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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > Sometimes    



Hi everyone! 
Here īs a question from a native speaker... I īm having difficulty with the frequency adverb "sometimes":  Due to their native language, Italian, my students insist on answering a question like: 
" How often do you go shopping?", with the answer: "I sometimes go shopping".   
As a native speaker, it sounds like something is missing but I can īt think of how to explain "WHY". I īve thought of saying that we should use "occasionally",  and that "sometimes" is better used after a question like: "Do you play football?"...."Yes, I sometimes play football".  They are only at a level of Trinity 4/5 so maybe I īm just being too demanding!!!?  LOL

19 Feb 2014      


I have the same problem with my students who are all translating from their mother tongue - French.  I usually tell them that the answer to "how often" is an expression of frequency, like: once a week; etc and not an adverb of frequency.  

I have always accepted one word answers from my students because I believe in teaching them everyday English.  For example:

Do you play football?  Yes, sometimes.

19 Feb 2014     



I don īt think you īre too demanding. If you stop correcting them, most of them won īt pick it up at all later on. Once they have developed a "bad habit" itīs often very difficult to get rid of it... 



PS. Your explanations seem very good. Itīs a question of time.... and theyīll get accustomed to it. 

19 Feb 2014     


We use "sometimes" at the beginning and at the end of a sentence. It can be used in the middle but it sounds better at the beginning or the end.

19 Feb 2014     

United States

To add a little here, I think of "sometimes" as telling "when" more than "how often" (but only loosely speaking). It does so in a very vague way, of course, but that can clarify it a little. It deals more with the fact that the event happens (There are times that I go shopping, but they don īt happen frequently), and that it is sporadic, rather than intending to give the frequency.
Now, a question about Italian, to see if I can better understand the confusion. Are "a volte" and "occasionalmente" interchangeable? I īm guessing that they would answer "a volte" in Italian. If so, then it seems that "a volte" and "sometimes" aren īt exactly the same.
As with many things, this is a very fine point of difference.

19 Feb 2014     


Thanks everyone for your most helpful replies!

19 Feb 2014