Common Spanish adverbs of frequency you need to know

Common Spanish adverbs of frequency you need to know

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated November 4, 2022

Do you study Spanish online every week? Do you text your best friend frequently? Do you brush your teeth daily? Perhaps you study Spanish daily (hooray!), text your best friend weekly, and brush your teeth monthly (hmmm your dentist might want to have a word). In Spanish conversation, it’s important to feel comfortable talking about your habits. Describing yourself is one way to make new friends. In order to talk about how often you do something, you will need Spanish adverbs. Today, Alison is going to help you learn some common Spanish adverbs of frequency.

Spanish adverbs review

First, let’s review adverbs. An adverb is a modifier word. It alters a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. In English, the most recognizable adverbs are those that end in –ly such as quickly. Today we are using retired American track and field star Jackie Joyner Kersee to learn about Spanish adverbs. She was an Olympian in the 1980s and 1990s and one of the best athletes of all time. Using statements about Jackie, let’s look at all three types of adverbs underlined here. Notice how the adverb goes before or after the word that it modifies. 

  • Modifying a verb: Jackie Joyner-Kersee corrió rápidamente. – Jackie Joyner-Kersee ran quickly. 
  • Modifying an adverb: Corrió tan rápido que ganó seis medallas olímpicas. – She ran so quickly that she won six Olympic medals. 
  • Modifying an adjective: El uniforme que usó en Sports Illustrated era de color rojo brillante. – The jersey she wore in Sports Illustrated was bright red.

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Spanish adverbs of frequency

In particular, adverbs of frequency are the words we use to answer the question “How often?” The Jackie Joyner Kersee statements below will answer “how often” questions in Spanish. How often did Jackie practise? How often did she miss training? How often did she win medals? 

  • Jackie practicaba siempre. – Jackie always practised.
  • Jackie nunca se perdió un día de entrenamiento. – Jackie never missed a training day.
  • Jackie a veces ganaba medallas olímpicas. – Jackie sometimes won Olympic medals.

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To use them properly, it’s a good idea to understand Spanish adverbs of frequency by their amount of emphasis. Here I have broken down common Spanish adverbs of frequency into percentages based on how often the statement is true.

100% of the time (every time)

  • Jackie siempre corría rápido. – Jackie always ran fast.
  • Jackie entrenaba constantemente. – Jackie trained constantly.
  • Ella entrenaba a diario. – She trained daily. 
  • Ella trabajó duro cada día. – She worked hard every day.

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85% of the time (most of the time)

  • Jackie sonrió con frecuencia. – Jackie frequently smiled.
  • Jackie ganaba frecuentemente el salto de longitud. – Jackie frequently won the long jump.
  • Jackie casi siempre estaba orgullosa de sí misma. – Jackie was almost always proud of herself.

55% of the time (more than half of the time, often but without emphasis)

  • Jackie vestía con frecuencia de rojo. – Jackie frequently wore red.
  • Ella participó en heptatlón muchas veces. – She participated in heptathlon many times.
  • A menudo animaba a las niñas a hacer deporte. – She often encouraged young girls to do sport.
  • Su atletismo impresionaba mucho a los espectadores. – Her athleticism often impressed viewers.
  • Ella normalmente/generalmente/típicamente/regulartmente/usualmente comía alimentos saludables. – She normally/generally/typically/regularly/usually ate healthy food.

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40% of the time (occasionally)

  • Jackie a veces no ganaba. Jackie sometimes did not win.
  • Jackie de vez en cuando parecía cansada. Jackie occasionally looked tired.
  • En ocasiones se cayó después de la carrera.. On occasion she fell down after the race.

<20% of the time (seldom)

  • Unas cuantas veces Jackie pareció triste. – A few times Jackie appeared sad.
  • Rara vez corría lento. – She rarely ran slowly.
  • Pocas veces llegaba al último lugar. – She seldom came in last place.
  • Apenas descalificada. – She scarcely ever disqualified.
  • Casi nunca se enfadaba. – She hardly ever got angry.

0% of the time (never)

  • Jackie nunca se rindió. – Jackie never gave up.

Jackie Joyner Kersee will always be a hero of mine. I wish we all had the work ethic of a superstar athlete! Her career can teach us a lot about determination. For language learners like those of us reading this blog, it would be best if we studied constantemente (constantly) instead of rara vez (rarely). 

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