Once in a while

Most Important Level 1

"…once in a while" / "Once in a while…"

Meaning: from time to time; occasionally

Similar Expressions
  • I go fishing once in a while.
  • I go fishing from time to time.
  • Sometimes, I go fishing.
  • I occasionally go fishing.
When do we use it?

Remember that "once" means one time and "a while" is an unspecific period of time.

We use this time expression to show that we do some activity or some action occasionally, but that there is no regular pattern.

If we do something regularly, then we can be more specific.
  • I visit my parents once every three months.
  • We go fishing twice a year.
But if there is no pattern, then we can use the vague expression "once in a while".
  • I visit my parents once in a while.
How do we use it?

We usually this expression with a present tense sentence to show how often we do something.
  • We meet each other once in a while.
  • She comes to my house for dinner once in a while.
  • They play baseball once in a while.
  • We go to the movie theater once in a while.
  • He drinks wine once in a while.
It is also possible to make sentences in the past or future tense.
  • I went there once in a while when I was young.
  • Since I live in New York City now, I'm going to try to visit a museum once in a while.
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