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Adverbs of Time

What is an adverb of time?

Adverbs that change or qualify the meaning of a sentence by telling us when things happen are defined as adverbs of time.

An adverb of time is just what you might expect it to be – a word that describes when, for how long, or how often a certain action happened. You will notice that many adverbs of time are the same as adverbs of frequency. There is quite a bit of overlap between these two types of adverbs – so much so that some instructors choose to mention one or the other but not both.

These simple rules for adverbs of time will help you to use them the right way:

  • Adverbs of time often work best when placed at the end of sentences. For example:
    • Robin Hood swindled the Sheriff of Nottingham yesterday.
    • I’m sick of living in chaos, so I’m going to clean my house tomorrow.
    • You can change the position of an adverb of time to lend emphasis to a certain aspect of a sentence. For example:
      • Later Robin Hood stole the king’s crown. (The time is the most important element here.)
      • Robin Hood later stole the king’s crown. (This is a formal way to use the adverb later. Notice how the statement sounds like it belongs in a police report.)
      • Robin Hood stole the king’s crown later. (This is a neutral, standard way to use the adverb later.)
      • Adverbs of time describing for how long an action occurred usually work best at the end of a sentence. For example:
        • She stayed at her grandmother’s house all day.
        • My father was up with heartburn for hours.
        • Adverbs of time that express an exact number of times the action happens usually work best at the end of a sentence. For example:
          • The newspaper arrives daily.
          • They go out to dinner weekly.
          • Our family goes on an outing monthly.
          • When using more than one adverb of time in a sentence, use them in the following order:
            • 1. How long
            • 2. How often
            • 3. When

For example: She volunteered at the hospital (1) for three days (2) every month (3) last year.

 

Examples of Adverbs of Time

Each sentence contains an example of an adverb of time; the examples are italicized for easy identification.

Are you coming to work tomorrow?

I’d like to go to the movies later.

Jim was so sick he spent four weeks in the hospital.

 

Adverbs of Time Exercises

The following exercises will help you to gain better understanding about how adverbs of time work. Choose the best answer to complete each sentence.

  1. We go out for Japanese food ________________.
    1. Willingly
    2. Normally
    3. Weekly
    4. Perfectly

Answer: C. We go out for Japanese food weekly. (This sentence talks about how often we go out for Japanese food.)

  1. Have you done your homework _____________?
    1. Now
    2. Then
    3. Yet
    4. Still

Answer: C. Have you done your homework yet? (This question inquires whether homework has been done at the appointed time.)

  1. Do you _______________ work at the bank?
    1. Still
    2. Never
    3. Grudgingly
    4. Happily

Answer: A. Do you still work at the bank?  (This question asks whether the subject is employed at the bank as they were in the past.)

  1. Would you rather drive sometimes or take the train ______________?
    1. Still
    2. Never
    3. Every day
    4. To the beach

Answer: C. Would you rather drive sometimes or take the train every day? (This question asks how often the subject would prefer to take the train instead of driving.)

  1. The patient is ­­­­­­­­­­­­­___________ waiting to see the doctor.
    1. Still
    2. Never
    3. Every day
    4. Sadly

Answer: A. The patient is still waiting to see the doctor. (This sentence expresses continuity. The patient was waiting to see the doctor before and is still waiting.)

Adverbs of Time List

After reading this list of adverbs of time, you may be able to come up with several more on your own. Remember that adverbs of time always tell us when, how long, and how often something happens.

When:

Yesterday

Today

Tomorrow

Later

Last year

Now

How long:

All morning

For hours

Since last week

How often:

Frequently

Never

Sometimes

Often

Annually