‘Use’ and ‘How Often’ in English. Difference & Examples


If you’re a grammar nerd, you’ve probably heard about the difference between “use” and “how often” in English before. But what does it actually mean to use these terms? Why is there a difference at all? And how can you know which word should be used in a sentence when both are appropriate?

We know you have all these questions in your mind. But if you are still clueless about the answers then you have landed on the right page. Here, we are going to talk about all these things.

Read on to find out!

Use vs. How Often: What is the Difference?

In order to fully understand the difference between “use” and “how often”, it’s useful to first look at the word “use.” In English, this word is used to describe any situation where a particular object is put into a particular place. But that’s not the only use. We will get into that later. But first, let us understand the first application of the word “use” with a few examples:

  • I use my computer at work every day.
  • My brother uses a comb after he shaves every morning.
  • I use my kitchen counter for baking cookies on holidays.
  • We use salt, pepper and various spices in our cooking.

Concept of “Use”

The word “use” can be used as a noun to refer to the specific object being “used” throughout a sentence. It can also be used as an adjective to describe how something is being “used.” In the sentences above, the word “computer”, “comb”, and “kitchen counter” are all being used as nouns. The word “cooking” is also being used as a noun because it refers to an activity that people engage in during their free time.

This leads us to another application of the word ‘use’. We can also apply this word to say that a particular person had the habit of doing something. But it is not to be confused with ‘used to’. We can only put the word ‘use’ when the main verb is in the past tense. For example,

  • Sam did use to visit Jerry back in the college days.
  • Kevin didn’t use to be like this back when I first met him.
  • John never did get use to shaving at home until he went to the boarding school.

Here, as you can see, the main verb is the ‘be’ verb and thus we are putting “use” instead of “used.” Otherwise the sentence can look like this.

  • Jenifer used to take dance classes in Arizona before moving to LA.
  • Hugh Grant used to do theater in New York before acting in Hollywood.
  • I was used to doing my own chores back in my college days.

If you wish to know more about the use and difference between “use” and “used to” then you can refer to our previous post which I have discussed in length on this topic. You can surely have a fair idea about applying them in your writing and speech from that post.

Now, let’s look at the concept of “how often”

Concept of “How Often”

Basically, the word “Often” is an adverb that means ‘many times on different occasions. When it comes to placement, it is just like any other short adverbs as we place it in the front position, or sometimes in the mid position. In this case, it is placed between the subject and the main verb, or sometimes even after the modal verb or first auxiliary verb. This is equally applicable for the ‘be’ verb as the main verb. You can place it in the end position as well. Sounds complicated? Let’s look at some examples:

I often see John playing when I return from school. He must live somewhere near my locality.

  • I love the earlier albums of The Beatles?
  • Do you often listen to their records?
  • Not very often, but yes whenever I get some time from work and other things.

Like I have mentioned above, it is used in the front position as well but is the least common position plus, this application will sound more formal:

  • We used to see him in the park. Often he would go for a walk, then he would go and play with little children there.

One can use “Often” to emphasize something along with “very” or “quite”:

  • I very often see him sitting alone in that café down at 5th street.
  • Jean is old now and she quite often forgets the keys to her apartment.

You can use “how often” to know about the frequency of something:

  • How often do you go to France?
  • About three or four times a year, due to some company business.

Let’s Look at the Usage with Different Parts of Speeches

Usage with Different Parts of Speeches

Used With Verbs

  • “This function happens often.”

(Arises, occurs, happens)

  • “I often dream of becoming an musician, a classical guitarist to be precise.

(Wonder, dream of)

  • “He often goes to that old-age home.”

(Goes, attends)

  • “I need to visit the library more often.”

(Visit, call)

  • “He often appears to be absolutely right about the situation.”

(Appears)

  • “I often exceed his expectations by doing something absolutely great.”

(Exceed)

  • “John often plays alone.”

(Eats, dines, plays)

  • “I often skip my Chemistry classes to play with my friends.”

(Misses, skips)

Used with adjectives

  • “John often sits lonely during dinner time.”

(Alone, lonely)

  • “This street is often crowded during mornings.”

(Busy, crowded)

  • “He is often nervous when performing on stage.”

(Scared, nervous, frightened, anxious)

  • “He is often late for office.”

(Late, early)

  • “Jack is often mad at his wife.”

(Mad, angry)

Examples using “often” or “how often”

There can be no doubt that if you are facing difficulty in understanding the concept of a grammatical phenomenon then examples are your best companion. Now, I am going to list a series of examples using “often” or “how often. Let’s look at them.

  • How often he cleans his room? Once or twice in a year.
  • His payment will be based on how often he plays.
  • He asked the Father how often he should seek forgiveness.
  • But he asked how often his actions made a real difference in my life.
  • How often do big rock starts come on time for their show?
  •  They couldn’t tell it for sure how often the viruses can develop.
  • But how often is this political pressure uplifted from general public?
  • I asked them how often I need to come for repairing.
  • It’s difficult to see how often he visits the place.
  • How often can you get help from someone in such troubled times?
  • They wanted to know how often the library is replenished with new books.
  • The doctor said he cannot be sure as to how often such symptoms occurred.
  • How often does one get such a precious diamond from a place like this?
  • How often are you going to use that machine?
  • He declined to say how often this new law will be implied.
  • How often does each player earn from endorsements?
  • How often can you see a bird this rare?
  • The main uncertainty was how often such cases occur.
  • How often do we need to take the medicine?

More Examples using “often” or “how often”

Let’s look at some other examples:

  • How often can a student see their teacher smoking?
  • But how often can you find things going in your favor?
  • It is difficult to check how often he is meeting her secretly.
  • How often do you take me for granted?
  • But how often can you be this insensitive?
  • And how often will they cheer for the opponent team?
  • How often can you see a bunch of haiku poets together?
  • You would be surprised how often they commit such crime.
  • Ask some old man how often he is faced with such adversities in his life.
  • Equally surprising was how often people turn away from their own words.
  • How often the adverse effect of the medicine jeopardized the entire treatment procedure.
  • I was surprised to find just how often the computer is infected by the same virus.
  • How often can you see him doing the right job?
  • How often do you get to see him relax about something?
  • How often can you find such fine quality cheese?
  • Just how often the program becomes successful.
  • How often our teams win a match?
  • The important part is the total calories of your body, not how often you eat or what you eat.
  • I mean tell me, how often can you score such a high score in a video game?

Conclusion

Both “use to” and “how often” are used in every day conversation. Understanding the concept of these two can be very helpful. I hope the above discussion was helpful for you to clear your confusion.

So, if you have any further queries about this topic then feel free to mention them in the comments section.

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