Common mistake not often, not very often (seldom. rare, rarely)

Common Grammar Mistake: Using "not often" instead of "seldom, rare, or rarely"


English grammar can be tricky, and it's easy to make mistakes without even realizing it. One common mistake that many people make is using the phrase "not often" when there are more appropriate alternatives available, such as "seldom," "rare," or "rarely." In this blog post, we will explore why using "not often" can be problematic and provide examples of how to correct this mistake.

The Problem with "Not Often"

When we say "not often," we are using a double negative, which can make our sentence confusing or ambiguous. It is advisable to avoid using double negatives whenever possible to maintain clarity in our writing. Instead, we can use adverbs like "seldom," "rare," or "rarely" to express the same meaning more effectively.

Example 1:

Incorrect: I do not often go to the theater.

Correct: I seldom go to the theater.

Example 2:

Incorrect: She does not often eat fast food.

Correct: She rarely eats fast food.

Alternative Adverbs

Let's take a closer look at the alternative adverbs we can use instead of "not often."

  • Seldom: This adverb means "not often" or "rarely." It implies that something happens infrequently or on rare occasions.
  • Rare: This adverb suggests that something happens very infrequently or almost never. It emphasizes the exceptional scarcity of an event.
  • Rarely: This adverb means "not often" or "infrequently." It indicates that something happens on only a few occasions.

Example 3:

Incorrect: He does not often visit his grandparents.

Correct: He seldom visits his grandparents.

Example 4:

Incorrect: The museum is not often open on Mondays.

Correct: The museum is rarely open on Mondays.


Using "not often" is a common mistake that can easily be corrected by using alternative adverbs like "seldom," "rare," or "rarely." By avoiding double negatives, we can improve the clarity and effectiveness of our writing.

Note: If you are unsure about your grammar and want to ensure your writing is error-free, you can use a grammar checker, such as Linguix. Linguix can assist in correcting various grammar mistakes and offering suggestions to enhance your writing.

not often, not very often (seldom. rare, rarely) mistake examples

  • Incorrect:
    It is not very often that a hotel exceeds your expectations.

    It is seldom|rare|rarely that a hotel exceeds your expectations.

  • Correct:
    It is rare that a hotel exceeds your expectations.
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