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Frequency Adverbs/Expressions of Frequency

Frequency adverbs are used for answering the questions “How often?” or “How many times?”


On a vertical scale, the upper limit of the concept of frequency is expressed by ‘always’, meaning ‘on every occasion’.

The lower extreme is occupied by ‘never’, meaning ‘on no occasion’.

Between these two extremes, we can have a variety of frequencies, ranging from most frequent to least frequent, as follows:
- Nearly always, almost always
- Usually, normally, generally, regularly (= ‘on most occasions’)
- Often, frequently (= ‘on many occasions’)
- Sometimes (= ‘on some occasions’)
- Occasionally, now and then (= ‘on a few occasions’)
- Seldom, rarely (= ‘on few occasions’)
- Hardly ever, scarcely ever (= ‘almost never’)


These are the frequency adverbs mostly used in speech.

However, sometimes we need to be more precise about the measurement of frequency, and this is when we use the definite frequency adverbs.

How can we use these - be it in speaking, or in writing?

By using 'a'/'per' and the unit of time we wish to express:

- Once a day, three times an hour, several times a week
- Once per day, three times per hour, etc., to sound more formal.

"They ate only once a day."
"He went to see his children five times a week."

By using 'every' followed by the unit of time:

- Every day (= ‘once a day’), every morning, every two weeks, etc.

"We had English every day, when I was in high school."
"The CEO visits the factory every week, to inspect progress."

The suffix '-ly' after the unit of time we wish to express:

- Daily (= ‘once a day’), hourly, weekly, monthly, yearly, etc. These words can also be used as adjectives:

I read ‘The Times’ daily. [adv.]
It is a daily newspaper. [adj.]

She went to the seaside monthly [adv.], for the fresh air.
A monthly magazine [adj.]

He visits me weekly/every week/once a week. [adv.]
He pays me a weekly visit. [adj.]

By using quantifiers, like ‘some’, ‘any’, ‘most’, ‘many’:

Some days he goes to the park during his lunch break.
You can call me any time you like.
We go dancing most weekends.
She went to Hawaii many times, as a stewardess.

Now do an exercise using what you've learned so far:

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.
always
occasionally
rarely
never
sometimes
usually
often
never
seldomly
normally
occasionally
never
ever
never
sometimes
often
ever
never
occasionally
always

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