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Adverb of Time

Adverb of Time
Some adverbs tell us when something happened or will happen. 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 qualifies the meaning of a sentence by telling us when, for how long, or how often an action happened.

  • I am going to see a movie with my family tomorrow.
  • I have been working on this document since early morning.
  • Alice likes to work out in a gym daily.
  • She stayed in the Chantelle’s house all day.

In the above sentences, ‘tomorrow’ tells us when a thing will happen, ‘since’ tells us for how long something has been happening and ‘daily’ shows us how often an action takes place. Hence, ‘tomorrow’, ‘since’ and ‘daily’ are adverbs of time.

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Rules of Adverbs of Time

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  • Adverbs of time are most effective when placed at the end of sentences
  1. My house was burgled yesterday.
  2. I must go to see a doctor to treat my persistent cough tomorrow.
However, some adverbs of time can also be put in other positions to give a different emphasis.

  1. Later Rachel ate the apple pie. (Here, time is important)
  2. Rachel later ate the apple pie. (Here, we see a more formal usage)
  3. Rachel ate the apple pie later. (This is a neutral position)
  • Adverbs of time are most effective at the end of the sentence when describing for how long an action occurred. 
  1. I have been up on my feet all day.
  2. Alice was on the phone with her friend for hours.
  • Adverbs of time are most effective at the end of the sentence when expressing the number of times an action occurs. 
  1. The milkman comes on time daily.
  2. We love to go out for dinners weekly.
When using more than one adverb of time in a sentence, we must use a specific order where how long is addressed first, then how often and lastly, when.

  1. Mia worked as an assistant at the NGO for four days every week last year.
  2. I have been working as a volunteer at a hospital for two days every week this year.

Examples of Adverbs of Time

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Adverbs of time show us when, how long and how often an action occurs. Let’s see how some of the representative words for each are used in example sentences.

When: afterwards, soon, today, yesterday, later, now, last year, Saturday, Sunday, next week

For how long: since, all hours, all day, not long, for a while, since last year, for three days, for a week, for several years, for two centuries

How often: regularly, usually, sometimes, frequently, occasionally, never, often, yearly

“When” Adverbs:
  • Yesterday Susan went to meet all her college friends at an alumni party.
  • I am definitely going to clean up my room tomorrow.
  • Alice said she will finish her work by next week.
  • I will complete the project soon.

"For how long" Adverbs:

  • You can’t expect me to work all day!
  • We lived in Italy for a year before coming here.
  • Is it fine if Jenny plays with your toys for a while, Henry?
  • I have been suffering from an allergic cough since last month.

"How often" Adverbs:

  • Our neighbours subscribe to a weekly magazine.
  • Mrs. Carlson visits his family living in the outskirts of the city once a month.
  • She is often heard playing the piano in the wee hours of the morning.
  • John usually gets up late in the morning.
  • I eventually went to the shops.

Adverbs of Time List

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           When Adverbs where
 point of time is definite            
               How Long Adverbs                          How Often Adverbs              
 Yesterday  All morning  Frequently
 Today  For hours  Never
 Tomorrow  Since last week  Sometimes
 Later  All day  Often
 Last year  For a long time  Annually
 Now  In a few minutes  Daily
 Then  Since Sunday  Fortnightly
 Tonight  Since last year  Hourly
 Early  For four days  Monthly
 Next  For a week  Nightly
 After  For a while  Quarterly
 Afterwards  Since  Weekly
 Soon  For two centuries  Yearly
 Last week    Seldom
 Long ago    Rarely
 In the mornings    Many times
     Many years ago

Test Yourself 
I. Identify the adverbs of time in the following sentences.
  1. Do you still work for the catering company?
  2. We normally eat at home. But, we do eat out once in a while.
  3. How often do you go for a movie?  
  4. Susan gets up early in the morning. 
  5. She is always late for her dance class.
  6. Will they be gone for an entire month?
  7. I've been working here since 2011.
  8. Mrs. Charmaine always dresses in fashionable clothes.
  9. My big brother goes to college in the autumn.
  10. My shoes will be too small for me next year.
  11. We haven't received the letter yet.
  12. I need to renew my certification next summer.
  13. I have never been to the US, but eventually I will go there next year.
II. Identify the “how long” adverbs in the sentences below. Note that only some sentences contain “how long” adverbs.
  1. We have been waiting for the train all day.
  2. I will see you later. Will that work for you?
  3. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have lived in France since 2004.
  4. She seldom asks people to help her. 
  5. It has been raining since morning. I wish it would stop now.
  6. Dinner has already been served.
  7. He still hasn't finished what he was told to do.
  8. We'll celebrate his birthday in three days.
  9. When Julia talks to her boyfriend, she is really happy. This month, however, she hasn't seen him yet.
  10. My daughter and I often go to the zoo.
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