Do you notice anything off with this statement?
Instead of ‘yesterday night’, we say ‚last night‘ or ‚yesterday evening‘ – ‚last night‘ is used more often than ‚yesterday evening‘, which can sound a little formal. Below are some tips on using adverbs of time.
Grammar point – adverbs of time
Adverbs of time tell us when something happened, as well as for how long and how often.
Some common adverbs that tells us when something happened:
A point in time – now, then, yesterday, last night/week/month/year, the day before
A relationship in time – already, early, late, before, after, eventually, finally, first, last, just, yet, soon, still, since, recently, lately, formerly, previously
Adverbs that tell us for how long:
Duration – for a year, all day, long, since, for
Adverbs that tell us how often something happens:
Frequency (indefinite) – rarely, hardly, seldom, frequently, occasionally, often, generally, normally, constantly, never, ever
Frequency (definite) – hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, annually, biannually, quarterly, nightly
Adverbs that relate to a point in time or a relationship in time are usually placed at the end of a clause. However, placing them at the beginning places more emphasis on them.
- I saw my mother yesterday.
- I do my taxes quarterly.
- Last week I heard the strangest thing.
Adverbs of duration are usually placed at the end of a sentence or sometimes in the middle.
- I can read for hours without getting tired.
- I’m not staying very long.
- I haven’t seen him since 2016.
- I have been working here for ten years.
Adverbs of frequency are usually placed before the main verb but after auxiliary (helping) verbs – this is the mid position.
- I often go running in the morning.
- I rarely speak to her anymore.
- She is usually not this quiet.
Many, but not all, adverbs of frequency can go at the beginning or end of a clause. Ever, never and always do not go at the beginning. Sometimes, usually, often and occasionally can go at the beginning.
- Sometimes I like to go for long walks in the woods.
- I watch TV for hours sometimes.
- I check my emails hourly.
- Usually we visit my grandmother on Sundays.
- I never knew it could get so cold here. (NOT: Never I knew…)
- She is always on time.
Adverbs of frequency meaning ’not very often‘ have a negative meaning and therefore are not used with ’not‘ in a sentence. They are usually in the mid position or at the beginning with an inverted subject and verb for a formal sentence. In this case, if there is no modal or auxiliary verb, we add ‚do‘.
- I rarely go to the gym anymore. (NOT: I don’t rarely go…)
- Rarely are things as good as they seem./Rarely do things get so bad.
- He was hardly ever late./Hardly ever was he late.
- Seldom is he late.