Guide to Adverbs of Frequency in Japanese
Anna Baffa VolpeGet in touch with me
7 min reading time
Adverbs tell us when, how, why or where the action occurs. They modify a verb, a noun, an adjective, another adverb or a complete sentence. They can also provide us with information on the manner, quantity, frequency, time and place.
Adverbs of frequency gives us information about the time. They specify when or how often some action happens. There are many adverbs in this category in Japanese. In this post we are going to learn some of them, how they work, and when to use them.
How to form an adverb from an adjective
Adjectives in い
For adjectives ending in "i" or "ii" the い is omitted and く is added:
A pleasant person
Adjective in い + noun
Adverb + verb
Adjectives in な
For the adjectives in "na" instead replace the particle な with に (
A quiet place
Adjective in “na” + noun
Adverb + verb
There are also many adverbs that <u>do not derive from adjectives</u>. Those must be studied and learned in their original form.
Adverbs of time
If we take the following series that expresses the
two weeks ago
in two weeks
We can add:
The prefix 毎 which means
The terms that indicate the time: day, week, month, year, times
These 2 together for a new adverb of frequency:
These adverbs are usually placed at the beginning of the sentence:
I wake up early every morning.
In this sentence we have two adverbs: 毎朝 and 早く (
soon) which derives from the adjective in い 早い.
The series with 毎 anticipates the type of adverbs defined by frequency; these adverbs describe how often we do or do not perform a certain action.
The adverb can often be found in several forms:
That person often posts on Twitter.
I often study in the library.
いつも - Always
いつも refers to an action that is always carried out, with constancy and continuity.
I always do sports after class.
普通 and 普段 - Usually
An action that is carried out in general,
usually, is expressed with the adverbs 普通 or 普段, which are often accompanied by the particle は.
I usually walk to school.
What do you usually do after class?
時々 - Sometimes
(時々|ときどき) is used if the actions we perform are not so frequent, actions that we perform sometimes, which we happen to perform, but not with a certain frequency.
I'm probably out all day, studying outside, working outside the home and dining outside, but sometimes I cook at home
たまに - Once in a while
As I proceed, the frequency with which I perform an action decreases and therefore it happens that I occasionally,
once in a while, do something, with the adverb たまに.
Once in a while he goes to a concert.
あまり combined with the negative form of a verb translates
not much and refers to an action that for various reasons we do not happen to perform, except on a few occasions. It also indicates something that we do not like very much:
I don't like milk very much.
I don't do much sport.
めったに - Rarely
When you use めったに it is very rare that you perform the action. It is not excluded that you do that thing, but it is really really rare:
It almost never happens that I get angry.
決して and 絶対 - Never
If we reduce to zero the chances of an action being performed, we find the adverb 決して combined with the negative form of the verb.
The expression 決して is mainly found in a written rather than colloquial form.
I'll never forget it.
We can also find the form 絶対, always in conjunction with a verb in the negative form:
I absolutely can't be late.
In this last example we find the potential form expressed with the verb 出来る in the negative.
The sense of the sentence is that the chances of me being late are zero; it could be an important meeting or an exam which I cannot miss.
In this post we learn some adverbs of frequency in Japanese: from the most frequency (いつも,
always) to the least frequent (決して,
Of course there are many more adverbs in this category. You can subscribe to our newsletter here below to stay always up to date and never miss a new update 👇