Thursday, June 23, 2011

ESL Exercise: Common Expression 5

How often do you exercise? I exercise _________________ .
a. four times in a week
b. four times a week
c. four weeks a time
d. four times of a week

Scroll down for the correct answer.

Choice (B) is the correct answer.

I exercise four times a week.

Although choice (A) may seem grammatically correct, it is not commonly used and probably not standard American English. It’s a waste of time to try to rationalize why choice (B) is the correct answer. For fluent English speakers, we just immediately know the correct one because we’ve heard it a million times. We don't pause for two minutes trying to rationalize why we choose the words “four times a week”. The best way for you to learn this is to see or hear it a million times. Okay, maybe not that many times. Here are some examples of sentences using “four times a week”.

"We've been practicing a lot — four times a week," Spc. Ryan Shannon said. "Hopefully it pays off." (Daniel WoolFolk, Watertown Daily Times)

In June 2006, Etihad began flights to Qatar from its home base Abu Dhabi, flying four times a week.
(Al Bawaba)

Raina stayed, becoming a fixture in the gym, working out four times a week. (Stephen Montemayor, Shawnee Dispatch)

“Ben Smith has been covering sports in Fort Wayne sicne 1986. His columns appear four times a week.” (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette)

“You certainly wouldn't have time to play tennis four times a week, or go to yoga twice a week once you have spent every spare moment you have after work washing, ironing and cleaning or driving the kids around.” (Helena Frith Powell, The Telegraph)

“I was eating fast food four times a week, you name it—extra-large fries, double McChicken sandwich.” (Scott Jurek)

Its creator, Graeme Alexander, said golfers needed to spend about three to five minutes with the device three to four times a week. (Bill Pennington, New York Times)

Needless to say, you may also use other numbers in the same syntax:
- three times a week
- twice a week
- ten times a week

You may also use other units in the same syntax:
- four times a month
- four times a year
- four times a day

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Copyright: © 2011. This document is the sole property of Amadeo Constanzo. You may use this article for free on your web site, blog, or other publication if and only if you include this entire copyright notice including the following links and statement. Other free teachings from Amadeo Constanzo can be found at and

Keywords: TOEFL, ESL exercises, English, grammar, phrase, common expression, CUNY, Kingsborough, Hunter, Baruch, CCNY, Queensborough, Brooklyn College, BMCC

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