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How to talk about your routine

Wouldn't it be great if you could always stick to your ideal daily/weekly/monthly routine? Imagine being able to get everything done in the time that you want, and having extra time to dedicate to your friends, family, pets and hobbies...sounds great right? But then, life happens. Now, I can't give you the magic recipe to avoid life's surprises, but I can give you the tools to talk about your routine (or lack of routine) in English!

*For more specific grammar information on all of these tenses, check out this post.


When we talk about our usual routine, we use the present simple, often with adverbs of frequency like always, sometimes, never, etc.

I usually work out in the morning before work.

She rarely eats fast food.

Do you often work late?

Be careful with strong adverbs like always and never, you probably don't always/never do something, but almost always/never do something.


But what happens when our routine changes? How can we talk about these expected (or unexpected) events that permanently or temporarily change our usual routine? In these situations, we often use the present continuous or the present perfect continuous, with their due adverbs of time like lately, recently, this week/month etc.

Lately, I haven't been working out in the mornings because I don't have much time.

She's eating more fast food these days because she is travelling a lot for work.

You must be tired! You have been working late almost every night this week!


Our third and final situation is when you are creating (or trying to create) new habits. To talk about our habits we often use the grammar forms "be used to" and "get used to". Today we're going to look at how to use this form in the present simple and continuous to talk about our routine, or new routine habits.

To talk about something that is (or isn't yet) a normal part of your routine, we use the present simple for of "be used to" (just like how you use the present simple to talk about your normal routine).

Notice the following sentence structure for this tense:

Subject + "be used to" + verb(ing)/noun + object

I am used to my school (I'm familiar with it).

She isn't used to working nights (it's not something she usually does).

We're used to eating dinner late (it's our normal routine).

Don't let the verb+ing fool you, the above sentences are in the present simple (note that the verb "to be" is conjugated in the simple form. To talk about a new routine or something that we want to become a habit, we use the form "get used to". Take a look at how it changes from "be used to":

Notice the following sentence structure for this tense:

Subject + "getting used to" + verb(ing)/noun + object

I'm getting used to driving on mountain roads.

(It's something new for me that will eventually become a habit)

He isn't getting used to his new job.

(He isn't adapting well to his new responsibilities, colleagues, boss, etc.)

I'm getting used to my new computer.

(It's very different from the last one and I'm still learning to use it)


So there you have it, a short guide on how to talk about your daily routine. Remember:

Simple tense = normal routine
Continuous tense = change in routine

Get confused about how to talk about how often you do something? This chart should help!

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