Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody! My name is Alisha.
In this lesson, I’m going to talk about “adverbs of frequency”.
Let’s get started!
First, what is an “adverb of frequency”?
An “adverb of frequency” is a word or I’ve also included a few phrases in this lesson. It’s a word that answers the question, “How often?”, “How often?”
So, how often do we do something?
How often do I do something?
So, these words, these adverbs of frequency, give us the answer to that question.
We can place adverbs of frequency in different places in sentences.
We can place the adverb of frequency before the verb, that’s okay.
If the verb you’re using; however, is the verb “be” however, you need to place the adverb after that. So, for example, in a sentence like, “he is excited”, if I want to place an adverb of frequency in that, where the sentence uses the verb “be” in “is”, I will put it after “is” like “He is always excited.” So, that’s a key point to remember when you’re using the verb “be”.
In today’s lesson now, I’m going to focus a lot on this next point.
Some adverbs are commonly placed “at the beginning” or “at the end of a sentence”.
So I want to focus today on this point and on placing the adverb of frequency directly before the verb you want to modify.
So, I have a few example sentences here.
First, this one:
“I sometimes eat salad for lunch.”
This positioning, this word “sometimes”, this is my adverb of frequency. I placed it before the verb “eat”. So, in this way, I’m using this pattern here. The adverb of frequency is before the verb I’m modifying.
“I sometimes eat salad for lunch.”
In these examples here; however, I’ve changed the placement of the adverb.
Here, it’s at the beginning of the sentence.
“Sometimes, I eat salad for lunch.”
And here:
“I eat salad for lunch sometimes.”
You might hear that as well.
So, a pattern like this, where the adverb comes at the end of the sentence, you might hear more in everyday speech, like we want to add a little extra information right at the end, or we just think of something, so we add it at the end. You might hear that. It’s less common, I feel, to use something like this in written English, but you might hear it in spoken English too.
Also, please keep in mind that when you’re using these adverbs, like at the beginning or at the end of a sentence, they can change the meaning or they can modify the meaning of the whole sentence. So, this is kind of unique to adverbs, what are called “sentence-modifying adverbs”. I’m not going to talk a lot about that in this lesson, but please keep in mind that sometimes, changing the position of your adverb changes the way that adverb affects the sentence. For today’s lesson, we’re going to keep it very simple though, and just look at the differences in these words.
So, now that we know, we can use these adverbs in different positions, I want to talk about the variety of adverbs. So for this lesson, I prepared a scale from 0 to 100. And this scale shows us frequency, frequency, how often we do something. So, I’ve also marked on this scale some words or some phrases rather, that we use at the beginning or at the end of sentences, I’ve marked those with this red star, and I’ve included a couple of extra phrases here that we use similarly to these adverbs of frequency, but they’re actually like a group of words. So, let’s take a look. The first word, let’s start at this part of the scale.
The first word here is “never”, never.
So, “never” is at the zero point. This is for something that you never do. You do it zero times.
For example, in this sentence:
“I never eat salad for lunch.”
That means it’s something that just does not happen in your life. So we use never for something that does not happen, zero.
Next on the scale are these three words.
So, the first one, this is tough for many people to pronounce, “rarely”, rarely.
“I rarely eat salad for lunch.”
Or, in my other example:
“He is rarely excited,” if I want to use the verb “be” in an example like this.
“Rarely” is close to zero, but is not zero. So, it’s getting there. It’s a little bit close to zero. So, this is something that we use for an activity or a situation that is not, like common. It’s not something that we do often. We do that rarely.
These words mean the same thing, “seldom”, seldom.
“Seldom” and “rarely” have the same meaning.
“Hardly ever”, hardly ever. Please be careful, this is not “hardly never”. “Hardly never” is incorrect, “Hardly ever.”
“I hardly ever eat salad for lunch.”
“He is hardly ever excited.”
All of these words mean “very nearly never”, but not quite never, so maybe this is like 8 or 10 on our scale here.
So, “rarely”, “seldom”, “hardly ever”.
In terms of differences, “seldom” is probably the least commonly used from these three words. I feel “hardly ever” is fairly common. “Rarely” sounds a little bit more formal to me though, but none of these are incorrect or strange. It’s just “seldom” is probably the least commonly used.
If I were to recommend, I would suggest using “hardly ever” in everyday speech and perhaps, “rarely” if you want to sound a little bit more formal. Okay.
So let’s move on to the next part.
The next part, this is one of the “sentence modifying”, in this case, phrases, I mentioned. This phrase is “every once in a while”, every once in a while. A native speaker or rather at native speed, we would say, “every once in a while,” every once in a while.
So, this is a phrase that we usually position at the beginning of a sentence. We do not use this phrase, please note, we do not use this phrase in this position. “I, every once in a while, eat salad for lunch.” We do not use it in that way. Please, use this phrase at the beginning of a sentence.
“Every once in a while, I eat salad for lunch.”
You might hear it at the end of a sentence.
“I eat salad for lunch, every once in a while.”
You might hear it there too, but please don’t use this directly before the verb, okay. So, “every once in a while” shows us it’s kind of not regular, so “every once in a while”, it sounds like when I have the feeling to do something or there’s not really a schedule for it, just one time, in a while, it looks like in a kind of vague period. We don’t know exactly a period, but when the speaker feels like it.
“Yeah, I eat salad for lunch every once in a while.”
That’s the kind of feeling. It’s not really a regular thing, so I’ve put it a little bit lower than “sometimes” on this scale. Okay.
So, let’s continue to “sometimes”.
So, “sometimes” was in my example here, all of my example sentences. And “sometimes”, I’ve marked with this red star, “sometimes” can be used at the beginning or at the end of a sentence and it’s pretty much on the 50, like the 50 mark here on this scale. So, it’s like the halfway point. It’s not never and it’s not at a 100, it’s very like halfway here. So, we want to describe something that happens with some regularity. There’s perhaps some schedule to it or something that we do a little bit more often, but it’s not so common for us. That is “sometimes”, sometimes.
I’ve also put below this, another phrase and this is another one that we use in this position, at the beginning of a sentence or the end of a sentence. The phrase is “every so often”, every so often. So, yes, “often” is in this here and I’ll talk about “often” in just a moment, but this does not mean “often”. This phrase means “sometimes”, sometimes or perhaps even a little bit less. So, just like “every once in a while”, we use this for something that doesn’t really have like a set schedule. It has the feeling of “sometimes”. There’s not really a common like, it’s not really a common activity, so we would use it here.
“So every so often, I eat a salad for lunch.”
“I eat a salad for lunch, every so often.”
That’s the feel of this expression. So these two phrases, please remember, we use them at the beginning and at the end of sentences. Okay.
With that in mind, let’s continue to this part of this scale.
The next word here is “occasionally”, occasionally.
So, this word sounds a little bit more formal. It has a similar regularity. It’s about the same as “sometimes”, but this word sounds a little bit more formal. If I want to sound more formal, instead of choosing sometimes, I might choose “occasionally,” occasionally. This is another one that can be positioned at the beginning or at the end of a sentence.
“Occasionally, I eat salad for lunch.”
“I eat salad for lunch, occasionally.”
And again, if I want to use it in a “to be” verb sentence, as in “he is excited”, I would say, “He is occasionally excited.” So, “occasionally” sounds a little bit more formal than “sometimes”, occasionally.
Okay, let’s move on then to “often”, often.
So here on this scale, we’re at maybe 75 or so. So, this is for something that happens “often”. We do it with some regularity, so maybe it’s every month, for example, or every week, something you do often, so this is maybe something that’s normal for you to do, “often”.
So, this one is very common in everyday speech, and when we pronounce this, at least in American English, we don’t pronounce this “T”. We don’t say “of/t/en”, “of/t/en”. We usually pronounce it as “of-en”, “of-en”, so please keep that in mind when you use this.
“I often eat salad for lunch.”
“Often, I eat salad for lunch.”
“I eat salad for lunch, often.”
With this one, I would suggest using this in this position. The ones on this scale, the words on this scale, I have not marked with a red star, I suggest you use this in this position, directly before the verb you want to modify. These words that do not have a red star, they sound most natural in this position. You might hear, yes, you might hear people in speech using them in these positions, but it’s going to sound a little bit more natural or, actually, a lot more natural to use it here. “I often eat salad for lunch” sounds much more natural here. Okay.
Onward then to “usually”, usually.
I said “usually” just now. You might hear some people “usually” as well, but in most cases, we say, “usually, usually”. And, interestingly, this word has become, kind of, or rather, this word has given birth to a new expression which is /ush/ or “the ush” which is short for “the usual (something)”. And, actually, the dictionary, as of the time of making this video is having trouble trying to find the best way to spell that word, “the ush”. So, “the ush” is referring to something that a customer always gets when they come to the store.
So, if I’m a staff at a restaurant or a coffee shop and I know this customer is a regular customer, they come every day or every week, I know the customer’s usual order, what they usually get, I can say, “Would you like the usual?” and the customer might say, “Yes, I’d like the ush” the ush. It’s like a cool kind of rough way of saying “My usual order, please.” That comes from the word “usually”, usually.
So, “usually” is higher up on the scale and because I’ve marked this with this red star here, we use it usually at the beginning or at the end of a sentence. I would say, in most cases, we tend to use it more at this position, at the beginning of a sentence.
“Usually, I eat salad for lunch.”
It sounds quite nice.
You can use it here too.
“I usually eat salad for lunch.”
Sounds nice.
So, “usually”, it’s a very regular activity and that’s why we use this word to talk about a regular customer and their regular order with “the ush”. In that case, it’s a noun. So, “usually”, usually.
The next word here is “frequently”.
“Frequently” shares a meaning with “usually”, but “frequently” sounds more formal and we don’t use it so much in everyday speech. You might hear this in a business meeting, perhaps, or in more academic situations, so something that needs a higher level of formality. So, “frequently, it sounds a little too formal for this topic, actually.
“Frequently, I eat salad for lunch.”
“I eat salad for lunch, frequently.”
It sounds a little bit too formal, so we would use this in more formal context, more formal situations. Okay.
Finally, the final word here is “always”, always.
So, we use “always”, we tend to use “always” in this position. So, I would not recommend using always here or here. So, “Always, I eat salad for lunch” doesn’t sound so natural, nor does “I eat salad for lunch, always.”
Please use this one in this position.
“I always eat salad for lunch.”
And, in my “to be” verb example:
“He is always excited.”
So, “always”, always, please use that in this position. It sounds great.
Okay. I want to finish this lesson then, by looking at one more group which I have down here. I’ve marked this with this red star again and, red asterisk, rather. These are kind of different from the ones I’ve introduced here. These are what I’ve called “time period-based adverbs”. These words are “hourly” which means every hour; “daily”, every day; “weekly”, every week; and “monthly”, every month; “yearly” and “annually”, so every year. “Yearly” and “annually” mean the same thing. “Annually” is a little bit more formal.
We use these, typically, at the end of a sentence. So we don’t usually put this at the beginning or before the verb we’re modifying. These very commonly come at the end of a sentence.
So, some examples of how we use these would be:
“I check my phone hourly.”
So, “hourly” means every hour, every hour. “Every hour, I check my phone” is another way to say that. It’s very common to put this at the end of the sentence. This is showing us this whole activity happens every hour. It’s modifying the whole sentence.
Another example is:
“I check my budget weekly.”
So again, “weekly” means every week, every week, and so, every week, I check my budget, but we put this at the end of the sentence, typically.
“I check my budget weekly.”
So, these “hourly, daily, weekly”, these show us a time period or like, they give us that “how often” answer, but with time too.
Please note, like smaller than “hour”, there’s nothing smaller. We don’t use “minutely”. You might hear “by the minute” for some things, but we don’t use “minutely” or “secondly”. We don’t use those, so please begin with “hourly, daily, weekly”.
Okay. So, this is an introduction to a lot of different adverbs that you can use to describe frequency. So, I hope that this was helpful for you and please try to use these to make some example sentences in the comment section of this video.
Thanks very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again, soon. Bye-bye!


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Thursday at 08:28 AM
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Hello Narine Gevorgyan,

You are very welcome. 😇

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Narine Gevorgyan
Wednesday at 02:38 PM
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I usually are very busy ,so I seldom watch your video .Anyway, I always like and love your explanation .Thank you so much!

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Monday at 02:36 PM
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Hi there Paulo, Ana and Matias!

Thanks for sharing your fav things!

@Matias - You would have to say "every once in a while" for the phrase to make sense. 😄

Please let us know how we can help you on your journey.



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Friday at 08:03 AM
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Hello Thu Naung Kyaw,

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Thu Naung Kyaw
Thursday at 05:42 PM
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Great lesson. The teacher can explain it very perfectly. It was a worthwhile lesson for me to get a better idea of the adverbs of frequency. Thanks a lot.

Paulo Henrique
Thursday at 02:29 PM
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I sometimes eat pizza on friday and I rarely eat pizza on monday

Thursday at 12:27 PM
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I never eat sushi.

I rarely go to the disco.

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Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Please let us know if you have any questions.

Matias Madaf
Tuesday at 06:53 PM
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Hi everyone!

Could I say "every since in a while" instead of "every once in a while"?