Adverb of frequency

From Teflpedia

An adverb of frequency (/ædvɜ:b əv fri:kwənsi/) is a type of adverb that indicates frequency, basically gives information about when or how often something happens. They can be divided into two types, with slight differences in use as regards position.

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 studnets 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

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