Key Adverbs of Time in English to Remember

by Johnny Jacks
In today’s lesson, we will guide you through the usage, placement, and structures related to adverbs of time in English. Read the article and practice the attached exercise to gain an understanding of this essential knowledge!

What defines an adverb of time, and how many types exist?

Adverbs of time in English, used to describe the timing of actions and events in a sentence, come in three forms: definite time, indefinite time, and a period of time.

For instance:

  • Adverbs of definite time: yesterday morning, last night.
  • Adverbs of indefinite time: before, after, then, soon, early, first.
  • Adverbs of time: for six years, since 2010, 2 hours ago.
  • Specific types of adverbs of time will be discussed in the following section.

Classification of Adverbs of Time in English

As mentioned, adverbs of time are categorized into three types, each with distinct characteristics that need clear differentiation:

Adverbs of Definite Time:

  • This category is further divided based on the tense of the verb in the sentence: present, past, and future.

Adverbs Describing Time in the Past:

  • In the past tense, commonly used definite adverbs of time include: yesterday, last, and in + specific times like morning, afternoon, and night.

Examples:

  • Yesterday morning
  • Yesterday afternoon
  • Last night
  • Last month
  • Last week/weekend
  • Last year
  • Today
  • In + year in the past (e.g., in 2010)

Sample sentences:

      • We visited our relatives yesterday afternoon.
      • I went to the cinema with my husband last weekend.
      • Today, we met our teacher to review our presentation.

Adverbs Describing Time in the Present

Similarly, adverbs of time in the present tense include:

  • On + day of the week
  • On + day/month
  • Today
  • In + session of the day/season of the year/month: On…

Examples:

  • On Monday, we learn English with Ms. Linda.
  • In summer, my family goes to the beach.

Adverbs of Time in the Future

Next, tonight, tomorrow are common adverbs in the future tense indicating upcoming time.

  • Tonight: tonight
  • Tomorrow/Next day: Tomorrow
  • Tomorrow morning: Tomorrow morning
  • Tomorrow afternoon: Tomorrow afternoon
  • Next week/month/year/decade/century: Week/month/year/decade/next century/next.

Examples:

  • I promise I will do my homework tomorrow.
  • I will change my plan next month.

Adverbs of Indefinite Time

Similarly, adverbs of indefinite time are also categorized into three basic tenses in English.

Past Indefinite Adverbs of Time:

  • Before: before, earlier
  • After = Afterward: after that
  • Then: at that time, then
  • Soon: soon
  • Previously: before
  • Just: just recently

Examples:

  • She came home after 5 p.m and went to the market afterward.
  • I just heard some compliments on your skills.

Adverbs in the Present Tense:

Here are some adverbs used in the present simple, continuous, and perfect tenses.

  • Now: now/today
  • Today: Today
  • At the moment/at the present: Present
  • Right now: Right now
  • Already: Already
  • Just: Just recently
  • Yet: Not yet
  • Recently/Lately: Recently
  • Before: Before

Examples:

  • Today, people tend to read books online.
  • She is making a birthday cake for her husband at the moment.
  • Recently, tourists have been attracted by the new service there.

Adverbs in the Future Tense:

  • Soon:
  • Later: Later (expresses a period of time in the future or time after the time of speaking)

Examples:

  • I hope I will see you again in the next interview.
  • I admire my best friend who later became a teacher.

Some Special Adverbs of Time Are Indefinite:

In addition to adverbs that are conjugated in three tenses, some special adverbs can be used in most tenses:

  • Early: early (than expected), at the very beginning of an event/time
  • Earlier: earlier than the time in question, earlier.

The adverbs describe the sequence: first, secondly, next, then, finally, … or words without the ending “-LY” such as first, second, third,…

  • Late: late
  • Last: the last time
  • Still: still
  • Formerly: before
  • Eventually: at last
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Examples:

  • You should arrive at the interview early.
  • First, you need to fill out your personal information on the form.
  • He comes second in terms of IQ.
  • Many young people prefer watching movies in the theater late at night.
  • Some of them were formerly disobedient.

Adverbs Describing a Period of Time

This type of word is often used in the present perfect tense and is employed with the structures listed below:

Number Structure with Adverbs of Time Example
1 For + period: within… She will stay in the US for a month.
2 Since + timeline: since… Since the last 2 years, we have not met John.
3 Time interval + ago: how long ago We talked with each other a week ago in a supermarket.
4 All day/week/month/year: all day, whole week,… She has been training with the leader all day.
5 From…..to/till/until: from…until I worked in this company from 2019 to 2020.
6 By + timeline: at (time) By this time next week, I will be visiting Thailand.
7 Till/Until/Not….until + date/clause/place/noun: until I will not stay here until Monday.
8 During: transparent The weather in the North of Vietnam is extremely cold during winter.
9 Print + time period: in… In four weeks, I can finish a book.
10 While + time period Throughout her first term, she stayed up late.
11 (Not) anymore/any longer I cannot stand living without goals anymore/any longer.
12 No longer She no longer lives here.
13 Yet Have you done your homework yet?
14 Still

Summary of Common Adverbs of Time

Through the classification section, you have encountered numerous adverbs of time used in sentences. However, among these adverbs, certain types are utilized most frequently and are commonly featured in tests and exercises. goodheathplan.com is here to help you compile a list of the most common time adverbs in the table below:

Number Classify Adverb of Time
1 Determined Time Afterward
2 Eventually
3 Lately
4 Now
5 Recently
6 Soon
7 Then
8 Today
9 Tomorrow
10 At once
11 Till
12 Before
13 Immediately
14 Yet
15 Still
16 Already
17 Period For + period
18 All day
19 Since + time
20 Ever since
21 Frequency Never
22 Rarely
23 Seldom
24 Occasionally
25 Sometimes
26 Often
27 Generally
28 Usually
29 Always
30 Monthly
31 Weekly
32 Every + time
33 Number of times

Placement of Adverbs of Time

To use adverbs of time fluently, understanding their position in a sentence and the appropriate usage context is essential.

The Position of Adverbs of Time in the Sentence

In a sentence, adverbs of time typically occupy three positions: the beginning, middle, and end, each expressing different meanings.

For definite adverbs of time:

  • Placed at the beginning of a sentence to emphasize the importance of timing.
  • Positioned in the middle of a sentence to enhance formality, often used in narrative sentences.
  • Placed at the end of a sentence to emphasize the mentioned thing.

Adverbs of time at the end of a sentence:

Emphasize the duration of ongoing actions.

Adverbs of time before the main verb:

Positioned before the main verb but after the auxiliary verb (be, have, may, & must) to indicate how often an action occurs.

In negative sentences:

Some adverbs like “yet” come at the end of the sentence, or “still” comes before the main verb and after auxiliary verbs like “to be,” “have,” “might,” or “will.”

Note: In addition to the four positions mentioned above, adverbs of time are also classified based on the level of strong and weak positions. Adverbs of frequency at the beginning or end of a sentence are typically considered strong, while others are categorized as weak.

Order of Adverbs of Time in a Sentence

In the case of a sentence containing two or more adverbs, it’s important to observe the correct order of time adverbs, which follows the pattern:

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(1) time – (2) frequency – (3) time

For example:

Case: (1) time – (2) frequency

  • Example: I work (1) for seven hours (2) from Monday to Saturdays.

Case: (2) frequency – (3) time

  • Example: The newspaper has been published (2) every Monday (3) since last month.

Case: (1) time – (3) time

  • Example: I will work as a freelancer (1) for several months starting (3) from this September.

Case: (1) time – (2) frequency – (3) time

  • Example: She worked in a non-government office (1) for two days (2) every two weeks (3) last year.

How to Use Adverbs of Time

After understanding the positions, it’s crucial to grasp the usage of adverbs corresponding to each position.

How to Use Adverbs of Time in Sentences:

Adverbs of time have distinct uses that align with different meanings. Specifically, they serve four purposes corresponding to detailed adverb groups:

  1. Adverbs placed at the end:
    • Often used with imperative sentences and phrases with “Till.”
    • Example: Eventually, he came. (Finally he came)
    • Example: Then we went home. (Then we go home)
    • With compound tenses, adverbs like afterwards, eventually, lately, now, and soon can come after the auxiliary verb.
    • Example: We’ll be there soon. (We’ll be there soon)
  2. Adverbs such as Before, Early, Immediately, and Late:
    • Stand at the end of the clause.
    • Example: He came late.
    • Example: I’ll go immediately.
    • When used as conjunctions, Before and Immediately are placed at the beginning of the clause.
    • Example: Immediately the rain stops, we’ll set out.
  3. Since and Ever Since:
    • Used with perfect tenses.
    • Since can come after an auxiliary verb or in the last position after a verb in the negative or interrogative. Ever since (adverb) is in the last position.
    • Example: He’s been in bed since his accident/since he broke his leg.
  4. Yet and Still (Adverbs of Time):
    • Yet is usually placed after a verb or object.
    • Example: He hasn’t finished (his breakfast) yet.
    • If the object consists of a large number of words, yet can be placed before the verb.
    • Example: He hasn’t yet applied for the job we told him about.
    • Still is placed after the verb “be” and before other verbs.
    • Example: She is still in bed.
    • Yet means (now, now) and is used mainly with negative or interrogative.
    • Still emphasizes the continuing action, mainly used with the interrogative but can also be used with the negative to emphasize the continuity of a negative action.
    • Example: He still doesn’t understand.
    • Example: He doesn’t understand yet.

How to Ask Questions About Time

In questions concerning time, certain words like “When – How long” are frequently used as question words. The question structure for each word appears as follows:

When/How long + auxiliary verb + S + V main +…?

Example:

  • When does the show take place?
    • The show takes place tonight.
  • How long have you worked for this company?
    • I have worked for this company for 10 years.

Adverbs of Time in Passive Sentences

In passive sentence structures, adverbs of time are positioned before or after “by.” In the grammar of passive sentences, the phrase “by + O” precedes adverbs of time.

Example:

  • Active: She arranges the books on the shelf every weekend.
  • Passive: The books are arranged on the shelf by her every weekend.

Adverbs of Time in Reported Sentences (Indirect)

As a general rule, when transitioning from direct to indirect speech or narration, adjustments to time and place are necessary. Consequently, adverbs of time in reported (indirect) sentences must be modified to maintain correct grammar. The table below, accompanied by detailed examples, facilitates a better understanding of this transformation.

Adverbs in Direct Sentences Adverbs in Indirect Sentences
today that day
yesterday the day before
The day before yesterday two days before
Tomorrow the next/following day
The day after tomorrow in two days’ time/ two days later
Next week/month/year the following week/month/year
Last week/month/year the previous week/month/year
ago before
this (for time) that
this/that (adjectives) the
here there
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Examples:

“I saw him today,” she said.

She said that she had seen him that day.

“I met her the day before yesterday,” he said.

He said that he had met her two days before.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said.

He said that he would see me the next day.

“I was on holiday last week,” he told us.

He told us that he had been on holiday the previous week.

“I saw her a week ago,” he said.

He said he had seen her a week before.

“Do you like this shirt?” he asked.

He asked if I liked the shirt.

“He said, ‘I live here.'”

He told me he lived there.

Exercises on Adverbs of Time

Having shared the knowledge above, we have partially helped you understand the meaning and usage of adverbs to describe time. Now, let’s practice some simple exercises with Goodheathplan below!

Exercise 1: Identify the adverbs of time in the following sentences

  1. I went to the doctor yesterday.
  2. Rahul will go to his hometown tomorrow.
  3. Sandeep completed his graduation last year.
  4. I am going to the market now.
  5. I was roaming in the market all day.
  6. I searched about you for a year.
  7. I am doing social work since 1985.
  8. Rahul never pays his rent on time.
  9. It often rains in Bangalore.
  10. You should always be polite.
  11. Manoj seldom talks.
  12. I rarely read Hindi newspapers.
  13. I completed my work earlier.
  14. I will visit my grandparents soon.
  15. I got my payment recently.

Lesson 2: Complete the sentences by choosing the correct adverb of time

  1. I saw him ………………….. A. yesterday B. tomorrow
  2. I …………………. your father tomorrow. A. see B. am seeing
  3. My plane ………………… tomorrow. A. leaves B. left
  4. I haven’t seen her ………………….. Monday. A. since B. for
  5. I went there ……………………. A. yesterday B. tomorrow
  6. I saw him ………………….. morning. A. yesterday B. in yesterday
  7. I haven’t seen her …………………. A. yesterday B. today
  8. I haven’t seen her since ………………… A. yesterday B. tomorrow
  9. I …………………. it first thing tomorrow. A. did B. will do C. have done
  10. I am seeing him …………………… morning. A. tomorrow B. yesterday
  11. I might see her ………………… A. tomorrow B. yesterday

Exercise 3: Fill in the appropriate definite time adverbs

  1. I go to the School _______.
  2. I visit my hometown _______.
  3. A newspaper arrives _________.
  4. There is a ________ flight from Delhi to Mumbai.
  5. I visit my grandparents’ _________.
  6. Some news magazines are published _______ while some are published ___________.
  7. The financial state of farmers depends on the ________ crop yield.

Lesson 4: Fill in the Indefinite Adverb of Time Correctly

  1. Rohan rarely completes his homework.
  2. My son never drinks milk.
  3. Rohit frequently falls ill.
  4. I seldom eat outside.
  5. Rohit occasionally visits my house.
  6. Mohini is yet to appear for her exams.

Answers to Adverbs of Time Exercise

Lesson 1:

  1. yesterday
  2. tomorrow
  3. last year
  4. now
  5. all day
  6. for a year
  7. since 1985
  8. on time
  9. often
  10. always
  11. seldom
  12. rarely
  13. earlier
  14. soon
  15. recently

Lesson 2:

  1. A
  2. B
  3. A
  4. A
  5. A
  6. A
  7. B
  8. A
  9. B
  10. A
  11. A

Lesson 3:

  1. daily
  2. weekly
  3. everyday
  4. daily
  5. weekly
  6. fortnightly
  7. yearly

Lesson 4:

  1. rarely
  2. never
  3. frequently
  4. seldom
  5. occasionally
  6. yet

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Through the above article, GoodHeathPlan.com has helped you get an overview of the usage and meaning of adverbs of time. Besides, the exercises that we synthesized will also help you quickly review this entire grammar section. Practice and review often to remember the knowledge!

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