English has many rules that make learning correct spelling and grammar easier. Sometimes, words like comparative adverbs break these rules, causing confusing irregularities. It is helpful to memorize which adverbs are irregular so you can speak and write correctly.
It is correct to say “more often” when one thing happens more regularly than another. Use this adverb of frequency phrase to let others know how often something occurs or needs to occur compared to another without being specific. For example, one may say, “I bike more often than I drive.”
This article will explain what “more often” means, how you use it, when you use it, when not to use it, and what you can use instead. The end of the article will also review adverbs.
What Does “More Often” Mean?
When you say “more often,” you mean one thing happens more frequently than another thing. You are giving others a clear picture of how many times something happens without being too specific.
The word “more” means a larger or additional amount of something. For example, you might ask, “May I please have more ice cream?” to request an additional dessert.
When you say “more often,” the word “more” becomes comparative. The meaning stays the same, but you are comparing the frequency of one thing with something else (source).
The word “often” is an adverb of frequency that means many times or a lot of the time (source). We use adverbs of frequency to describe how many times something happens. Look at the table provided below to see how “often” compares with other adverbs of frequency.
|Adverb of Frequency
|I always shower after I go swimming in the public pool.
|I usually eat breakfast every morning.
|I generally don’t go out if I am not feeling well.
|I often watch movies with my friends.
|I sometimes get a ride to school if it is raining.
|I occasionally buy toothpaste when I go grocery shopping.
|I seldom eat chips when I watch a movie with my friends.
|I rarely ride my bike in the wintertime.
|I almost never go camping.
|I never buy candy when I go to the store.
When you use “more” and “often” together, you tell others that something happens more than something else. Based on the chart above, you might say:
- In the winter, I watch movies with my friends more often than I ride my bike.
How Do You Use “More Often”?
When you use “more often,” you must always use it with an adjective or adverb to compare the frequency of something. You may only say one of the things but imply the comparison.
For example, you might say, “I need to eat vegetables more often.” You imply the comparison by saying you do not eat vegetables as often as you should.
Comparative and Superlative Adverbs
Many comparative adverbs use suffixes – endings added to a word – to make the comparison more specific. Usually, you add “er” and “est” as suffixes.
Look at the chart below to see how these suffixes change the meaning of a word.
|Leonard is fast; his 100-meter time was 30 seconds. Theresa is faster because her time was 28 seconds. Jason is the fastest. His time was 20 seconds!
|My penlight is bright enough to see a little in the dark, but my flashlight is brighter; I can see a few feet ahead of me. Our spotlight is brightest, and we can see everything around us.
|The water in my fish tank is clear, so I can see my fish. The water in Jose’s fish tank is clearer than mine, but Judith’s fish tank is the clearest; there is never anything floating in the water.
Other comparative adverbs use more and most ahead of the adverb instead of the suffixes above. For example, you might say, “Dylan answered most intelligently of all the students,” to express that he was the best at answering a question. “Often” is an adverb that uses “more” and “most” ahead of the adverb.
Using “Often” with “More” and “Most”
As discussed above, “often” means many times or a lot of the time. “More often” implies that one thing happens more times than something else in a period. When you say “most often,” you express that something happens more frequently than anything else.
Look at the examples below for a better understanding.
- I often go to the gym.
In this example, you mean that you go to the gym regularly. Perhaps you might go five times a week. Saying you go “often” gives others information about what you do without being too specific.
- I go to the gym more often than my friends.
When you put “more” in front of “often,” it becomes a comparison. This example makes it clear that you go to the gym more times than your friends (the comparison is between your activity and that of your friends); however, it is not clear if you go once a month or five times a week.
- Of all my friends, I go to the gym most often.
Adding “most” creates a comparison. This example does not give a specific picture of how many times you go but helps others understand that you go to the gym more often than anyone else.
Using “More Often” for More Specific Comparison
Using “more often” is a better option than “a lot” or “many times” because it is a more specific comparison. It gives people a clear picture of how much something happens in relation to another thing.
- I play basketball more often than I eat breakfast.
- I work more often than I play.
- I go on a run more often than I eat junk food.
The above examples are not specific enough to tell you exactly how many times they occur. They are, however, specific enough to tell others that the first activity happens more times than the second.
The context of each activity also gives more information about how much the first activity happens. In the first example, we can assume the speaker eats breakfast daily, meaning they play basketball at least twice a day.
When Can You Use “More Often”?
Sometimes you need to give others an idea of how often something happens without being too specific. You might do this when you don’t know a person well, you do not want to brag or make others feel bad, you want to provide information about someone’s character, or you are giving instructions.
When we go to parties or celebrations, we meet new people. We might not want to give them too much detail about our lives and habits because we don’t know who they are. Giving too much information can be dangerous.
If someone you are meeting for the first time asks if you travel for work often, you might say you travel more often than others. This way, you don’t tell a stranger how often your house is empty.
Similarly, you may not want to let a friend’s parent know how many vegetables you eat because your friend is always in trouble for not eating theirs. Instead, you could say, “I eat vegetables more often than junk food.”
Using the comparative “more often” also gives more information about people. Sometimes people ask us about what other people are like. Using comparisons is a good way to tell about people without being too specific.
- Jill plays hockey more often than she bakes.
- Angus eats meat more often than he drinks water.
- Mustafa sleeps more often than he is awake.
Using “more often” is helpful when you want to give someone instructions for a job. It lets others know what is most important for them to accomplish in their day.
For example, if you say someone needs to communicate with clients more often than their team, it is clear that clients take priority. Employees know they must spend most of their day working with clients rather than colleagues.
When Not to Use “More Often”
“More often” is a comparison, so you do not use it when you are not making a comparison, telling exactly how many times something happens, or providing a vague picture of how many times something happens.
If you are not making a comparison to give a picture of how many times something happens, “more often” is not a good choice. You wouldn’t say, “I drink milk more often” on its own because it is not a comparison. It needs context to be effective. You might say, “I drink milk frequently” instead.
If you want to give someone a specific picture of how often something happens by sharing details, “more often” is not the best way to do it because it is never clear how many times something happens. Instead, you would need to give detailed information; you might say, “I brush my teeth twice a day,” for example.
If you want to be very vague about how often something happens, “more often” is not a good choice because it is more specific. Instead, you might say that you brush your teeth often or do it regularly.
Using “More Often” in a Full Sentence
Since “more often” is a comparative adverb, when you use it in a sentence, you need to place it close to the verb it is connected to. Usually, we place the comparative after the verb it is modifying (source).
The examples below explain the placement of “more often.” The verbs are in red and the adverbs are in light blue.
- I play video games more often than I do homework.
In this example, more often is connected to the verb “play.” If you put “more often” in front of “play,” the sentence would not be as straightforward and clear. Because you are using a comparative adverb, “more often” is also connected to the verb “do.” It makes the most sense to place it between the verbs for clarity.
- I cook dinner more often than I eat dinner at restaurants.
- Now that I have two children, I do laundry more often than I do dishes.
- I hike more often than I go to the mall.
What Can You Use Instead of “More Often”?
Since “more often” is an adverb that tells about frequency or how many times an action is done, you must use another adverb of frequency to replace it in a sentence. Since “more often” means more times than something else, you must also use an adverb that means more times than something else.
Many adverbs tell frequency, but not as many comparative ones. These are some of the comparative adverbs to replace “more often directly”:
- More frequently
- More times
- More than
The following adverbs tell frequency but cannot replace “more often” with the exact same meaning or context.
- Many times
Adverbs are words and phrases that give more information about verbs, adjectives, adverbs, phrases, or even complete sentences (source).
They often provide information about when something happens, where it takes place, why something is the way it is, or how it happens. One of the easiest ways to recognize an adverb is by the common suffix “-ly” (source).
Not all adverbs end with “-ly,” so knowing the questions they answer is essential. This helps you recognize an adverb in a sentence or when to use one in your own writing.
There are different types of adverbs: adverbs of manner, time, frequency, place, degree, and conjunctive adverbs. Each type of adverb answers when, where, why, or how something is.
The chart below provides examples of each type of adverb (source).
|Adverb of Manner
|An adverb that answers how something happens.
|My dog obediently brought me the package from the front porch.
|Adverb of Time
|An adverb that answers when an event happens.
|Yesterday I was late for class.
|Adverb of Frequency
|An adverb that answers how many times something happens.
|I usually go to bed early so I can wake up early for school.
|Adverb of Place
|An adverb that answers where something happens.
|You can find me wherever you can find books.
|Adverb of Degree
|An adverb that answers the strength or weakness of something.
|It was extremely hot this past summer.
|An adverb connecting two sentences.
|I don’t usually like going to the theater; however, I will make an exception for this movie.
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
For more information on adverbs of time, check out our article: Which Is Correct: “Afterward” or “Afterwards”? In the end, you can read more about the different types of adverbs.
English grammar is complicated at times. Adverbs also have rules and irregularities. Once you learn adverbs and the questions they answer, they are much easier to use and will help your writing and speaking become clear and detailed.