20 Spanish Adverbs of Frequency and How to Use Them
How often do you take a shower? How often do you walk your dog? How often do you eat out? Always, generally, hardly ever or never? These are some ways of answering all of these questions. These words are adverbs—more specifically, Spanish adverbs of frequency.
The definition of an adverb is a word that modifies:
- an adjective
- a verb
- or even another adverb.
Most adverbs in Spanish are an adjective followed by the suffix -mente (similar to the English “-ly”). For example if you have the adjective fuerte (strong), add -mente to turn it into fuertemente (strongly).
We use adverbs of frequency to describe how often an action happens. They modify adjectives and verbs only (not other adverbs) and they’re very useful to talk about habits, customs, and your everyday life!
How to Ask about the Frequency of an Action in Spanish
Before expressing ourselves, it’s convenient to know how to ask someone else about the frequency of their actions. In Spanish, there are several ways to do this. Some of the most common questions are:
¿Qué tan seguido…?
¿Con qué frecuencia…?
¿Qué tan frecuentemente?
How many times…
How often…. (How much…)
Example Questions in Spanish
¿Cada cuánto haces ejercicio?
How often do you exercise?
¿Qué tan seguido escuchas rap?
How often do you listen to rap?
¿Con qué frecuencia estudias español?
How frequently do you study Spanish?
¿Qué tan frecuentemente almuerzas comida chatarra?
How frequently do you eat junk food for lunch?
¿Cuántas veces al día comes chocolates?
How many times a day do you eat (pieces of) chocolate?
¿Qué tanto nadas?
How often do you swim? (Literally: How much do you swim?)
PRO TIP: The question: ¿Qué tanto…? is the equivalent to “how much” in English, however, if you use it with a verb (nadar in this case), it’s clear that you’re asking about the frequency of the action and not the amount of time or distance that you swim.
Indefinite Adverbs of Frequency in Spanish
An indefinite adverb of frequency does not tell us exactly how often an action occurs.
The following words are ordered by higher frequency to lower.
Eternamente – eternally
Eternamente is not a very common adverb of frequency, but it is the equivalent to “eternally” in English. While we don’t use it that much in our everyday life we can use it in special occasions when we want to add extra emphasis to something.
Quiero ser tu esposo eternamente.
I want to be your husband eternally.
Siempre – always
Siempre means “always” and it’s a common adverb of frequency.
Siempre me lavo los dientes antes de irme a dormir.
I always brush my teeth before going to sleep.
Siempre empaco una botella de agua extra por si acaso.
I always pack an extra bottle of water just in case.
Te digo siempre cuánto te quiero.
I always tell you how much I love you.
Casi Siempre – almost always
Add the word casi (almost) in front of siempre to reduce its frequency just a little bit.
Casi siempre bebo jugo de naranja en el desayuno.
I almost always drink orange juice at breakfast.
Juego fútbol los viernes casi siempre.
I almost always play soccer on Fridays.
Mi mamá casi siempre me llama Jorge.
My mom almost always calls me Jorge.
Muy A Menudo o Muy Seguido – very often
Muy a menudo and muy seguido are synonyms that translate to “very often.”
Estoy en el hospital muy a menudo, trabajo allí.
I am at the hospital very often, I work there.
Saludamos a la vecina muy seguido hasta que se mudó.
We used to greet the neighbor very often until she moved away.
No puedo comer muy seguido, me da nausea.
I can’t eat very often, it makes me nauseous.
Jugábamos muy a menudo cuando éramos chicos.
We used to play very often when we were kids.
PRO TIP: Reduce the frequency of these adverbs even further by removing “muy.” In other words, muy seguido and muy a menudo are more frequent than seguido and a menudo.
Constantemente – constantly
Constantemente means “constantly” in English.
Ella me molesta constantemente.
She teases me constantly.
Generalmente o por lo general – generally
Generalmente and por lo general are interchangeable and mean “generally.”
Generalmente no me despierto temprano.
(Usually) Generally, I don’t wake up early.
Por lo general no nos tomamos ninguna pastilla antes de dormir.
(Usually) Generally, we don’t take any pills before going to sleep.
Usualmente – usually
Usualmente and generalmente express a similar frequency. Usualmente means “usually.”
Usualmente no recibo clases online.
Usually I don’t receive online classes.
Normalmente – normally
Normalmente me voy a dormir tarde.
Normally I go to sleep late.
No tomo café normalmente.
I don’t normally drink coffee.
Regularmente – regularly
Regularmente me ducho por la noche.
Regularly, I take a shower at night.
No bebo gaseosas regularmente.
I don’t regularly drink soda.
A veces – sometimes
We have reached an important adverb of frequency. A veces means “sometimes” and expresses things that happen (more or less) half the time.
A veces digo cosas feas sin querer.
Sometimes I say ugly things without meaning to.
No debo comer dulces, pero a veces lo hago.
I am not supposed to eat candy, but sometimes I do.
A veces es bueno dormir hasta 9 horas.
Sometimes it’s good to sleep up to 9 hours.
¿Ves caricaturas? A veces sí, a veces no.
Do you watch cartoons? Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’.t.
Algunas veces – sometimes
Wait! Aren’t a veces and algunas veces the same? While this can be technically true, Spanish speakers perceive algunas veces as an adverb of frequency with a little lower frequency than a veces. They both mean sometimes, though.
Algunas veces me acuesto a ver las nubes.
Sometimes I lay down to watch the clouds.
Algunas veces cocino en mi casa.
Sometimes I cook at home.
De vez en cuando – every once in a while
De vez en cuando is the adverb of frequency equivalent to “every once in a while” in English. It is very common to use and very important to understand how to use it. Check out these sentences:
Como pie de pecanas de vez en cuando.
I eat pecan pie every once in a while.
De vez en cuando voy al cine.
I go to the movies every once in a while.
Solo puedo comer hamburguesas de vez en cuando.
I can only eat burgers every once in a while.
PRO TIP: If you add the word “muy” to de vez en cuando you will reduce its frequency.
Rara vez – rarely
Rara vez means “rarely” (we don’t say “raramente”) and it’s similar to “every once in a while.”
Rara vez veo a mis primos que viven en Estados Unidos.
I rarely see my cousins who live in the United States.
Rara vez escucho jazz.
I rarely listen to jazz.
Rara vez juego voleibol.
I rarely play volleyball.
Casi nunca – hardly ever
Similar to the positive side of the spectrum, “casi” modifies how absolute the adverb of frequency is. While nunca is “never,” casi nunca is the equivalent to “hardly ever.”
Casi nunca tomo café con leche.
I hardly ever drink coffee with milk.
No llego tarde a mi casa casi nunca.
I hardly ever get home late.
Casi nunca hablo con extraños.
I hardly ever talk to strangers.
Nunca o jamás – never
Nunca and jamás are the exact same thing. Both are equivalent to “never.”
No quiero verte nunca más.
I don’t ever want to see you again.
Jamás viajaré a China, es muy lejos.
I’ll never travel to China, it’s too far.
Nunca me dejan jugar.
They never let me play.
Jamás podía comer cerezas.
I never used to be able to eat cherries.
PRO TIP: While nunca and jamás are negative adverbs, they can follow the word “no” since double negatives are common in Spanish.
Definite Adverbs of Frequency in Spanish
Unlike their indefinite counterparts, these Spanish adverbs of frequency are precise and exact.
We can build these adverbs with the help of other adverbs, such as:
Cada – each
Cada means “each” in Spanish. Some common time words to combine it with are:
- segundo (second)
- minuto (minute)
- hora (hour)
- día (day)
- semana (week)
- mes (month)
- año (year)
Additionally, you can combine cada with some non-specific words, such as:
- momento (moment)
- rato (while)
Debo tomar una pastilla cada día.
I need to take a pill every day.
Cada mes hay que pagar los impuestos.
We have to pay taxes every month.
Cada año la situación empeora.
Every year the situation gets worse.
Todos o todas – every
Todos o todas means “every” (or all). Combine this with:
- días (days)
- semanas (weeks)
- meses (months)
- años (years)
Todos los días saco a pasear a mi perro.
Every day I take my dog out for a walk.
Todas las semanas visito a mis padres.
I visit my parents every week.
Todos los meses pago la renta.
I pay the rent every month.
Todos los años nos visita Santa Claus.
Every year Santa Claus visits us.
Adverbs Ending in -mente
Earlier I mentioned you could add -mente to a word to turn it into an adverb. Here are some definite adverbs of frequency that do so:
- Anualmente (yearly)
- Mensualmente (monthly)
- Semanalmente (weekly)
- Diariamente (daily)
Me voy de viaje anualmente.
I take a trip yearly.
Tenemos una reunión mensualmente.
We have a meeting monthly.
Comemos pollo semanalmente.
We eat chicken weekly.
Tomamos vitaminas diariamente.
We take vitamins daily.
Adverb Placement in Spanish
Spanish is more fluid compared to English when it comes to placing adverbs of frequency. Unlike English, though, we do not place them between the auxiliary and main verb. Instead, we may put them in the beginning of a sentence, the end, or next to the verb.
Check out the various possible orders in the following examples:
Adverbs of Frequency That Modify Verbs
When we modify a verb with an adverb of frequency in Spanish, we’ll put it in front of the verb like this:
Joaquín siempre salta.
Joaquín always jumps.
or after the verb like this:
Joaquín salta siempre.
Joaquín always jumps.
but not starting the sentence in front of the subject:
Siempre Joaquín salta. (incorrect)
Always Joaquín jumps.
Adverbs of Frequency That Modify Entire Sentences
When we want to modify an entire sentence with an adverb of frequency, we can place it pretty much anywhere, except, as I mentioned, between the auxiliary and main verbs.
Él ha siempre sido una buena persona. (incorrect!)
Correct options include:
- Él siempre ha sido una buena persona.
- (Él) Siempre ha sido una buena persona.
- Él ha sido una buena persona siempre.
- Él ha sido siempre una buena persona.
When you want to talk about negative adverbs of frequency (nunca o jamás) be sure to put them before the verb and use another negative (no) to complement them. Don’t say:
Ella come jamás pescado. (incorrect!)
Ella come pescado jamás. (incorrect!)
Correct options include:
- Ella no come pescado jamás.
- Ella jamás come pescado.
- (Ella) Jamás come pescado.
Adverbs of Frequency Quiz:
1. Which of these has a lower frequency than its original form?
2. What’s the synonym of never?
3. Which of these sentences is incorrect?
4. Which one of these sentences makes the most sense?
5. Translate: “my brother runs once in a blue moon”.
6. Which one of these is the correct sentence?
7. Which of these adverbs of frequency are very similar in level?
8. Which of these sentences has a misplaced adverb of frequency?
9. What’s the correct translation of: “I hardly ever watch sports”?
10. Which of the following sentences isn’t correct?
Practice Your Adverbs of Frequency in Spanish!
Reading and memorizing are useful at the early stages of learning but if you’re ready to take the leap into Spanish fluency, sign up for a free class with one of our friendly, certified professional teachers from Guatemala! Let these adverbs of frequency become second nature in your Spanish conversations with a native speaker!
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