Adverbs of definite frequency – How often?

How Often?

HOW OFTEN means with what frequency.
I want to know the frequency you do something.

The pronunciation of OFTEN

OFTEN can be pronounced in two different ways.
By pronouncing the T … OF-TEN
or by not pronouncing the T …OF-FEN.
(Listen to the difference of pronunciation in the video above)
Both forms are correct and depend on where you live.

So we can SAY How OFTEN? or HOW “OFFEN”?
BUT, do not write the word as OFFEN!

An example:

  • How often do you brush your teeth?

This means I want to know the frequency that you brush your teeth.

How to answer a question with HOW OFTEN

When someone asks you a question with HOW OFTEN, you normally respond with an adverb of definite frequency.
This means it has a definite or exact frequency.

And how can we express this? We use the following structure.
Number + times + a + time period (this time period is a singular noun)

  • Three times a month
  • Four times a year

BUT there is an exception to this rule with the first two numbers.

We do not say one time, no, we say ONCE.
And we don’t say two times, no, we say TWICE.

  • once a day
  • twice a week
  • three times a month
  • four times a year

Notice how the Time period is a singular noun…
Day, not days.
Week, not weeks.

Some examples:

  • He has lunch with his mother once a week.
  • She visits the dentist twice a year.
  • I brush my teeth three times a day.
  • Mike goes to the gym four times a week.

EVERY + a time period

Another common way of expressing frequency is by using:

Every + a time period (note that this time period is a singular noun)

  • Every day
  • Every week
  • Every month
  • Every year.

There is no plural S at the end of these words.

Instead of saying Every day, you can say Daily … be careful with the spelling of this word.

And of course you can say weekly and monthly too.

With the word YEAR, it is a lot more common to say ANNUALLY instead of Yearly.

Look at these examples. We can say…

  • We pay our mortgage every month … OR
  • We pay our mortgage monthly.
  • The zoo is open every day … OR
  • The zoo is open daily.
  • I call her daily to make sure she is fine.
  • The subscription needs to be paid annually. (which means every year.)

EVERY + number + time period

Another possibility is using:
EVERY + number + a time period

In this case, the time period is a plural noun

  • Every two days
  • Every three weeks
  • Every four months.

Some example sentences…

  • There is a leap day every four years. (February 29th is a leap day.)
  • I have to take one tablet every eight hours.
  • The magazine is published every two weeks.

In British English a period of two weeks is known as a fortnight.

  • The magazine is published every fortnight.

Let’s practice!

Answer the following questions about your life using adverbs of frequency.

  • How often do you wash your hair?
  • How often do you go to the dentist?
  • How often do you have English classes?
  • How often do you eat fast food?
  • How often do you brush your teeth?
  • How often do you get a haircut?
  • How often do you go to a restaurant?

English Summary Chart

How often? Adverbs of Definite Frequency in English

Lesson tags: Adverbs
Back to: English Course > Adverbs in English

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