Frequency adverb

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An adverb of frequency (/ædvɜ:b əv fri:kwənsi/) is a type of time adverb that indicates frequency, basically gives information about how often something happens. They can be divided into two types; indefinite frequency adverbs and definite frequency adverbs.

Adverbs of indefinite frequency[edit]

Indefinite adverbs refer to how often something happens.[1]

  • always, ever, frequently, never, normally, occasionally, often, rarely, seldom, sometimes, usually,

They normally go in mid-position, i.e. either after auxiliary verbs and be or before other verbs. However, frequently, normally, occasionally, often, sometimes and usually can also go at the beginning or end of a clause.

Chinese students in particular have difficulty with the /ʒ/ sound in usually and tend to pronounce it as "urually".

Be careful with normally, which has two meanings:

  • "I normally walk to school" means "I usually walk to school."
  • "I walk to school normally" means "I walk to school in a normal manner", i.e. not with a silly walk.

Of course, applied pragmatics means these are unlikely to be confused in real life, but...

Adverbs of time and definite frequency[edit]

Definite adverbs refer to when or how often something happens.[1]

  • afterwards, already, before, daily, eventually, every year, finally, last, soon, still, today, weekly, yesterday.

They normally go in end position. However, already, eventually, finally, last and soon can also go in mid-position, whereas still and just can only go in mid-position.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Swan, Michael. Practical English Usage Oxford University Press 1980 ISBN 0-19-431197 x