Adverbs of frequency
We use adverbs of frequency to say how frequently we do an activity. Common adverbs of frequency are: never, sometimes, always, often, seldom, rarely, regularly, normally, often etc.
Subject0 = red; adverb = pink; verb = blue; auxiliary verb = brown
(1) The adverb of frequency goes after the subject and before the ordinary verb.
- He often goes to the supermarket on Wednesday.
- They usually clean our house.
- She constantly annoys me.
(2) The adverb of frequency always goes AFTER the verb ‘to be‘.
- She is seldom tired.
- He is never sick of class.
- They were occasionally coming to my house.
(3) When using other auxiliary verbs that are not ‘to be’, the adverb of frequency goes AFTER all other auxiliary and modal auxiliary verbs (have, do , can, could, must, might, need to, ought to, may, should, shall, will and would) and BEFORE the ordinary verb.
- He doesn’t often like to do the dishes.
- She may sometimes come to class when she feels like it.
- Harry should frequently work on his thesis.
- I would usually call my elders when I was younger.
- Sophie will seldom act normally at the football match.
- I need to regularly check my oil.
(4) These adverbs of frequency can be put at the beginning of the sentence to put more emphasis on the adverb itself: occasionally, often, frequently, sometimes, normally, usually.
- Often, we eat out on Mondays.
- Sometimes, I buy a chocolate cake to treat myself.
- Normally they are pretty nice to us.
(5) The following adverbs CANNOT be put at the beginning of the sentence: never, ever, rarely, always, seldom and hardly. Therefore, it is incorrect to use the following order:
- Always I go to school. ✖
- Seldom I buy chicken. ✖
- Rarely, we go to the cinema. ✖
(6) Lastly, In English, we can use ‘auxiliary inversion’ which puts maximum emphasis on the adverb by inserting the adverb at the beginning of the sentence, which then precedes an auxiliary followed by the subject. Notice in the following examples the order is ‘adverb + auxiliary + subject‘:
- Seldom, do I go to the centre of town, it’s too noisy for my liking.
- Never, have I seen such a good example.
- Rarely, must you leave early.
- Hardly, had we finished the cleaning when my mum arrived.
Auxiliary Inversion is considered quite formal, but it is indeed used frequently.