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How to Describe Your Routine in English

If you’re like most of us, your life has probably been pretty boring over the past year or so. 

But no matter how repetitive and unexciting your day-to-day life has become, it’s still useful to know how to describe it, don’t you think? 

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at describing habits and routines in English. 

Let’s get started!

Common activities

To talk about what you do regularly, you’ll need to know the correct vocabulary for a variety of activities. While we can’t cover everything you might do in a day, here are some common actions that we’ll use in a few examples later. 

SleepWake upGet upGet ready for bedGo to bed
HygieneTake a shower/take a bathWash my faceBrush my teethFloss (my teeth)
ChoresDo the laundryWater the plantsWash the dishes/do the dishesGo grocery shopping
HealthWork out/exerciseGo for a walkStretch Go to the gym
Free timeReadChat with friendsUnwind Watch TV
WorkGet ready for workGo to work/get to workGet off work/leave workStay overtime/do overtime
SchoolGet ready for schoolGo to school/get to schoolGet out of schoolDo my homework
FoodMake breakfast/lunch/dinnerHave/eat breakfast/lunch/dinnerHave dessertHave a snack

Now that we’ve looked at some typical activities, let’s discuss how to talk about them! We’re going to examine three elements of describing a routine: the simple present tense, time expressions, and adverbs of frequency.

The simple present tense

When you’re describing a habit or routine, you should use the simple present tense. That’s because the simple present is used to talk about repeated actions—things that happen again and again. 

Here are some examples for you:

→ I do the family’s laundry every Saturday. 

→ On school days, we have breakfast at 7 a.m.

Time expressions

Often, if you’re describing something you do regularly, you’ll use a time expression to say when you do it. There are lots of ways to express time—here are some common ones: 

Days of the week/the weekend

My friend and I work out together on Mondays. 

→ My husband always goes grocery shopping on the weekend.

Note: Here, “Monday” is plural because the activity happens every week on the same day. You could also say “every,” in which case the day would be singular (e.g., “every Monday”).

Times of day (morning, afternoon, evening, night)

The first thing I do every morning is splash cold water on my face.

→ I like to go for a walk with my dog in the evening. 

Specific times

He tries to leave work at 4 p.m. 

My mom exercises at 10 p.m. most nights.

Before, after, when, etc.

→ My brother and I eat a snack after school. 

→ When I finish my homework, I like to relax.

Every day, every week, etc.

→ I read my favourite blog every day.

→ We go to the swimming pool every week.

Adverbs of frequency

It’s also common to use adverbs of frequency to talk about how often—or frequently—you do an activity. Below, we’ve listed the adverbs of frequency from most to least frequent.

Always (100%)

→ I always take a shower before school. 

Usually (90%)

She usually chats with friends after work. 

Normally/generally (80%)

→ My dad normally makes dinner when he gets home. 

Often/frequently (70%)

→ I often have to stay overtime at work.

Sometimes (50%)

→ We sometimes have dessert after dinner.  

Occasionally (30%)

→ My kids occasionally water the plants, but I usually have to do it.

Seldom (10%)

→ I seldom take a bath—I prefer showers.

Rarely/hardly ever (5%)

→ My wife rarely brings lunch to work; she always buys something.

Never (0%)

→ She never does her homework right after school—she waits until the evening. 

Get in the habit

No matter what your daily habits are, talking about them is great practice! To build up your English skills, try to regularly practice describing your routines using different time expressions and adverbs of frequency. 

Ready for more help? Start learning with the expert coaches at Gabby Academy today.

Andrea is a Gabby Academy coach and education technolgy writer based in Vancouver, Canada.