time and sequencing adverbs

Time and sequencing adverbs are crucial elements in language that enable us to express the temporal relationships between events and the order in which they occur. These adverbs play a fundamental role in organizing our thoughts, narratives, and descriptions. By using adverbs such as ‘first,’ ‘then,’ ‘after that,’ and ‘now,’ we can convey a sense of chronology, provide clarity, and create a coherent flow of information. They help us structure our ideas, guide our listeners or readers through a series of events, and enhance the overall comprehension of our messages. Time and sequencing adverbs are essential tools that enable effective communication and storytelling.

Here are some examples of time and sequencing adverbs that can be used to modify clauses and sentences:

Time Adverbs:

Sequencing Adverbs:

Firstly, preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Next, mix the flour and sugar in a bowl.
Then, add the eggs to the mixture.
Finally, bake the mixture in the oven for 30 minutes.

These adverbs help provide more context about when an action is taking place (time adverbs) or the order in which multiple actions are taking place (sequencing adverbs). They can be very useful in making your writing clearer and more organized.

There are a few overlapping points in the category of ADVERBS as modifiers at A2 in the English Grammar Profile.

Point 25:

SEQUENCING: a limited range of adverbs and adverb phrases (‘first’, ‘then’, ‘after that’) to order segments of discourse.

Point 33:

time and sequencing adverbs to modify clauses and sentences.

The EGP examples for point 33 need to be looked at to get more details:

  • Yesterday I went shopping and bought some clothes. (B1 past simple ordering events)
  • First, we had dinner at my house and after we went to the pub. . (‘and after’ …should be a2?)
  • I just heard about your accident. (point 36 in adverbs)
  • often eat it at weekends. (point 29 in adverbs or is it the adverb prepositional ‘at weekends’)

Point 36:

limited range of adverbs (‘yesterday’, ‘just’, ‘now’, ‘already’,) to refer to the timing of an event

now‘ is an adverb that refers to the timing of an event.  For example:

A boss like that? Now I am green with envy.


If we look at the English Grammar Profile examples for point 36 we see clashing for present perfect points with adverbs.  Making it a bit hard to decide if a phrase combining both is a marker of A2 or B1 proficiency.

Note:  ‘weekend’ is A1 in the EVP

Next weekend we’re going to see some friends.

A1 learner example:
At the weekends she goes to visit her parents.



First, she made me think about the future.

Arabic female level 3 writing class.


I sleep just one hourand then I take a shower.

Arabic male level 3 writing class.


After that, we are going to England and other countries in Europe.

Thai male level 5 grammar class.



Yesterday I had a problem with my brother.

male Mexico B1


Do you practise any sport now to keep fit?

male Spain B1

Collocates of ‘yesterday‘ as a time adverb followed by a comma in the MOVIE corpus:

yesterday_RT ,

1 SAW 80 2 CAME 74 3 TODAY 68 4 SINCE 49 5 WENT 45 6 YESTERDAY 43 7 UNTIL 32 8 CALLED 32 9 MET 30 10 BORN 23

I called you yesterday.


The most common collocates of ‘just‘ as an adverb don’t seem to indicate timing of an event.  Some suggest ‘limiting’ similar to ‘only’.

1 MINUTE 10261 66192 2 RELAX 4393 18092 3 WONDERING 2078 4 PLAIN 1073 5 CHECKING 942 6 PASSING 926 7 CURIOUS 922 8 SEC 695 3191 9 IGNORE 601 10 BEGUN 484 11 FINISHING 342 12 ASSUMED 330 13 POPPED 266 1431 14 MISUNDERSTANDING 237 15 FORMALITY 142 16 TEASING 134 17 PRECAUTION 130 18 NOD 118 19 ADMIRING 114 20 STARED 109

Most of the examples of ‘just + P.P.’, for example ‘begun’, are used with the present perfect which is B1.  The past form ‘Began’ is quite rare, and is still hard to describe whether it refers to timing (a short time ago) for sure.  For example:

I don’t know.
I just began to feel so sad.

The following example is quite clearly about timing because of ‘that moment … when‘:

So I‘ve been trying to figure out that moment in Persuasion

 when Wentworth and Anne just began to stop hating each other.


listen to these examples

The last example suggests that the change in Wentworth and Anne’s feelings towards each other happened not long ago from the perspective of the speaker.

A search in iWeb corpus for * * now_R * *

1 . NOW, I 17156

And now I know you‘re a liar.


In this context, “now” indicates that the speaker has recently come to the realization or has just discovered that the person they are addressing is a liar. It implies a change from a previous state or understanding, where the speaker might not have known or believed that the person was a liar. So, the sentence could be interpreted as “At this present moment, I have come to understand or discovered that you’re a liar.”

2 . NOW, THE 14940
3 . NOW, IF 10450
4 . NOW YOU CAN 9237
5 . NOW, YOU 7496
6 . NOW LET’S 6750
7 . NOW FOR THE 5758
8 . NOW, WE 5491
10 , AND NOW IT’S 5181

First, we do a search in iWeb for:  . _MD , * _V and then we put the results through Chat GPT to get endings to our results:

*Note that these are rare in spoken corpora.

  1. FIRST, IT IS important to note.
  2. FIRST, THERE IS a lot of information to consider.
  3. First, you can start by taking small steps.
  4. FIRST, YOU NEED to understand the underlying principles.
  5. FIRST, LET’S discuss the next steps.
  6. FIRST, IT’S crucial to gather all the necessary details.
  7. FIRST, THERE ARE various factors to take into account.
  8. FIRST, YOU HAVE the opportunity to make a difference.
  9. SECOND, IT IS essential to evaluate the options.
  10. NEXT, YOU WILL receive further guidance.

. Then * * *

  1. THEN THERE’S THE matter that requires our attention.
  2. THEN THERE IS THE possibility of finding a solution.
  3. THEN, YOU CAN proceed with the next steps.
  4. THEN THERE ARE THE various options to consider.
  5. THEN, IN THE next phase, we will analyze the data.
  6. THEN AGAIN, I need to reconsider my decision.
  7. THEN YOU HAVE TO complete the assigned tasks.
  8. THEN, WHEN YOU are ready, we can proceed.
  9. THEN CLICK ON THE link to access the desired information.
  10. THEN YOU NEED TO follow the instructions provided.

. After that * *

  1. AFTER THAT, THE situation became more complicated.
  2. AFTER THAT, YOU can proceed with the next steps.
  3. AFTER THAT, I realized my mistake.
  4. AFTER THAT, IT became clear what needed to be done.
  5. AFTER THAT, WE continued our journey.
  6. AFTER THAT, HE decided to pursue a different path.
  7. AFTER THAT, THEY went their separate ways.
  8. AFTER THAT, YOU CAN proceed with the task.
  9. AFTER THAT TIME, we never saw each other again.
  10. AFTER THAT, SHE became more cautious.

Here is a B2 phrase related to frequency:

OhI like a pint or two myselfnow and then, you knowbut this?


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