Unit 41 Frequency and probability

Main points

* This includes words like: `always’, `ever’, `never’, `perhaps’, `possibly’ and `probably’.

* Adverbials of frequency are used to say how often something happens.

* Adverbials of probability are used to say how sure you are about something.

* These adverbials usually come before the main verb, but they come after `be’ as a main verb.

1 You use adverbials of frequency to say how often something happens.

a lot, always, ever, frequently, hardly ever, never, normally, occasionally, often, rarely, sometimes, usually

We often swam in the sea.
She never comes to my parties.

2 You use adverbials of probability to say how sure you are about something.


I definitely saw her yesterday.
The driver probably knows the quickest route.

3 You usually put adverbials of frequency and probability before the main verb and after an auxiliary or a modal.
He sometimes works downstairs in the kitchen.
You are definitely wasting your time.
I have never had such a horrible meal!
I shall never forget this day.

Note that you usually put them after `be’ as a main verb.
He is always careful with his money.
You are probably right.

`Perhaps’ usually comes at the beginning of the sentence.
Perhaps the beaches are cleaner in the north.
Perhaps you need a membership card to get in.

`A lot’ always comes after the main verb.
I go swimming a lot in the summer.

4 `Never’ is a negative adverb.
She never goes abroad.
I’ve never been to Europe.

You normally use `ever’ in questions, negative sentences, and `if’-clauses.
Have you ever been to a football match?
Don’t ever do that again!
If you ever need anything, just call me.

Note that you can sometimes use `ever’ in affirmative sentences, for example after a superlative.
She is the best dancer I have ever seen.

You use `hardly ever’ in affirmative sentences to mean almost never.
We hardly ever meet.