Speak a language frequently!


Can someone speak a language [color=red]frequently?

How does it sound to you?

1- She speaks [color=red]frequent English.


I like your first idea better, Tom.

With the adverb: She speaks English frequently.



She speaks English frequently.: Does it mean often or almost always? May it mean habitually?

These different versions I have taken from my dictionaries, Amy! :shock:


Hi Tom

I wouldn’t classify frequent(ly) as habitual(ly). “Often” sounds about right.

I didn’t rule out using an adjective, Tom. I like this sentence better with the adverb.

Out of curiousity:

  1. Were the 2 dictionary sentences exactly the same as the two you wrote here?
  2. If the sentences came straight from your dictionary, what made you decide to post the question?


Hi Tom,

To me the balance sounds better if you say: She frequently speaks English. That suggests that it is not unusual for her to speak English because she’s quite familiar with the language.


No, Amy; the sentences were mine, but the different meanings of the word 'frequent’ were from dictionaries. By the way, discussing many things from books say Michael Swan’s Practical English Usage and Advanced Learner’s Dictionary is nothing but more grist to my mill. Books tell what should be and moderators tell what is! So, I find the latter more practical.

Now, I would like to discuss something more on the usage of frequent. Alan has already taken the words from my mouth. I was always with the idea that a language is spoken FLUENTLY, but recently got to know that it is also spoken FREQUENTLY. Upon checking the meaning of the word frequently I met with three words, i.e. habitually, often and almost always. It means that if a person speaks English frequently it is no guarantee that he or she also speaks it fluently. Maybe he/ she speaks broken English frequently. What I really wanted to ask from my first question was that if I could assume from the sentence ‘She speaks English frequently’—that she speaks English most of the time or on most occasions. Or was it incomplete? It should read as: ‘She speaks English frequently when she is with her college friends’. Now this sentence seems easier to me to understand. Without the later part of the sentence the use of frequently seemed vague to me, i.e. how frequently?

I also wanted to ask (apparently which I did not) if speaking English frequently shows that a person is quite familiar with the language. Alan advises that it does.

So, could I request that some light be put on the difference between?

1- She speaks English fluently.(She is fluent because she is familiar)
2- She speaks Englsih frequently…(She is frequent because she is familiar)

Many, many and many thanks to both of you( Alan and Amy) :smiley:


Hi Tom

Well, theoretically you could also say “She frequently speaks broken English.” I mean, anything’s possible

But, as Alan mentioned, saying “She frequently speaks English” (or “She speaks English frequently” ;)) tends to suggest a solid familiarity with English.

So, yes, even with no other context, you’d be justified in assuming that her English must also be reasonably fluent.

The adverbs of frequency are somewhat subjective. How often is often? How often is sometimes? These words are not precise. Just about the only common adverb of frequency that’s precise is never (unless the person lies to you… :lol:). Even the word always is open to interpretation. These words can only give you a general idea and nothing more.

But, never fear, Tom! It’s often possible to get further information during the course of the conversation (or text). :wink: