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frequently/usually Options
navi
Posted: Tuesday, October 2, 2018 11:35:06 PM
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1) I frequently can't see my son.
2) I can't frequently see my son.

Any difference between '1' and '2'?

=============================================

3) I usually can't see my son.
4) I can't usually can't see my son.

Any difference between '3' and '4'?

Gratefully,
Navi
pjharvey
Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 2:34:24 AM
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1) and 3) sound wrong to me. However, also 2) and 4) sound somewhat unusual to my non-native ears. I am curious about what native speakers say.
BobShilling
Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 3:01:56 AM
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I'd say only #1 and #3
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 3:46:03 AM

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I think there is a small difference in 1 & 2 - though 2 & 4 sound strange to me. I think #4 is mis-typed.

The difference is not really concerning 'frequently' or 'usually' - but is in what exactly in the sentence is made negative. The difference is what is modified by 'not'. It changes the 'stress' and 'attitude' (in my mind).

There are actually three/four possibilities for each example.

1a) Frequently, I can't see my son./I frequently can't see my son. - Very often, I am prevented from seeing my son. ("not" is more connected to 'see') It sounds negative, stressing the prevention.
1b) I can't frequently see my son. - I can see my son occasionally, but not frequently. ("not" is more connected to 'frequently') It sounds a little more positive - I can see him, but not frequently.
1c) I can't see my son frequently. - To me this is more neutral. The "not" seems to refer to the whole verb-phrase "see my son frequently". I can see him, but I can't see him frequently.

3a) Usually, I can't see my son./I usually can't see my son. - Most of the time, I am prevented from seeing my son. It is negative, stressing the 'not see'.
3b) I can't usually see my son. - this sounds odd with the contraction. It could be used with different stress. "I can (not usually) see my son" - I can see him but it is a rare occurrence. It would probably be differently phrased, though. "I can only occasionally see my son." This is slightly less negative, stressing the 'not usually'.
3c) I can't see my son, usually. This sounds very much like (3a)


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
navi
Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 4:07:24 AM
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Thank you all very much, especially Dragonspeaker, who once again provides a wonderful and detailed reply!

I had mistyped '4'. Sorry about that. Dragonspeaker read my mind and corrected it as it was supposed to be corrected!

4) I can't usually see my son.

Respectfully,
Navi
BobShilling
Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 4:14:39 AM
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Location: Beroun, Stredocesky, Czech Republic
navi wrote:
Dragonspeaker, who once again provides a wonderful and detailed reply!


Applause
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 4:30:12 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 30,140
Neurons: 176,780
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Hope123
Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 2:22:56 PM

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Drag0nspeaker wrote:


Wonderful gif, Drago! I'm going to steal it if I figure out how!

And yes, Drago has a great knowledge of English and spends a lot of time helping learners. (He's also a fair and even-tempered all round good guy! Now you need another gif, Drago?)

The past is to be respected/acknowledged, not worshipped. It is in our future we will find our greatness. Pierre Trudeau
BobShilling
Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 5:39:17 PM
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Joined: 4/1/2018
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Neurons: 3,474
Location: Beroun, Stredocesky, Czech Republic
Hope123 wrote:
He's also a fair and even-tempered all round good guy!

Applause
navi
Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2018 1:49:11 AM
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Joined: 5/16/2014
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I'd like to ask a follow question here.

Does this one work at all:

5) I can't see my son usually. (Note the absence of comma before 'usually')

It sounds strange to me. For some reason, I get the feeling that it means

5a) I can't see my son in the usual way.

I don't know if that is possible though. Could 'usually' mean 'in the usual way'?

Gratefully,
Navi
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2018 9:56:40 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 30,140
Neurons: 176,780
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hi!
I'm ignoring the other comments, or I will not be able to fit my head through the door.

It's not grammatically wrong - but when I typed it, it 'automatically' seemed to need the comma.

I did not think of it really, but you are right, I think.
It definitely sounds quite 'strange'.

My 'logic' is this (based on 'conventions' and 'the way things normally sound' - not on concrete rules):

I usually can't see my son.
I can't usually see my son.
Usually, I can't see my son.
I can't see my son, usually.
In all four, the 'usualness' seems to affect the ability - 'can' or 'can see'.
I don't usually have the ability or authority to see him.
I don't have the ability, usually.

I can't see my son usually. - Here "usually" is directly connected to the verb-phrase "see my son" - so it is the seeing which is unusual in some way.

This makes it ambiguous at least - it MAY mean that the seeing is unusual because I don't see him often.
But it MAY also mean that the seeing is unusual because I see him upside-down and in several shades of green.

************
I think that it is MUCH more common that 'usually' means 'commonly', 'regularly', most of the time'.
Usually the other meaning is covered by "normally" or "in the usual way".

EDITED to add:
I had a brief search around.
There were a couple of mentions of contrasts between what people "see usually" and what they "see in illusion" (under drugs).
In these cases, the ambiguity doesn't really matter - What you see 'in the usual manner' is also what you see 'most of the time'.

i think you could safely say that "usually" at the end of a clause with no commas is "so rare as to be almost unused". You can never say 'never', but it's close sometimes.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
navi
Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2018 2:37:50 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 5/16/2014
Posts: 349
Neurons: 3,280
Another wonderful reply from Dragonspeaker!

Thank you so very very much!

Respectfully,
Navi
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