TOEIC | Grammar: Adverbs of Frequency Previous   Up   Next   

TOEIC Grammar Guide – Adverbs of Frequency


Adverbs are words that are used to help describe verbs. Adverbs can also be used to describe adjectives and other adverbs. Adverbs of frequency are ones that describe when or how often something is done. There are two types: adverbs of definite frequency and adverbs of indefinite frequency.

Learning Hint:

The position of an adverb in a sentence tells you whether it is an adverb of definite or indefinite frequency.

Adverbs of Definite Frequency

Adverbs of definite frequency occur at the beginning or the end of a sentence.

Common ones are hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. Other ones are once a month, every month, and every other month. In each one, month can be replaced with hour, day, week, or year. Any exact number of times that happen in a given time period are also adverbs of definite frequency: twice a week, twice a year, three times a month, four times a year, once every five years, and so on.


Every day, some employees go out for lunch.

Some employees go out for lunch every day.

Payroll must be done every two weeks.

The sales manager gets new e-mail hourly.

Adverbs of Indefinite Frequency

Adverbs of indefinite frequency include always, usually, never, often, very often, rarely, sometimes, seldom, once in a while, repeatedly, typically, hardly ever, and occasionally. Adverbs of indefinite frequency occur in the middle of the sentence. Where exactly it is placed depends on the type of verbs in the sentence. There are three possible places:

1. Between the subject and the main verb UNLESS the verb is a form of be: is, am, are, was, were.


She often takes her vacation in winter.

The employees always work until seven.

The manager usually arrives first at the staff meetings.

2. After the be verb form when it is the main verb.


She is often ill in winter.

The employees are always working until seven.

The manager is usually the first person to arrive.

3. Between the helping verb and the main verb. This is always true, even when the main verb is a verb form of be.


She has often gone on vacation in winter.

The employees can always work until seven.

The manager will usually arrive first at the staff meetings.

Incorrect:           The owners have been rarely unreasonable.

Correct:             The owners have rarely been unreasonable.

(Have is the helping verb, been is the be verb form)


Usage note:  Some indefinite frequency adverbs can be placed at the beginning or end of a main clause: usually, normally, often, frequently, sometimes, once in a while, and occasionally.


Once in a while we like to for a long drive.

He accompanies her to the shopping mall occasionally.

TOEIC | Grammar: Adverbs of Frequency Previous   Up   Next   

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