Again? Talking About Habits

When we get to know someone or they get to know us, or when we learn about someone new, we do so by speaking about habits. Look at the following example.

kim-kardashian-bio-photo habitsKim Kardashian is in the news again. What? Again?! She’s always in the news. Yup. It’s typical for her to seek attention. You can almost always find her face (or backside) on the cover of some magazine. It’s common for her to be on reality TV or in the crowd at some high profile event. It’s her style to wear revealing clothing (or none at all). It’s not her thing to dress modestly or avoid the public eye. You would never see her moving to an isolated farm in the countryside to raise goats. You can be sure that she will be the one in the middle of some scandal or other.

Here are some of the patterns English speakers use to discuss habits.

  • be typical/not typical for (someone) to (V)
  • be common/not common for (someone) to (V)
  • be/not be (someone’s) style to (V)
  • be/not be (someone’s) habit to (V)
  • S + usually, often, always, rarely, never + verb
  • be rare for (someone) to (V)
  • You can usually find (someone) (-ing)
  • You can be sure (someone) will be the one (…)
  • You would never see (someone) (-ing)

Let’s look at another example:

habits lionel-messi-fc-barcelona-08112015_nyhyfesnq7to1gfcpga3fdw72How can I describe Lionel Messi’s soccer skills? Well, it’s his style to shoot with his left foot. It’s common for him to dribble, keeping the ball close to his body. You would never see him relying on tricks or intimidation to score. It’s not his habit to go across defenders, but rather to control the ball in a tight space to evade them.

We can use the above patterns in questions, too.

A: Is it common for you to go places alone?
B: No. It’s not. I’m someone who never goes anywhere without a friend.
A: Is it your style to stand out in a crowd?
B: You bet. I love for people to notice me.
A: Where can I usually find you on Saturday afternoon?
B: You can usually find me hiking or doing something outside.
A: Is it typical for you to change your appearance often?
B: Not at all. I’ve looked the same for my whole life!

Practice this by describing a famous person you know well. If you don’t mention the person’s name, you can play a guessing game with your friends to try to figure out who each other’s person is!

Example: It’s typical for this person to carry a sword. It’s common for this person to wear black. It would be this person’s style to run into danger rather than away from it. You can usually find this person in cold places. It would be rare for this person to complain about being uncomfortable. This person always acts in a just manner. This person would never appear on the street in real life because he is a fictional character.

Can you guess who it is?

(John Snow from Game of Thrones)