Avverbi di frequenza – Italian adverbs of frequency – Guide and QUIZ

Italian adverbs of frequency answer the question “ogni quanto?” or how often an action takes place

According to the Italian grammar the adverbs of frequency are part of the bigger family of avverbi di tempo. We are going to study them separately because the scope of avverbi di tempo is too wide. Pretty straight forward, the avverbi di frequenza look like the English Adverbs of Frequency, but most of them don’t follow rigid rules about their position inside a sentence.

There are two main groups of adverbs of frequency.

  • Avverbi di frequenza determinati: they describe the frequency of actions in a time frame.

Some adverbs can be drawn from adjectives with the suffix -mente.

  • Annuale ➜ Annualmente (yearly)
  • Mensile ➜ Mensilmente (monthly)
  • Settimanale ➜ Settimanalmente (weekly)
  • Giornale ➜ Giornalmente (daily)

For describing the number of times, the formula is #times + “volte al” + timeframe:

  • Avverbi di frequenza indeterminati: describe the frequency of events not considering a time frame

avverbi di frequenza

The scope of the avverbi di frequenza indeterminati goes from mai (never) to sempre (always). The graphic shoes (arguably) the relative position of each adverb of frequency.

Depending on the use, some adverbs like generalmente or frequentemente are or are not considered avverbi di tempo. When they indicate frequency, they are. Some notes:

  • Mai behaves like some indefinite adjectives and pronouns such as niente or nessuno. Against any apparent logic, the double negative sentence “Non mangio mai il risotto” literally I never don’t eat risotto is correct. The structure of the sentence is non + verb + mai
  • The flexible adverb quasi (almost, nearly) can be used to adjust the adverbs of frequency, both determinati or indeterminati. We can say Faccio colazione quasi ogni giorno or Faccio colazione quasi sempre.
  • The position of the avverbi di frequenza inside a sentence is usually not as rigid as in English. We can use them before any other element of the clause, Qualche volta gioco a calcio, in the middle Gioco qualche volta a calcio or at the bottom Gioco a calcio qualche volta.
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Milanese, graduated in Italian literature a long time ago, I began teaching Italian online in Japan back in 2003. I usually spend winter in Tokyo and go back to Italy when the cherry blossoms shed their petals.

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Lesley Teitelbaum
Lesley Teitelbaum
1 year ago

Riccardo – thank you for this great overview of adverbs of frequency – very helpful to me – i am so very intrigued by your bio – and continually find it fascinating how people are drawn in inexplicable ways to other countries – so happy to know you are sharing your italian language skills with those in Japan and enjoying the cherry blossoms – how wonderful !

6 years ago

Thank you! great job!

Stan Bozarth
Stan Bozarth
9 years ago


Don`t copy text!
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