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Oftentimes vs. Often Times

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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Frequently occurring events can also be described as happening often. Can it also be said they are happening oftentimes? While both the words are adverbs, only often can be written before and after a verb. That makes often the modern, smaller, useful and multipurpose word. So, the question remains, why even bother using oftentimes?

With the help of this article, I will illustrate the difference between the two words, highlighting their contextual meanings. At end, I would explain a useful trick to help you utilize them accurately in your writing instantly.

Origin:

Oftentimes originated from late Middle English: extended form of oft-times, influenced by often.

Oftentimes as adverb:

The term oftentimes is used as an adverb in archaic or North American English in the form of often. It means frequently or commonly occurring.

Examples:

Oftentimes, these business ventures net them more than their paychecks from the screen or stage. [Forbes]

A supermajority, typically of two-thirds of shareholders, is oftentimes required to approve a merger or acquisition. [National Post]

The crowd was quite animated, oftentimes cheering and oftentimes yelling out in disgust. [Captain Jack for President, John Jones]

But oftentimes, he has to acknowledge that his life is governed by a double standard. [AV Club]

Oftentimes they lack the resources to hire additional staff to help tackle necessary tasks. [Newsday]

Positive rap, like political rap, is oftentimes not as commercial as gangsta or materialistic rap. [Rap Therapy, Don Elligan]


Use of often times:

Even though, the word often has numerous alternatives, often times is not one of those and if the words ‘often’ and ‘times’ are written separately, and not jointly as shown in above illustrations, they give an entirely different meaning to the sentence.

Examples:

Often, times change faster than the people who live in them.

Oftentimes or often times:

Often is a shortened version of the bigger word oftentimes and they both are adverbs that act as synonym for the word frequently. They have the same mean but often is preferred due to its shortness but often times is not the same as ‘often’ and ‘oftentimes’. Remember, the space between the two words make it completely irrelevant to its definition.


Oftentimes vs. Often Times

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2 Comments
  • murray_l
    Often is an extension of oft. It is definitely not a shortening of oftentimes. Oftentimes is constructed from times added to often - and at one time to oft. Oftentimes is an archaic English word that has lately been taken up in American English. Why Americans have taken up a longer version of a word is their business, but it's wrong to claim that the American long word is primary and the English short word is derivative - not so. As an elder Australian, the American 'oftentimes' sounds quite rustic to me. I hope younger Australians don't adopt this unnecessary and awkward extended version of often. There, I've said it. 
    LikeReplyReport 11 year ago
    • Soulwriter
      Thanks for this view. I do agree as a Brit, that oftentimes indeed sounds archaic and clumsy to a non-American native English speaker. Having said that, both Often and Oftentimes originate from the late 1300s. I would imagine 'oft' was an abbreviation of them both. I'd like to update this article though and I'll certainly include your comments. Keep posted! 
      LikeReplyReport 11 year ago
    • murray_l
      I'm glad you understand how oftentimes sounds awkward to non-Americans. I didn't intend to make that the issue though. Changing American behaviour is beyond us. I just wanted to clarify that 'oftentimes' is not the original and 'often' is not the derivative. It's more or less the other way around - but it's all preceded by 'oft' - which confuses things but doesn't wipe out my point. I have a Shorter OED and checked it before contributing. 
      LikeReplyReport 11 year ago
    • murray_l
      I sometimes google words to see their frequency. Google say it has around 2 billion uses of 'often' vs about 50,000 uses of 'oftentimes'. I wonder if Americans use 'oftentimes' more in speaking and use 'often' more in writing. I will admit a possible bias that I hear their use of 'oftentimes' more clearly than I hear any non-use of 'often'. Maybe they use both, and maybe they have an intent in doing so, but if so, I'm not at all clear on what their distinction is. It is possible they use it to replace 'sometimes' with something more emphatic."Oftentimes she just sat on the verandah staring at the street" conveys something different from "She often sat on the verandah staring at the street" but the distinction is subtle and literary and lost on ordinary speakers who are just picking up habits thoughtlessly. Still I've learned it's hard to stand against the tide of fashion. 
      LikeReplyReport 11 year ago
    • Soulwriter
      too true...
      LikeReplyReport1 year ago
  • Melia Henry
    Melia Henry
    I googled: oftentime or oftentimes; therefore I was dismayed to not get the short answer, but be presented with a scholarly article.
    I oftentimes have to reread articles such as this several times. And it's often my first reading results in curses. So too, with this article. But I am happy to report it more than answered my question. I have started the day off right which often time does not permit. 
    LikeReplyReport 92 years ago
    • Soulwriter
      The English language is indeed a scholarly topic ;)
      LikeReplyReport1 year ago

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