Vocabulary mavens---often vs. frequently

“I don’t go into town very often” **versus **“I don’t go into town very frequently”

Is there a difference? This site says no, but I figured I’d ask here.

I’m not sure, but I would suspect that there is a slight difference in meaning, and that “frequently” is sometimes more intense than “often” (i.e., “frequently” implies greater frequency than does “often”). For example:

This neighborhood is often a dangerous place to be.
This neighborhood is frequently a dangerous place to be.

Which sounds more ominous? I’d say, the latter.

In any case, if you’re a native English speaker, and you have a lot of patience, then you can answer your own question empirically. Just do a web search for “often” and a web search for “frequently” to gather a set of usage data. Then go through the data, and try mentally replacing the instances of “often” with “frequently” and vice versa. Use your linguistic intuition to think about whether each replacement causes any difference in meaning (albeit most likely slight).

IANALanguage expert, but from my armchair, ‘frequently’ implies some sort of regularity - that is periodic repetition, whereas ‘often’ merely implies a fairly high level of occurrence, perhaps in a disordered pattern.