Huddleston and Pullum (2002) divide frequency adjuncts/adverbials into bounding (how many times) and non-bounding (how often). This is similar to Quirk et al's "definite" and "indefinite". I will try to summarise the forms they (Huddleston and Pullum) list because I am confused on where "many times", "a few times", "most days", etc. may fit in.

A) Bounding

  1. Adverb - once and twice. E.g. We met once.
  2. NP - x time(s). E.g. We met three times.
  3. PP - on x occasion(s). E.g. We met on four occasions.

B) Non-bounding

  1. Adverb - often, frequently, usually, regularly, ... E.g. We met often.
  2. NP with each/every + time noun, i.e. each/every day, ... E.g. We met every day.
  3. Bounding adverb + NP/PP, i.e. once a day, once per day, ... E.g. We met once a day.
  4. Idioms - off and on, on and off, ...

Note: first, the examples they give in the bounding category are all numerical (similar to Quirk et al); second, the only quantifiers they discuss in B2 are "each" and "every".

Where do phrases with other quantifiers fit? "Many times" has the x time(s) form of the bounding category, but is synonymous with "often" or "frequently" in the non-bounding category. (We met many times. ≡ We met often/frequently.) The same can be said about "a few times". "Most days" is surely in the non-bounding category, but they have not listed a corresponding form.

Is their list incomplete? Or are these not frequency adjuncts/adverbials?

  • 4
    I wouldn't call them "adjuncts", because that phrase has no commonly-accepted definition; consult your confessor about that. They certainly are quantifiers; CGEL's division seems to be between exact and approximate -- 5 and almost 5. And the grammar is much more complex than you might suspect. Try McCawley 1993 to see about how quantifiers of all kinds should be parsed. Feb 12, 2023 at 0:57
  • 'We met every day last month / during February 2021' is quasi-exact (there could have been two meetings etc on some days ... though Gricean maxims strongly suggest otherwise; one would want 'we met at least once every day last month'). I'm unsure about this subsetting strategem. Feb 12, 2023 at 15:36
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth: If by "I'm unsure about this subsetting strategem" you mean "What real-world problem would be solved by having definitive subcategorisation between bounding and non-bounding frequency adjuncts/adverbials for the specific elements many times, a few times, most days,..." then I totally agree! Jul 12, 2023 at 17:19
  • I'd say the difference is between the numeral and the quantifier-related, as you suggest. Interestingly, though 'once' and 'twice' are bounding, 'once or twice' (idiomatic for 'a small number of times, non-zero') is then not. Mar 8 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


Bounding ~ having finite/defined limits; distinctly quantifiable.

Non-bounding ~ having indefinite/undefined limits; only indistinctly quantifiable

"Once, twice, etc. You know exactly how much/many, etc.

"Many times" has undefined limits -> it could be five, 5,000 or 5 million.

  • Interestingly, quantifiers do not relate to the distinctly quantifiable (denumerable) ... in fact, some are fuzzy (a shedload / tons of). Jul 12, 2023 at 18:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.