Adverbs of Time

ADVERBS OF TIME

Adverbs of Time

Adverbs of time tell us when an action happened, but also for how long, and how often.

Examples

  • When: today, yesterday, later, now, last year
  • For how long: all day, not long, for a while, since last year
  • How often: sometimes, frequently, never, often, yearly

When adverbs are usually placed at the end of the sentence:

Examples

  • Goldilocks went to the Bears' house yesterday.
  • I'm going to tidy my room tomorrow.

This is a neutral position, but some when adverbs can be put in other positions to give a different emphasis

Compare:

  • Later Goldilocks ate some porridge. (the time is more important)
  • Goldilocks later ate some porridge. (this is more formal, like a policeman's report)
  • Goldilocks ate some porridge later. (this is neutral, no particular emphasis)

"For how long" adverbs are usually placed at the end of the sentence:

Examples

  • She stayed in the Bears' house all day.
  • My mother lived in France for a year.

Notice: 'for' is always followed by an expression of duration:

Examples

  • for three days,
  • for a week,
  • for several years,
  • for two centuries.

'since' is always followed by an expression of a point in time:

Examples

  • since Monday,
  • since 1997,
  • since the last war.

"How often" adverbs expressing the frequency of an action are usually placed before the main verb but after auxiliary verbs (such as be, have, may, must):

Examples

  • I often eat vegetarian food. (before the main verb)
  • He never drinks milk. (before the main verb)
  • You must always fasten your seat belt. (after the auxiliary must)
  • She is never sea-sick.(after the auxiliary is)
  • I have never forgotten my first kiss. (after the auxiliary have and before the main verb forgotten)

Some other "how often" adverbs express the exact number of times an action happens and are usually placed at the end of the sentence:

Examples

  • This magazine is published monthly.
  • He visits his mother once a week.

When a frequency adverb is placed at the end of a sentence it is much stronger.

Compare:

  • She regularly visits France.
  • She visits France regularly.

Adverbs that can be used in these two positions:

  • frequently,
  • generally,
  • normally,
  • occasionally,
  • often,
  • regularly,
  • sometimes,
  • usually

'Yet' and 'still'

Yet is used in questions and in negative sentences, and is placed at the end of the sentence or after not.

Examples

  • Have you finished your work yet? (= a simple request for information) No, not yet. (= simple negative answer)
  • They haven't met him yet. (= simple negative statement)
  • Haven't you finished yet? (= expressing slight surprise)

Still expresses continuity; it is used in positive sentences and questions, and is placed before the main verb and after auxiliary verbs (such as be, have, might, will)

Examples

  • I am still hungry.
  • She is still waiting for you
  • Are you still here?
  • Do you still work for the BBC?

ORDER OF ADVERBS OF TIME

If you need to use more than one adverb of time at the end of a sentence, use them in this order:

1: 'how long'
2: 'how often'
3: 'when' (think of 'low')

Examples

  • 1 + 2 : I work (1) for five hours (2) every day
  • 2 + 3 : The magazine was published (2) weekly (3) last year.
  • 1 + 3 : I was abroad (1) for two months (3) last year.
  • 1 + 2 + 3 : She worked in a hospital (1) for two days (2) every week (3) last year.