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Does the phrase "often a times" exist? If so, what is the correct way to use it?

Would the following sentence be correct?

I have seen him loafing about in the streets often a times.

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  • You probably mean oftentimes. thefreedictionary.com/oftentimes. 'Often a times' is not a used expression.
    – user66974
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 8:17
  • Nope. I have a vivid recollection of having read the phrase often a times in a few books. Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 8:19
  • It is not present in Google. Books: books.google.com/ngrams/…. Might be a slang expression or simply a typo.
    – user66974
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 8:23
  • There's "oftentimes" (common) and "often a time" (rarer). Maybe you're conflating the two. Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 10:05

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The Ngram viewer is ignorant of "often a times," but it finds "often at times," currently out-written 100 to 1 by "oftentimes." From Young Children at School in in the Inner City by Barbara Tizard:

It seems likely, too, that disruptive behaviour occurred more often at times not observed,....

But the google finds the phrase about 175K times in websites saying things like

Sports betting often a times has been referred to as gambling where a bet is made in prediction of the outcome of a particular game.

The phrase "often at times" gets only 350K hits. (By way of contrast, "oftentimes" gets 11.7M.) I'm tempted to say that "often a times" is merely a phonetic transcription of "often at times," when the final "t" in "at" gets consumed by the initial "t" in "times."

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    As far as I can tell, "oftentimes" (or "ofttimes") can almost always be replaced by "often", and probably should be. By contrast I would suggest that "often at times" is best used as part of a longer phrase such as "They always went to church at least once a week, more often at times" or "She reported from many countries, often at times of conflict".
    – Henry
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 10:03

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