Adverbs and Adverbs of Frequency


An adverb can modify a verb, adjective, or another adverb.  The ones we will study answer one of these questions about the verb in the sentence:

When did they leave?  They left last week.

How did they travel from here to Tallahassee?  They traveled by car.
How does he drive?   He drives safely sometimes.  Sometimes he drives fast.

Formation of Adverbs

1. Most adverbs are formed by adding -ly to the adjective.

2. Adjectives that end in consonant + y change the "y" to "i" and add -ly for the adverb form.

3. Adjectives that end in -ic add -ally for the adverb form.


Irregular Adverbs

1. These irregular adverbs have the same form as adjectives and adverbs.

adjective  adverb  adjective  adverb
fast  fast  early  early 
hard  hard  late  late 


2. The adjective form for "good" is "well", but sometimes "well" can be used as an adjective that means "healthy."

Example: John had the flu last week, but today he is well (healthy). 


3. The word "not" and words that tell time and place are also adverbs.


Exercise 1

Instructions:  Write the correct ADVERB form of these adjectives. 

  1. enthusiastic

  2. good 

  3. late

  4. early

  5. beautiful

  6. hard

  7. slow

  8. specific

  9. bad

  10. dangerous

  11. crazy

  12. angry


Placement of adverbs

Adverbs in Negative Sentences and Questions

In a question, adverbs cannot go between the auxiliary verb and the subject. In a negative sentence adverbs cannot
go between the auxiliary and "not".



Did you give it to him secretly?
No, I did not give it to him secretly.



  • Did you give secretly it to him?
  • No, I did secretly not give it to him.


In a negative sentences and in questions, adverbs are usually NOT at the beginning of the sentence.


  • Does she speak quickly?
  • No, she doesn't speak quickly.



  • Quickly does she speak?
  • No, quickly she does not speak.


Exercise 2:
Instructions:  Rewrite the sentences using the adverb in parentheses.

1. She sang the song. (quietly)

2. Does she speak German? (very well)

3. They finished that project. (quickly)

4. Will you answer this question? (carefully)

5. He sent her a box of chocolates. (secretly)

6. They drew the plans for their new home. (enthusiastically)

7. She doesn't speak English. (badly)


Exercise 3:
Instructions:  Circle
the adverbs. 

1.  Sometimes I like to study with music on, but today I cannot.  I need to concentrate carefully because I have a midterm exam in English on Friday.

2. Leave quickly.  The the tornado is coming this way and we need to find shelter immediately.

3. He teaches very well, but he speaks very loudly in the classroom.  I usually come out of class with a headache.  I think I will buy some earplugs today, and I will always take them to his class.

4. The neighbors are having another party.  They always play their music too loudly and we cannot sleep.  I think we should go over there and tell them to keep the music down.  They are not thinking of their neighbors. 

5. Tomorrow I will not arrive late to class.  I will come early because my brother is taking me, and he always drives fast.


Exercise 4:
Instructions:  Circle the error and correct the sentence.

1.  He returned quickly her book to her.

2.  She did quietly not leave the room.

2. The secretary did accurately not type the letter.

3. We closed carefully the doors and windows and early went to bed.


Adverbs of Frequency


Some of the more common adverbs of frequency include the following:

   EVER:  to ask a question about frequency.  It means "at any time."


Adverbs of frequency tell HOW OFTEN an action is repeated. They are commonly used with present or past tense.  Use "ever" to ask a question.


Using adverbs of frequency

When someone asks you a question such as "Do you EVER forget to make your bed?", you can answer using an adverb of frequency:

However, if someone asks "HOW OFTEN" an action occurs, you should include an expression of time in your answer -- not simply an adverb of frequency.

Example: How often do you go to the bank?

I (usually) go to the bank once a month.


Exercise 1:
Circle the adverbs of frequency in the following sentence.

1.  John usually gets good grades because he always studies before an exam.

2.  Charlie rarely wakes up early in the morning.  He is often late to work, and his boss is frequently upset with him.

3.  Professor Mitchell's class is never boring.  He always finds ways to keep the students interested in the day's lessons.


Placement of adverbs of frequency

Frequency adverbs are placed ...

BEFORE the main verb unless the verb is BE.

I always study in the library when I have an exam.


AFTER the verb "Be".

I am always tired after classes.


Rule:  Never put an adverb between the main verb and its object.

Wrong:  I give almost always the dog a bath on Saturday.

Correct:  I almost always give the dog a bath on Saturday.


Exercise 2:
Rewrite the sentence using the adverb in parentheses.

  1. Danny is late to work. (almost never)

  2. I study every weeknight during the semester. (always)

  3. I have time to go to parties and visit friends. (rarely)

  4. My sister calls me at night. (seldom)

  5. I am sick. (hardly ever)

  6. They are early to class. (usually)

  7. Yoshi and Rhonda swim in the lake by their house. (occasionally)


Adverbs of frequency in questions


Rule:  In questions, put the adverb of frequency after the subject.



Exercise 3: Rewrite the sentence using the adverb in parentheses.

  1. Do you have a vacation? (ever)

  2. When do you go to bed? (generally)

  3. How often does he call you? (usually)

  4. Did you travel during vacations when you lived in your country? (sometimes)


Adverbs of Frequency in Short answers

Rule:  In a short answer, put the frequency adverb between the subject and the verb for ALL verbs.



Exercise 4:  Answer the question (short answer) using the adverb in parentheses.

  1. Do you ever go to the store on Saturday? (yes -- frequently)

  2. Is he ever tired in the evening? (yes -- sometimes)

  3. Do you ever have a vacation? (yes -- occasionally)

  4. Do they ever visit you? (no---never)


Negative frequency adverbs

Rule:  The frequency adverbs "seldom", "rarely", and "never" are negative words. This means that you do not need the auxiliary "do" when you use them in a negative sentences.  With "not + ever" use the auxiliary "do"


I don't enjoy bus trips. I almost never enjoy bus trips I don't ever enjoy bus trips
I don't leave my books in class. I seldom leave my books in class. I don't ever leave my books in class.
I do not fail exams in that class. I rarely fail exams in that class. I do not ever fail exams in that class.


The negative frequency adverbs (seldom, rarely, never, hardly ever, almost never, and never) as well as "always" are always placed before the main verb unless the verb is BE. (They are placed AFTER the verb "Be".) Their position is inflexible.



John is always late.

John is late always.
John always is late.

He never does it well.

He does it never well.
Never he does it well.

I seldom work hard. 

I work hard seldom.
I work seldom hard.




Exercise 5:
Where can you put the adverb in this sentence?  Indicate location with an "X."

  1. I ask questions in that professor's class. (Never)

  2. An impolite person interrupts others while they are speaking. (always)

  3. Bad drivers signal when they are going to turn. (rarely)

  4. It is cold in the spring in Miami. (seldom)


Exercise 6:
Answer the question using the adverb in parentheses.

1.  Do you ever travel during your vacations?

(hardly ever)

(not ever)

2.  Are your parents moving to New York?


 (not ever)

3.  Do you ever catch the flu in winter?


 4.  Do you ever enjoy traveling for business reasons.

(almost never)

(not ever)


Exercise 7:
Rewrite the sentence using the NEW adverb in parentheses. 

  1. I never celebrate Arbor Day. (not + ever)

  2. Do you celebrate Arbor Day. (not + ever)

  3. Do you celebrate Arbor Day. (ever)

  4. Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in your country? (not + ever)

  5. Does your professor call on your in class? (ever)

  6. I go to the library after this class. (never)

  7. I have vacations. (negative with "ever")

  8. I have vacations. (rarely)


Flexible adverbs of frequency

Frequency adverbs that mean the same as "sometimes" or "often" (usually, often, frequently, generally, sometimes, occasionally)  are flexible in their position. In addition to the middle of the sentence (see the rules you learned above), they may also be at the beginning or the end of the sentence.



Flexible adverbs in negative sentences

These flexible adverbs of frequency are also flexible in negative sentences. They may go in front of the negative verb or after it.



Exercise 8:
Put "X" in the sentence to indicate 4 possible locations for these adverbs.

  1. He doesn't argue with his boss. (generally)

  2. School begins after Labor Day. (usually)

  3. The mail comes in the morning. (sometimes)


Exercise 9:
Unscramble these sentences.

  1. I morning to listen  news the in never the .

  2. wears rarely Michelle to  jeans  class 

  3. you Don't ever wear to work suits ? 

  4. speaks never to Zach  strangers.

  5. travel summers usually abroad in They the . 

  6. eat low-fat frequently We yogurt dessert for . 

  7. The early comes almost always mail  in the afternoon. 

  8. am Yes, frequently I . 

  9. never No, do I not. 

  10. am No, never not I . 

  11. Do ever take you to school the bus? 

  12. I to work ever with don't my go father. 

  13. believes She rarely what sees she television on .



Exercise 10:  Triad activity
Instructions:  Sit with two other students.  Each of you picks one of the questions from below (it is OK to pick the same one).  Interview each other and write the answers about your classmate as they talk about their activities.  When you are finished, share your answers with another group of 3 students or with the class.

1.  What are some of the things you always do, sometimes do, and never do on Friday nights?


2.  What are some of the things you always do, sometimes do, and never do when you are on vacation?


3.  What are some of the things you always do, sometimes do, and never do when you use the computers in the ESL labs?


Websites for more practice


Adverbs of Frequency

Brief explanation  
Explanation and practice

Practice it!


Exams: Adverbs and Adverbs of Frequency (separate files)