Position of adverbs of frequency
The position of
Let's divide adverbs of frequency into two groups.
Group "a": always, continually, frequently, occasionally, often, once, twice, periodically, repeatedly, sometimes, usually.
Group "b": ever, hardly ever, never, rarely, scarcely ever, seldom.
Adverbs in both groups are normally placed:
- After the simple tenses of "to be":
- He is
alwaysin time for meals.
sometimesstay up all night.
- He can
- You have
oftenbeen told not to do that.
- Have you
everridden a camel?
"Used to" and "have to" prefer the adverb in front of them:
hardly everhave to remind him; he alwaysremembers.
Frequency adverbs are often placed before auxiliaries when these are used alone, in addition to remarks or in answers to questions:
- Person A: Can you park your car near the shops?
- Person B: Yes, I
- I know I should take exercise, but I
and when in a compound verb, the auxiliary is stressed:
nevercan remember. She hardly everhas met him.
Similarly when "do" is added for emphasis:
alwaysdo arrive in time!
But emphasis can also be given by stressing the frequency adverb and leaving it in its usual position after the auxiliary:
- You should
alwayscheck your oil before starting.
Adverbs in group (a) above can also be put at the beginning or end of a sentence or clause.
The adverb "always" is rarely found at the beginning of a sentence/clause except with imperatives.
Alwayswash your hands before the meal!
"often", if put at the end, normally requires "very" or "quite":
- He walked quite
Adverbs in group (b) above: "hardly ever", "never", "rarely" etc. (but not "ever" alone), can also be put at the beginning of a sentence, but inversion of the following main verb then becomes necessary:
Hardly/ Scarcely everdid they manage to meet unobserved. (Inversion of word order for emphasis)
"hardly" / "scarcely ever", "never", "rarely" and "seldom" are not used with negative verbs.
"never" is chiefly used with an affirmative verb, never with a negative one. It normally means "at no time"
neversaw her again.
nevereat meat, (habit)
neverhad a better flight.
- I waited but he
neverturned up. (Meaning: He didn't turn up)
- Has he
neverbeen to Japan? I'm surprised, because his wife is Japanese.