Adverbs of Time

What are Adverbs of Time?

Adverbs of time can demonstrate when an action has occurred in relation to other points in time. Adverbs like before and after show that an action happened ahead or behind something else, while adverbs like never, always, sometimes, frequently, and occasionally detail the frequency of the activity.

Additionally adverbs such as now and then depict a current moment in time compared to another situation. More specifically adverbs of time describe with greater accuracy when something has taken place rather than just using simple words such as earlier or later.

Understanding adverbs of time helps people better articulate such occurrences; ultimately allowing for improved communication between peers and businesses alike.

Adverbs of Time Rules

Learning these four critical rules when using adverbs of time will help communication become clearer and easier.

Exceptions with Modal VerbsPlacement ensures the adverb is in front of the main verb, even if there is a helping verb present. Modal verbs such as ‘can’ are exceptions, in which case the Adverb comes after rather than before them.
Frequency OrderIt is important to remember to place adverbs indicating more frequent actions first, such as ‘always’ before other ones like ‘sometimes’.
Additional AdverbsTwo adverbs cannot be used within one sentence without being separated by a comma or by pairing them with coordinating conjunctions such as ‘and’ or ‘but’.
Double NegativesWatch out for double negatives which can change the meaning of a phrase completely.
Adverbs of Time Rules and exploration table
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Examples of Adverbs of Time

Adverbs of time come with specificity in regard to how an action is occurring, has occurred, or will occur. Examples of adverbs of time are:

  • “Yesterday”
  • “Today”
  • “Tomorrow”

This covers a broad range of adverbs from those that refer to a particular moment (i.e. now) to adverbs that refer to the indefinite past or future (i.e. ultimately).

Understanding adverbs of time can be helpful for accurately communicating when certain events take place. Additionally, adverbs of time also let us know what timeframe something happens in which allows us to visualize the event more clearly in our minds.

Adverbs of Time Exercises with Answers


“I _ ate dinner at the new restaurant down the street.”

“Now, I’m _ _ _ seeing what else it has to offer!”

“As for _, I may come back for lunch.”

_ have I seen such delicious food!”

_, I take this cuisine for granted but it always leaves me wanting more.”


“I recently ate dinner at the new restaurant down the street.”

“Now, I’m looking forward to seeing what else it has to offer!”

“As for tomorrow, I may come back for lunch.”

Never have I seen such delicious food!”

Sometimes, I take this cuisine for granted but it always leaves me wanting more.”

Adverbs of Time List

NowIndicates the present moment.
ThenIndicates an event at a particular time in the past
LaterRefers to a point of time farther away from the present.
SoonUsed to indicate something will happen in the near future.
YesterdayRefers to the day before today.
TodayUsed to indicate the current day.
TomorrowSignals something will happen in the future.
Adverbs of Time table and examples.
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Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

Learning a list of adverbs of time can be an essential part of mastering English as a second language (ESL). Adverbs are very useful in forming more complex questions and statements which makes communication easier. Start with simple adverbs like “now”, “yesterday”, and “tomorrow” to familiarize yourself with adverbs of time usage.

Once these adverbs are cemented in your knowledge, gradually introduce more interesting adverbs such as “recently” and “soon”. Additionally, explore various adverb combinations to build up your adverb vocabulary. With enough practice, fluent use of adverbs of time in conversation will eventually become easy. Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand adverbs of place and adverbs of condition.

Common Mistakes Made by English Learners

English learners often make the same mistakes when it comes to phrases of time. They frequently put adverbs at the beginning of sentences, when they should be placed in the middle. Another common mistake is using a verb without an adverb when it’s required. For example, saying “I did yesterday” instead of “I did it yesterday.”

By understanding the intricacies between adverbs and verbs, English learners can effectively improve their language skills. Additionally, it is important to remember that adverbs of time are not interchangeable and must be used appropriately in context to express a specific idea or message. With practice and lots of patience, English learners can gain confidence in their ability with adverbs of time.

Common Mistakes:

1. Incorrect Tense

Why it Happens

Not having a firm grasp on correct tense usage can confuse your statements. This can cause you to use the wrong adverbs and misconstrue your message.

Correct Use

When speaking in the present simple tense, you would use an adverb that reflects current habits and routines (i.e. never, seldom). Keep tense in mind when selecting your adverbs.

2. Incorrect Repetition

Why it Happens

It can be easy to do, but using too many adverbs can cause a double negative. For example “I always never go there”. This is an obsolete statement because to “never” do something is to “always never” do it.

Correct Use

Avoid placing two-time adverbs together in one statement; this often ends up turning your sentence into a contradiction.

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3. Incorrect Context

Why it Happens

People don’t know how to decipher the difference between something that is happening now, and something that is ongoing.

Correct Use

If you want to express that something happened multiple times in the past but is not a continuous habit now, use ‘used to’ instead of ‘always’.

4. Incorrect Usage

Why it Happens

You don’t know which adverbs to use, so you use too many and it confuses the statement.

Correct Use

Using too many time adverbs can make your writing sound monotonous and can also lead to viewers losing interest. Therefore it is important to focus on expressing yourself clearly and effectively with them.

Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes:

  • An important tip to avoid making common mistakes in phrases of time – always use them when presenting a point, argument or solution. Adverbs of time such as “now,” “yet,” and “soon” provide context and help the reader understand the immediacy of the situation.
  • Furthermore, adverbs improve clarity and accuracy in communication, adding layers of meaning to emails and presentations. For example, saying “We wait until later” carries a sense of complacency whereas “We will soon begin…” sounds much more action-oriented.
  • Finally, adverbs can help shape reader expectations; a simple “earlier this week” easily narrows down the timeline of events for readers who may have missed it previously.

With adverbs of time in hand, writing mistakes should be few and far between.

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Learning Adverbs of Time Strategies and Best Practices

Connecting adverbs of time periods to real-world events are essential in helping language learners understand how adverbs of time are used in verbal and written communication.

One effective way to teach adverbs of time periods is to ask language learners to differentiate between past, present, and future adverbs with hands-on activities. For example, ask the language learners to sort adverb cards into three different piles – one for past adverbs, one for present adverbs, and one for future adverbs. Another great learning tool is using visual aids such as pictures or videos to show what actions happened in the past, what actions are happening now and what could happen in the future.

Understanding a phrase of time can be so important because not only do they help us talk about when things have happened or will happen but also provide temporal context which allows us to make better decisions in our daily lives.

Tip 1: Study a List

Why it helps

Learning the various forms and using them properly in speaking and writing is easier than it seems with daily practice. A list can simplify this process and make it seem less daunting.

Daily Life Example

The best way to learn to use adverbs correctly is to study a list of adverbs and their usages, then practice writing sentences with them.

Tip 2: Practice Reading

Why it helps

Exposing yourself to adverbs hidden between other words can help you identify them faster and with more accuracy.

Daily Life Example

To ensure that you understand how frequently an adverb should be used it’s important to practice reading with them as well, so the meanings become clear. So keep a book of your choice on hand and highlight every adverb you come across.

Tip 3: Everyday Conversations

Why it helps

By applying the adverbs of time exercise to everyday conversations, you’ll find these words easy to remember and use in the near future.

Daily Life Example

Take your time when speaking to people. Take note of the adverbs they use, and try and repeat them back in different contexts. You can also do this from the comfort of home by recording yourself or using an AI assistant.

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Adverbs of Time Frequently Asked Questions

Now is certainly one of the adverbs of time. It serves as a signal to when something should happen, such as how we are living in the now and being present in each moment. Yet, it also denotes an action that has not yet happened but is expected, like saying now I’m going to do my homework.
Finally, it can be used to reference an action that has already occurred – last night it rained but now the sun is out. As such, adverbs of time like “now” provide invaluable context for storytelling, conversation and understanding our experiences.

Knowing how to use adverbs of time is an important part of writing! Adverbs are words that modify verbs to specify when the action will take place. This means using adverbs of time to answer questions of detail and interest in sentences by including information about when something is happening.

As adverbs, they should always come after the main verb, or be placed before it as a modifier of time. For example, someone could say “I already read this book yesterday” to let their audience know that the act was done in the past.

5 o’clock is commonly used to express the time but is not an adverb of time itself, nor is it an adverb of frequency. It refers to a particular point in time and not an interval or duration. These types of adverbs, such as ‘now’, ‘yesterday’, ‘soon’ or ‘tomorrow’, provide detail about how long ago or how much later something has occurred. In this case, 5 o’clock is a convenient way for most people to reference a specific moment in the day without any adverbial nuance.

Monday, along with other days of the week, is not an adverb of time. It does not have an expression of duration or adverbs of time change. These types of adverbs are words that indicate time intervals or how often it happens, such as ‘now’, ‘soon’, and ‘always’.

Although Monday marks the beginning of the week, it does not usually refer to a passing of time in relation to a specific day – it is an exact time period. For example, one cannot say “I went home Monday”, because it suggests that one went home earlier that day. Instead, adverbs such as “the day before yesterday” or “the day after tomorrow” should be used to refer to a certain day in relation to an introductory time phrase.

Adverbs of frequency and adverbs of time tell us that both adverbs can be used to modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Although they have a bit of overlap where they modify the same type of words, adverbs of frequency modify how often something occurs while adverbs of time focus on the timing or duration within which something occurs.

Adverbs of time help the reader understand when a period of time has taken place: either in the past, present, or future. Examples of this time element include “afterwards,” “immediately,” and “already.”

On the other hand, adverbial phrases of frequency indicate how often an action takes place. Common auxiliary verbs in this category include “often,” “usually,” and “rarely.” Thus adverb placement can play a significant role in providing clarity to sentences. Knowing when to use each type of auxiliary verb helps to ensure that your writing is precise and meaningful.

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