Adverbs of Time

Read this simple lesson and learn how to use the adverbs of time.

Time adverbs tell us when an action happened, and also for how long, and how often

Adverbs that tell us when

These adverbs are commonly placed at the end of the sentence.

  • John went to the bank yesterday.
  • Jane is going to a party tomorrow.
  • The children are coming today.
  • You can watch television later.
  • I moved house last month.

These adverbs can be placed at the beginning of the sentence to emphasise the time element.

  • Last year I was in India.
  • Tomorrow the children are coming.

Adverbs that tell us for how long

These adverbs are commonly place at the end of the sentence.

  • They have been making noise all night.
  • I have lived on Mars for 3 years.
  • I have been feeling sick since Tuesday.

For and Since

For is always followed by a duration. Since is always followed by a point in time.

  • I went on holiday for 3 weeks.
  • I ran for 25 minutes.
  • She has been working since 10 o’clock.
  • The government has been in office since 2008.

Adverbs that tell us how often

These adverbs tell us the frequency of an action. They are commonly placed before the main verb but after auxiliary verbs ( be, have, may, & must). The exception is when the main verb is “to be”. In that case the adverb goes after “to be”.

  • She often goes to the cinema.
  • I always drive to work.
  • He never drinks coffee.
  • The cat seldom pays me any attention.
  • The cat rarely goes outside.

Some of these adverbs of frequency can be used in 2 positions in a sentence making it either weaker or strong:

Adverb Strong Position Weak Position
Usually I enjoy walking the dog usually I usually enjoy walking the dog
Sometimes I go to bed very late sometimes I sometimes go to bed very late
Regularly I go to the gym regularly I regularly go to the gym
Often I work at night often I often work at night
Occasionally I go to the theatre occasionally I occassionally go to the theatre
Normally I watch comedy films normally I normally watch comedy films
Frequently I climb mountains frequently I frequently climb mountains

An exact number of times

  • This English blog is published daily.
  • We played the game 5 times.
  • She gets paid once a month.

Still conveys continuity

  • I am still learning English.
  • The car still won’t start.
  • The children are still misbehaving.
  • He still works at the bakery.

Yet is commonly used in questions and negative sentences

  • Have you done your homework yet? No, not yet.
  • They haven’t managed to buy a house yet.

The order of adverbs of time

When using several adverbs of time in a sentence, use them in this order:

  1. how long
  2. how often
  3. when
  • He was there for 3 days¹ last week³.
  • I went to France twice² when I was 6 years old³.
  • She worked for 3 days¹ every week².