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What are adverbs of frequency?

Adverbs of frequency are used to say how often we do things or how often things happen. Here are some common adverbs of frequency (in order from most frequent to least frequent):

  • always (do 100% of the time - e.g. She always drinks coffee in the morning.)
  • almost always / nearly always
  • often
  • usually / frequently
  • sometimes (do approximatley 40%-60% of the time - e.g. I sometimes go for a walk in the evening.)
  • occasionally
  • rarely / seldom
  • hardly ever / almost never
  • never (do 0% of the time - e.g. He never passes his English test.)


Adverb position

An adverb of frequency goes before a main verb in a sentence:

  • I often play tennis on Sundays. (subject + adverb + main verb)

However, the exception is when the sentence contains the verb 'to be'. In this case it goes after the verb:

  • I am usually hungry after school. (subject + to be + adverb)

In addition, when there is an auxiliary verb (e.g. have, will, must, might, could, would, can, etc.), the adverb is placed between the auxiliary verb and the main verb.

  • She can almost always beat her brother at chess. (subject + auxiliary + adverb + main verb)

These adverbs of freqnecy can also be used at the beginning of a sentence:
Usually, normally, often, frequently, sometimes, occasionally

  • Sometimes, I go shopping on Sundays.(adverb + subject + main verb)

In this lesson students will practice saying adverbs of frequency to indicate how often they do certain activities. It is an action-packed lesson with lots of fun action activities.

IMPORTANT: This lesson reviews vocabulary and structures from the Days of the Week lesson, so be sure to have taught it before this one.

Lesson Procedure:

Warm Up and Maintenance:

See our "Warm Up & Wrap Up" page.

New Learning and Practice:

1. Review days of the week and play ball toss
To begin, get everybody standing up and toss a ball to a student who tosses it to another student and so on around the class – let everyone have fun for a minute throwing the ball around the class and trying not to let it drop on the floor.

Next, have a student toss the ball to you and as you catch it shout “Monday”. Toss the ball to another student and encourage him/her to shout “Tuesday” as they catch it. Continue with the days of the week being shouted out in the correct order, going around the class. If the ball is dropped or the wrong day is said you must start again with Monday. Set a target of 3 or 4 fast rounds without mistakes or dropping the ball.

2. Discuss the best day of the week
Get everyone to sit down. Write on the top of the board “The best day of the week is” and ask the class for their answers. Most probably it will be Saturday or Sunday. Take a vote for the most popular answer and write this on the board, for example:

The best day of the week is Saturday

Next, ask why it is the best day of the week and encourage students to shout out answers. Write the things they do on the board as they are shouted out, for example:

Best day of the week.

3. Introduce the adverbs of frequency
Choose one of the activities on the board, such as “I go shopping with friends”. In the space on the right-side of the board write “On Saturdays, I _________ go shopping with friends”.

Then under this, draw a vertical line with 0% at the bottom and 100% at the top to make a frequency chart, as follows:

Adverbs of frequency 1

Then point to yourself and point at the 0% and shake your head to indicate that you never go shopping with friends on Saturdays.

Next, get a few volunteers to come up to the board and point on the vertical line where their answer would be (e.g. around 50% for sometimes, 70% for often, etc.).

At this point we’ll add the frequency adverbs to the chart. Before class, prepare cards with the adverbs of frequency written on them (always, almost always, often, usually, sometimes, rarely, hardly ever, almost never, never). Put the “never” card at 0% on the board. Say “I never go shopping with friends on Saturdays”.

Give the rest of the cards to different students and ask them, one-by-one, to come to the board and place them where they think they would go on the chart. As each student guesses, get everyone to help by saying “higher!” or “lower!”. Keep having students come up to the board with their cards until you have a completed chart:

Adverbs of frequency 2

Go around the class asking everyone to say how often the go shopping using the full structure (e.g. “On Saturdays, I often go shopping with friends.”)

Put students into small groups of 3 or 4 and get them to say how often they do all the activities written on the board. Circulate and help out with mistakes.

Finish by asking a few students some questions, for example,

Teacher: Frank, how often do you go swimming on Saturdays?
Student: On Saturdays, I hardly ever go swimming.
Teacher: Good job! Helen, how often do you sleep in on Saturdays?
Student: On Saturdays, I always sleep in.

4. Do the "Adverbs of frequency questionnaire"
Put students in pairs. Give out the A/B pair worksheets and allow a couple of minutes for everyone to check for vocabulary issues. Then start the activity - everyone asks their partners the questions from the questionnaire and records their answers. At the end, have your students tell the class about their partners.

5. Play the “Climb the frequency ladder” game
On the board write the title “Climb the ladder” and draw a ladder with 9 rungs, running from the top of the board to the bottom.

Label each rung with the adverbs of frequency from today’s lesson, with “never” on the bottom rung and “always” on the top, for example:

Climb the frequency ladder game

Get everyone to stand up and find a partner. Tell the class that everyone starts on the bottom rung of the ladder and to win they must reach the top rung. They do this by asking their partner questions, trying to elicit the response for the rung of the ladder they are on. For example, for the bottom rung, they must get their partner to answer “never”:

Student A: How often do you cook dinner?
Student B: I never cook dinner.

If the answer is “never” the student moves up to the next rung (“almost never”), changes partners and asks questions to elicit the next adverb. However, if the answer is wrong, they get knocked down a rung of the ladder. They are allowed to ask questions to the same partner if they are knocked back down, but once they get to a higher rung they must change partners again. The student who gets to the top of the ladder first is the winner.

6. Read classroom reader "The Mystery of the Missing Magic Carpet"
Let’s end the lesson with a fun story! Before class, download and print off the reader "The Mystery of the Missing Magic Carpet". As you go through each page, point to the pictures and elicit what everyone thinks is happening, for example:

Read classroom reader "The Mystery of the Missing Magic Carpet"Teacher: (pointing at the picture on page 3) Oh dear, Maria doesn’t look very happy, does she? What do you think is wrong?
Student: Her pencil is on the floor?
Teacher: Yes, it is on the floor. But why is Maria unhappy?
Student: Did you lose her pencil?
Teacher: Maybe! Let’s check (reading … ) “This was strange. I hardly ever lose things. Last year, I lost a pencil but that is the only thing I have ever lost.” Yes, you are right! Well done!

Get the students really involved in the story by asking lots of questions and getting them to speculate about the story and using adverbs of frequency.

After reading the story, give out a reader worksheet to each student and have everyone try to remember which adverb is used in which part of the story and fill in the answers on the worksheets. Then go quickly go through the story again, checking the answers.


Alternatively, watch our video version of the reader (Internet connection required):


Wrap Up:

1. Assign Homework: "Adverbs of frequency write" worksheet.
2. Wrap up the lesson with some ideas from our "Warm Up & Wrap Up" page.

Print Outs / Worksheets:


Additional materials:

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