As you watch the video, look at the examples of adverbs of frequency. They are in red in the subtitles. Then read the conversation below to learn more. Finally, do the grammar exercises to check you understand, and can use, adverbs of frequency correctly.
Oliver: No, no! I can never answer the yellow questions – they're about history or politics or something, I think. I'll have an orange question, please, Mr Anderson! They're about sports, right?
Alfie: They're not always about sports – they're sometimes about food and drink.
Oliver: Not a problem, Mr Anderson. Let's hear it.
Alfie: Hmmmm. Oh no! Oh this is so easy!! Pff. How often ...
Oliver: Hang on. Back in a second.
Alfie: Who was it?
Oliver: Oh, just Daisy and Amy. Daisy's lost her keys again. She loses them about twice a week! Honestly. I found them in the fridge once! Dizzy Daisy!
Alfie: Who's Amy? The one that moved here a few months ago?
Alfie: What's she like?
Oliver: I don't know. Seventeen. Straight black hair. Um. Nice. Quite serious, I suppose. Um. Very intelligent – she probably usually wins at this game ... though playing with us, that wouldn't be difficult. What was the question?
Alfie: Aah, oh yes. How often is the ...
Daisy: Hi, guys! Amy, this is Alfie – he's Oliver's best friend. They always hang out together.
Oliver: Not always! Sometimes I'm alone, you know!
Daisy: OK! They almost always hang out together.
Oliver: That's better! Er, Alfie ... ! Say hello!
Alfie: Sorry, yes. Hi. Um. Have a seat, have a seat. We're playing ... um ... we're ... you know ... it's much more fun with four players, would you like to ...
Daisy: Saved by the bell, hey? Hi, Mum. Oliver, hey, it's Mum. How's Norway? Have you seen them? Oliver!
Oliver: Amy, do you want to play for me? He always gets the green questions wrong. Ask him green questions.
Daisy: Mum's seen the Northern Lights!
Oliver: Oh, wow! What are they like?
Sophie: Well, they're green mostly. Apparently, they're usually green – but they're ... oh, they're so difficult to describe – they're magical! Living where we live, you either never see them or you see them once in a lifetime, if you travel. Oh, we'll have to come to Hammerfest as a family one year. The problem is you normally see them best in September or March, like now, and you two are always studying at those times ...
Amy: Yeah, they're normally green because of the oxygen, but sometimes you can see red too – that's from nitrogen. Aurora Borealis. The Northern Lights. Aurora was a Greek goddess and ... sorry. Look at the sky out there! It's beautiful! It's really, really clear tonight.
Alfie: It is, isn't it? It's hardly ever that clear here – there's normally too much light pollution. And of course, it's often cloudy.
Amy: I love looking at the stars. Astronomy is fascinating, and the stars and constellations often have wonderful names, like Andromeda ... that's a constellation.
Alfie: You learn something new every day. When you're looking at the stars, can you recognise them?
Amy: Not always. But quite often, yes.
Alfie: Right! Coats on! Astronomy class in the garden in three minutes! After you, Miss Hao. Daisy and Oliver are observing, bemused ...
Amy: Thank you, Alfred.
Alfie: Um, nobody ever calls me Alfred. I don't like it very much ...
Amy: No? Alfred was a king. It's a king's name. It suits you. Oh yes! Millions of stars ...
We use adverbs of frequency – like sometimes or usually – to say how often we do things, or how often things happen.
I never have any problems with adverbs of frequency.
OK, let's see what you know. We use adverbs of frequency in this order, according to their meaning.
Are there any missing?
I think that’s most of them. You could include frequently, with usually. We use not very often too.
Very good, you’re right. These are the most common adverbs, although there are more.
They always hang out together.
The Northern Lights are usually green.
You normally see them best in September or March.
It’s often cloudy.
What do you notice about the position of the adverbs?
They are usually before the main verb, or between the auxiliary and the main verb. But they come after the verb to be.
Excellent! Can they also be at the beginning or the end of the sentence?
Yes, I think so. 'Sometimes I'm alone.' That sounds OK.
Yes, we can use some adverbs of frequency at the beginning or end of a sentence for emphasis.
Occasionally I meet her for a coffee.
We can use usually, often, sometimes and occasionally at the beginning of a sentence, and sometimes and often at the end. We use adverb expressions like a lot or not + (very) much after the main verb too.
She travels a lot.
He doesn’t study very much.
Be careful with never. It is already negative, so we can’t use it with not.
I never go to the supermarket with my mother.
I’ve just remembered some more expressions! What about once a week, twice a year, etc.?
Oh yes, I’d forgotten about those.
Take the medicine three times a day.
We usually go swimming twice a month.
You see them once in a lifetime, if you travel.
You see, I’m not always annoying.
OK, sorry. I’m not always right either. Usually, but not always!
Worksheets and downloads
What are your hobbies? How often do you do them?