English grammar explanations (frequency adverbs).
Understanding frequency adverbs.
Frequency adverbs talk about how often something happens. The most common frequency adverbs are:
NEVER - RARELY - HARDLY EVER - OCCASIONALLY* - SOMETIMES* - OFTEN - USUALLY* - NEARLY ALWAYS - ALWAYS.
Frequency adverb position in a sentence.
It is important to remember the position of frequency adverbs in a sentence:
The frequency adverbs marked with an * above, can be used at the beginning of a sentence. The other adverbs mentioned above cannot usually be used in this front position with any verb:
Occasionally we take a walk in the park.
All of the adverbs above can go into a mid-position in a sentence. The mid-position varies depending on the type of verb. For most verbs, the frequency adverb goes before the verb:
I always take the train to university.
Frequency adverbs that can take mid-position are usually placed after the verb to be:
John and Mary are often at the shopping centre.
Frequency adverbs are also placed after the modal auxiliaries:
I could never finish the crossword.
Frequency adverbs like never and always must take a front position in the imperative form because there is no subject:
Never cross the road until I tell you.
Frequency adverbs are usually placed after the first auxiliary in compound tenses:
He had often been arrested
for drinking and driving.
But when one of the parts of the compound verb is a modal auxiliary, the position can vary:
You must often have been fed up with studying English.
Frequency adverbs are not usually used in continuous tenses but there is an exception with always. This is most common with when we complain about someone's behaviour:
That dog is always peeing in our back garden!
The frequency adverb never becomes ever in negative sentences with not:
I never see John and Mary these days.
When there's a negative of the verb to be or a modal auxiliary, the frequency adverb in a following position will also follow not:
He isn't usually here before 8 o'clock.
Links to exercises on the frequency adverbs:
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