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Is it possible to put the time expressions before or after the negative word? Or is there only one way? For example :

The students usually don't like eating fish

The students don't usually like eating fish

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  • The textbook answer is usually to place the adverb right next to the verb you're modifying. Informally, it can go other places. Mar 3 at 15:27
  • 1
    You need "to" in "The students usually don't like to eat fish." The position of "usually" can vary, e.g. if you're contrasting it with something else. There are a lot of existing questions about the placement and use of "usually", if you search.
    – Stuart F
    Mar 3 at 18:26
  • @StuartF like can take to or not.
    – Lambie
    Mar 3 at 21:12

2 Answers 2

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As edited, both "usually don't like" and "don't usually like" are often heard in colloquial English. Google's Ngram Viewer shows them to be of similar frequency in it corpus.

That said, they might have slightly different connotations:

"I usually don't like eating fish." This might be seen as a general observation.

"I don't usually like eating fish." Though it could be general, it might be a preface to a further statement, showing an exception, e.g., "Today, however, the cod was delicious."

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I usually don't like playing cards. Adverbs of frequency precede the verb.

I never, sometimes, frequently don't like playing cards.

HOWEVER, usually and ever can go after the auxiliary:

Some can go after the negative:

  • I don't usually like playing cards.

  • I usually don't like playing cards.

  • I don't ever like playing cards ever. [never becomes ever in negative sentences.]

  • I sometimes like playing cards. [sometimes, usually NO, except as a response.

  • Do you sometimes like playing cards? OR

  • Do you like playing cards sometimes?

  • Yes, I like playing cards sometimes.
    OR

  • Yes, I sometimes like playing cards.

  • No, I do not like sometimes playing cards. [as per context only]

[Please note: this is not everything that can be said about adverbs of frequency\

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