Commas With 'Frequently' and 'Infrequently'

We do not typically use a comma to separate the adverbs “frequently” or “infrequently” from the word they modify.

We do not typically use a comma to separate the adverbs “frequently” or “infrequently” from the word they modify.

The answers to these frequently asked questions should help clarify some key points.

When describing a verb, “frequently” and “infrequently” are highly mobile in the clause; thus, we can optionally separate these words from their verbs where commas are also generally unnecessary.

In general, cats need baths infrequently.

1. Commas Are Generally Unnecessary

We do not normally use a comma to separate an adverb of frequency, such as “frequently” or “infrequently”, from the word (verb, adjective, or another adverb) it describes.

We came up with the five most frequently asked questions during a personal interview.

We came up with the five most frequently, asked questions during a personal interview.

While adverbs that describe adjectives or other adverbs must come immediately before the adjective or adverb, there are different options when using “frequently” or “infrequently” to modify a verb.

This disease frequently occurs in younger women.

This disease occurs frequently in younger women.

This disease occurs in younger women frequently.

Adverbs of frequency, however, are often placed before the main verb, between the auxiliary and the main verb, or after the verb to be.

Olivia frequently visits her grandfather at the retirement home.

She has frequently visited us over the years.

Those stories were not infrequently a source of inspiration to literary creators.

Follow the same comma strategy when using similar expressions, like “very frequently”, “more frequently”, “less frequently”, etc.

Plants that get more sunlight need to be watered more frequently.

2. Sentence Structures Where Commas May Be Needed

While a comma before or after these adverbs is frequently unnecessary, there are particular sentence constructions where it may be required. For example, use commas to set off nonessential information (include an expression as a side note).

His meetings, frequently held at the magnificent Aula Magna, were interesting and engaging.

Note that the essential part in the sentence above is “His meetings were impressive and engaging”. By contrast, the phrase “frequently held at...” provides extra information, which can be safely omitted without changing the meaning of the sentence.

You can also use “frequently” at the beginning of a sentence, as a transition or introductory word, to help us move from one thought to the next. In such a situation, the comma after “frequently” is optional.

Frequently, these words are attached at the end of this newsletter for your information.

But add a comma if the adverb is followed by a dependent clause, a question, or a coordinate phrase.

Frequently, if you follow a healthy lifestyle, you will reduce the risk of heart disease.

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