Adverbs of frequency tell us how often something happens.
Have a look at the list of the most common adverbs below:
The position of adverbs of frequency is often very tricky. However, there are several good rules that you can follow.
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 always in time for meals.
Before the simple tenses of all other verbs:
They sometimes stay up all night.
Used to and have to prefer the adverb in front of them:
Frequency adverbs are often placed before auxiliaries when these are used alone, in addition to remarks or in answers to questions:
and when in a compound verb, the auxiliary is stressed:
Similarly when do is added for emphasis:
I always do 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 always check 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:
Always wash your hands before the meal!
Often, if put at the end, normally requires very or 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 ever did they manage to meet unobserved. (Inversion of word order for emphasis)
ever is chiefly used with an affirmative verb, never with a negative one. It normally means at no time:
never + affirmative can sometimes replace an ordinary negative:
I waited but he never turned up. (Meaning: He didn't turn up.)
never + interrogative can be used to express the speaker's surprise at the non-performance of an action:
Has he never been to Japan? I'm surprised, because his wife is Japanese.