Describing habits and daily routines

Both habits and routines are regular and repeated actions, but habits happen with little or no conscious thought, whereas routines require a higher degree of intention and effort. We use the present simple to describe our habits and daily routines.

With enough time and the right techniques, routines can turn into habits, but it is not an automatic, unconscious process. Being able to talk in English about how you spend your day or week is a great place to get started with English conversations.

There are some set phrases for describing routines that you can learn by heart and then just change the information to suit your own lifestyle.

Learn these 20 simple phrases to describe your Daily habits

Verb in the present simple Adverb of frequency

  1. I get up at 7am every day.
  2. I usually have coffee and toast/cereal/fruit for breakfast.
  3. I take a shower. (have a bath)
  4. I start work at 8.30. (leave the house)
  5. I work from home.
  6. I drive/cycle/walk/catch the bus to work/school.
  7. I’m usually at work/school until 3pm.
  8. pick the kids up from school.
  9. My husband is a better cook, so he usually makes dinner and I clean up.
  10. My partner and I take turns cooking the evening meal.
  11. I call my mom every Sunday.
  12. He goes to the gym twice a week.
  13. I never forget to take the trash out.
  14. I like to take a bath on weekends.
  15. I always brush my teeth and wash my face before I go to bed.
  16. I play the guitar twice a week.
  17. I normally do the laundry on Saturdays.
  18. I sometimes watch my favorite TV program in the evening.
  19. I often go shopping on Sundays.
  20. I usually do some stretching before I go to bed.
  21. I tend to go to bed around 11pm, but sometimes I stay up late.

Useful words for describing routines

We use some adverbs of frequency to describe how frequently we do an activity. Those ‘frequency words’ are great for making your sentence sound natural and describing how regularly you do something.

FrequencyAdverb of FrequencyExample Sentence
100%alwaysalways go to bed before 11 p.m.
90%usuallyusually have cereal for breakfast.
80%normally / generallynormally go to the gym.
70%often* / frequentlyoften surf the internet.
50%sometimessometimes forget my wife’s birthday.
30%occasionallyoccasionally eat junk food.
10%seldomseldom read the newspaper.
5%hardly ever / rarelyhardly ever drink alcohol.
0%nevernever swim in the sea.

A typical structure is:

I + frequency word + activity + time/day

For example, ‘I normally go shopping on Sundays.’

Writing challenge

What about YOUR routine/habits?

Which of those sentences applies to YOUR life? Can you change any of the information so that it’s true for YOU?

For example:

Maybe you go swimming twice a week instead of playing tennis. Or maybe you have eggs for breakfast or you do your housework on Tuesdays. Maybe you get a taxi to work or maybe your husband always cooks. Think about your own routine with those 20 structures.