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Speaking about Habits

Important Expressions and Phrases

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There are a number of ways to speak about your habits in English. First and foremost, it's important to remember that when you speak about current habits use the present simple. The present simple is used for what we do every day, or on a regular basis. This guide to speaking about habits quickly reviews the basics and then moves on to more advanced expressions and idioms used to speak about acquiring habit, as well as eliminating habits.

Adverbs of Frequency: How Often

The easiest way to speak about habits is to use adverbs of frequency to express how often we do something. If you have a habit, place these expressions directly before the main verb. Here are adverbs of frequency from most often to least often.

always
usually
often
sometimes
occasionally
rarely
hardly ever
never

I often play tennis on Saturdays.
She sometimes goes to the theater.
We rarely eat out in expensive restaurants.
Jack occasionally eats fish.

Acquiring Habits

The following phrases are used when someone first acquires a new habit. 'Get used to doing' and other phrases are often used in the present continuous as it expresses that a person is in the process of becoming used to something.:

Get used to doing

Jane is getting used to working nights.
Peter had a hard time getting used to living in LA.

Get into the habit of doing

I first got into the habit of working early in the morning when I lived in New York.
Jane is getting into the habit of using the internet to help out in class.

Develop the habit of doing

Susan has recently developed the habit of repeating herself.
Peter is developing an annoying habit of smoking.

Speaking About Current Habits

The following phrases are used to speak current habits. Generally, we use the present simple with these expressions. However, the past simple is also used to speak about past habits.

Be in the habit of doing

I'm in the habit of getting up early on Saturdays.
Doug was in the habit of taking the bus to work when he lived in Chicago.

Be accustomed to doing

Mary is accustomed to waiting in line.
They aren't accustomed to working so hard.

Be used to doing

Tim is used to speaking French every day.
Are you used to your job yet?

Be a person of habit

This phrase is used to express that someone tends to do the same things rather than seeking out new experiences.

I'd like to move, but I'm a creature of habit.
Alison is creature of habit. I doubt she'll want to change jobs.

Stopping Habits

The following phrases and idiomatic expressions are used to state that someone has stopped a habit, or working towards stoping a habit. These expressions are almost always used when speaking about habits that are bad for people, rather than work or healthy habits.

Break the habit

I'm trying to break the habit of smoking.
Jack needs to break the habit of watching TV every evening.

Kick the habit

It's been two months since I kicked the habit!
Have you ever tried to kick the habit of smoking?

Get out of the habit

The phrase 'get out of the habit' is often used with healthy habits that we don't keep up.

Unfortunately, I'm getting out of the habit of working out every day.
Unfortunately, she's getting out of the habit of catching the bus every morning.

Habits That We Can't Break

The final phrases are used to speak about things that we would like to stop doing, but are unable to stop. These are known as addictions which are usually dangerous. However, we sometimes use these phrase to joke about not being able to stop a particular activity that might not be dangerous, but that we love to enjoy.

Be addicted to something

She needs help as she's addicted to drinking.
Tim is addicted to Facebook. He needs some help!

Be a (noun) addict

John hates to admit that he is a gossip addict.
The main was a heroin addict.

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