11/8/08

Position of Adverbs of Frequency

Position of Adverbs of Frequency

The postion 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.

a) always, continually, frequently, occasionally, often, once, twice, periodically, repeatedly, sometimes, usually etc.

b) ever, hardly ever, never, rarely, scarcely ever, seldom

Adverbs in both the above groups are normally placed:

1. After the simple tenses of to be:

He is always in time for meals.
2. Before the simple tenses of all other verbs:

They sometimes stay up all night.
With compound tenses, they are placed after the first auxiliary, or, with interrogative verbs, after auxiliary + subject:

He can never understand.
You have often been told not to do that.
Have you ever ridden a camel?
Exceptions:

a) used to and have to prefer the adverb in front of them:


You hardly ever have to remind him; he always remembers.


b) Frequency adverbs are often placed before auxiliaries when these are used alone, in additions to remarks or in answers to questions:


"Can you park your car near the shops?" "Yes, I usually can.

I know I should take exercise, but I never do and when

In a compound verb, the auxiliary is stressed:


I never can remember. She hardly ever has met him.
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.

Exceptions
always is rarely found at the beginning of a sentence/clause except with imperatives.

often, if put at the end, normally requires very or quite: Often he walked. He walked quite often.

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)

hardly/scarcely ever, never, rarely and seldom are not used with negative verbs.

never, ever
never is chiefly used with an affirmative verb, never with a negative. It normally means "at no time":


He never saw her again. I've never eaten snails.
They never eat meat, (habit)
I've never had a better flight.
(For never + comparative) never + affirmative can sometimes replace an ordinary negative:

I waited but he never turned up. (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.

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