Adverbs of time change or add meaning to a sentence by telling us when, for how long, and how often a particular action happened. They have a standard position in a sentence, depending on what the adverb tells us.
What are examples of Adverbs of Time?
Adverbs of time tell us when an action has happened, but also for how long and how often. Therefore, adverbs of time are invariable. Read examples of adverbs of time in these sentences.
- Goldilocks went to the Bears’ house yesterday.
- I’m going to tidy my room tomorrow.
- I often eat vegetarian food.
- He never drinks milk.
- You must always fasten your seat belt.
How are Adverbs of Time Used?
Different adverbs of time are used to tell when, for how long, and how often something happened. Adverbs of time are most commonly used to say to us when something happened.
Adverbs that tell us when something happened are placed at the end of the sentence. For example, we have highlighted the time adverbials in these sentences in pink to help you and your students identify how they are used :
- I went to the park yesterday.
- I finished all my homework last night.
- I’m going to see my friend tomorrow.
In these examples, the time adverbials are placed at the end of the sentences. When adverbs of time are placed at the end of a sentence, they’re in a neutral position. They can be placed in different parts of the sentence to give a different emphasis. The time element is emphasized when the adverb is placed at the start of the sentence.
- Now, I’m going to walk my dog. (The adverb of time is at the beginning of the sentence, emphasizing that the action is happening now.)
- I’m going to walk my dog now. (The adverb is at the end, in a neutral position).
- I’m now going to walk my dog. (The adverb is in a neutral position in the middle of the sentence. It is because the adverb is usually perceived as more formal).
Read our list of adverbs of time you can use in your writing; here are examples of adverbs that tell us when:
- Next week
- Next month
- Last week
- Last month
- Last night
- How long – time:
Another way adverbs of time can be used to mark the passing of time or set a time limit to an activity or action. Adverbs that tell us how long something happened are usually placed at the end of the sentence. For example:
- I read my book all afternoon.
- I stayed at my friend’s house for a night.
- I went on holiday to the seaside for two weeks.
- My sister has been doing ballet since she was seven.
These can also be called adverbial phrases since they contain more than one word. The word ‘for’ is always followed by an expression of duration, whereas ‘since’ is always followed by an expression of a point in time. Read our list of examples of how adverbs of time can be used this way.
- I have been baking for half an hour.
- My family and I once lived in New Zealand for a few years.
- I was only gone for a few moments.
- I have loved reading since I was five years old.
- I have been part of the tennis club since 2010.
- I haven’t been to my school since the summer holidays started.
Adverbs of time can also tell us how often something happens. These types of adverbs of time tell us how often something happened. They determine the frequency of the action being described, which is why they’re also called adverbs of frequency.
There are two types of adverbs of frequency: those of definite frequency and those of indefinite frequency. The position of an adverb in a sentence can tell you whether it’s of definite or indefinite frequency.
Adverbs of indefinite frequency include words such as always, usually, never, often, very often, rarely, sometimes, seldom, occasionally, once in a while, repeatedly, typically, generally, and hardly ever.
Adverbs of indefinite frequency are placed in the middle of the sentence. Where it’s placed depends on the sentence itself. There are three different parts of a sentence where it can be placed. Read these examples of adverbs of time to tell frequency.
Between the subject and the main verb (unless the verb is ‘to be’):
- I always eat five fruit and vegetables a day.
- I often go to my grandparents’ house for dinner.
- My brother never tidies his bedroom.
After the ‘to be form’ when it’s the main verb in the sentence:
- My mum is rarely late.
- My dad is sometimes home early from work.
- My sister is usually out with her friends.
Between a ‘helping’ verb and the main verb. It is always authentic, even when the main verb is a verb form of ‘to be.’
- I have often gone on holiday in the summer.
- She can always wait until we get home.
- My mum will usually pick me up from school.
- They have occasionally been helpful.
Indefinite-frequency adverbs can go at the beginning or end of the sentence; the strength of the adverb differs depending on the position. Using the stronger position puts more emphasis on the adverb.
|Strong Position||Weak Position|
|I go to the cinema frequently.||I frequently go to the cinema.|
|Usually, I eat cereal for breakfast.||I usually eat cereal for breakfast.|
|I go for runs regularly.||I regularly go for runs.|
|Often, I bake cookies with my grandma.||I often bake cookies with my grandma.|
|My parents treat us to a takeaway occasionally.||My parents occasionally treat us to a takeaway.|
|Sometimes, I ride my bike into town.||I sometimes ride my bike into town.|
Other adverbs of time tell us the exact number of times that something happens or has happened. These are adverbs of definite frequency. Most often, these are placed at the beginning or end of the sentence.
The most common adverbs of definite frequency are hourly, daily, monthly, and yearly. But you can also use it once a week, every week, or every other week. In each of these, ‘week’ can be replaced with hour, day, month, year, or even minute and second.
There are also adverbs of definite frequency which give us an exact time for which something happened, e.g., four times a week, once every month, twice a year, etc.
Here are some examples:
- I go to the gym twice a week.
- We go on day trips monthly.
- I’ve been to London three times.
- Once a month, I go on a trip to the museum.
- Possibility – Yet/ Still:
‘Yet’ is an adverb of time that tells us something hasn’t happened but is expected to happen. It’s used at the end of a sentence, when forming a question, or after ‘not’ in a statement.
- ‘Have you finished your homework yet?’ ‘Not yet.’
‘Still’ shows that something is continuing to happen and hasn’t stopped. So it’s placed before the main verb and after auxiliary verbs. For the main verb ‘to be,’ ‘still’ is set after it rather than before. So ‘Still’ goes before the main verb in question.
- I’m still waiting for that new bookstore to open.
- She still hasn’t called me.
- Are you still going to the party?
- Do you still like cheesecake?
- I’m still learning.
- Multiple uses: Using more than one adverb of time in a sentence:
It’s possible to use more than one adverb of time in one sentence. For example:
- I still go to the gym twice a week.
- I always read my book before I go to bed.
- I stayed in Norfolk for two months last year.
- They volunteered for a few hours every week a few years ago.Top of Form
Is ‘quickly’ an adverb for time?
‘Quick’ is an adjective, and the adverb form is ‘quickly.’ So you can use it as an adverb of time with phrases such as ‘as quickly as possible.
She ran to the shop as quickly as possible.
An adverb of time that tells us when something happened. In this case, it tells us that it happened immediately.
How do you identify an adverb in a sentence?
An adverb is a word that describes a verb, an adjective, or even a whole sentence. Adverbs often end in -ly, but some look the same as their adjective forms.