea is that the less important complements do not interfere with the Subject+Verb+Object rule.

  • Luckily, we could find the keys.

Frequency adverbs work in a different way. They have to appear just before the main verb. If the main verb is the verb TO BE, they have to be placed after it.

  • Sue never reads the newspaper.
  • We sometimes play computer games.
  • Children hardly ever listen to their parents.
  • Jack does not always come to class.
  • Do they often work on Saturdays?
  • I’m always very happy at Christmas.
  • She isn’t usually here in the mornings.

Again, there might be exceptions to this rule and. Sometimes, adverbs might be placed at the beginning of a sentence, followed by a comma.

  • Sometimes, I feel like having a break from work an travelling all over the world.

There are other adverbs that follow the same rule that frequency adverbs. Some of these are already, also, ever, just…..But we will deal with them in another post!

Finally, there’s only one thing left to say about frequency adverbs. Have a look at the chart at the beginning of the post again, please. Did you notice that some adverbs are positive, while others are negative?

This is because those called “negative” make the sentence negative. In other words, if we use use “hardly ever, seldom, rarely or never”, the sentence becomes negative, which means that we cannot use a negative adverb.

  • Mary never uses the phone when she is having lunch.
  • Mary doesn’t never use the phone when she is having lunch.

I hope you always use frequency adverbs correctly from now on!

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