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  1. #1
    Verona_82 is offline Senior Member
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    Default often and usually - which is more frequent?

    Hello,

    My question today isn't very intelligent One of the books I have (Marshall Cavendish Education) suggests the following order of arranging adverbs of indefinite frequency (and expects learners to do so):

    always (100%) - often (100-80%) - usually (80-60%) - sometimes (50-40%) - occasionally (20-10%) - never (0%)

    It's not actually about percentage, but about which adjective implies greater frequency - often or usually. The authors think it's often.

    Another book (Macmillan) claims it's usually that implies greater frequency compared with often. Michael Swan claims nothing, but lists the adjectives in the following order: always -- ever -- usually --normally -- often.. ...and so on.

    It's not that important, but it got me thinking. I suspect it's one of those things some people disagree on.
    I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Thank you.

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    Default Re: often and usually - which is more frequent?

    When usually is used as an adverb of frequency, it suggests a greater frequency than often to me. However, usually can mean in a way that is normal, and it need not imply 'often':

    I go to England about four times a year. I usually drive, but I fly if I have a lot of work to catch up on.

    Incidentally, in that example, 'often' could be used instead of usually, with the same meaning.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: often and usually - which is more frequent?

    I don't think you can put "often" and "usually" in the same category.

    "Usually" implies the number of times you do something a certain way as a proportion of the total number of times you do it.

    "Often" simply refers to how regularly you do it.

    I often eat potatoes for dinner. I usually roast them, but sometimes I bake them.
    He often goes to the cinema. He usually goes to the one in the centre of town.
    They often buy books on the internet. They usually buy them from the Amazon website.

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    Default Re: often and usually - which is more frequent?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    I don't think you can put "often" and "usually" in the same category.
    I think you can put both words in both categories. Context tells us which is implied. I have added versions in red to your examples:

    I often eat potatoes for dinner. I usually roast them, but sometimes I bake them.
    I don't usually eat potatoes for dinner. When I do, I often roast them,
    He often goes to the cinema. He usually goes to the one in the centre of town.
    He usually goes to the theatre rather than the cinema. When he does want to see a film, he often goes to the cinema in the centre of the town.

    I prefer your versions to mine, but I think that mine are natural enough for many people,

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