routines-in-english-speaking

English for Conversations about ROUTINES – Questions, Answers, Vocab

Do you have a busy morning, daytime or evening routine? Routines are a popular speaking topic for beginners and more advanced English learners. too. This guide gives you essential vocabulary and tips for talking about routines in natural English.

Questions about everyday routines

  • Do you usually have the same routine every day?
  • How busy are you in the mornings?
  • What is your daily routine?
  • What is the busiest part of your day?
  • Do you think having a daily routine is important?
  • What is your favourite part of the day? 

Describing your morning routine

Set the scene

  • Well, on most weekday mornings, I do tend to be quite busy.
  • Well, I’m pretty busy most of the time, but weekday mornings are especially hectic.
  • Mornings for me are super-hectic!

Explain details

  • I’m normally up at seven (on) most weekday mornings as those are my work days.
  • Once I’m up, I’ll usually drag myself out of bed and wash my face.
  • Then it’s time to put the kettle on and make some tea, which is just what I need to wake myself up.
  • Then I have to wake my kids up, and then get them fed and ready for school.
  • After that, I’ll most likely make myself some breakfast.
  • And usually I’ll put the radio on ‘cos I like to listen to the radio while I’m having my breakfast.
  • Once breakfast’s over with, I get showered and dressed
  • Then I grab my stuff and leave the house by 7.40
  • And then just it’s a short walk to the station, where I wait for my train.

Finish up

  • So, yeah, it’s a bit of a mad rush most mornings, but somehow, I usually manage to get to work on time!

Bring it together

Well, on most weekday mornings, I do tend to be quite busy. I’m normally up at seven on most weekday mornings as those are my work days. Once I’m up, I’ll usually drag myself out of bed and wash my face. Then it’s time to put the kettle on and make some tea, which is just what I need to wake myself up. Once breakfast’s over with, I get showered and dressed. Then I grab my stuff and leave the house by 7.40. So, yeah, it’s a bit of a mad rush most mornings, but somehow I usually manage to get to work on time!

Language focus – Routine verb tenses and signals for speaking

When we talk about daily and weekly routines, we usually use present simple tense:

  • I get up at six.
  • I go to bed a bit later at weekends.
  • I don’t have breakfast if I don’t have time.

But native English speakers sometimes use WILL or -‘LL too:

  • I’ll often get up at six.
  • I’ll maybe go to bed a bit later at weekends.
  • I won’t have breakfast if I don’t have time.

When we describe our routines, we often use “signals”, such as: first, then, after that, once that’s done, and finally, etc to connect different routine actions:

  • First, I’ll start making the coffee, and then, I’ll usually do some toast and eggs. Once that’s done, I’ll have breakfast and get showered and dressed.

General ways to say “I’m busy”

  • I always have loads to do on weekdays.
  • I always find myself running around doing different things.
  • My mornings generally very hectic.
  • It’s always a mad rush in the morning.
  • I’m always rushing around.
  • My feet barely touch the ground.

Talking about routine slots and times

Parts of the day

  • First thing (in the morning) – I always have coffee first thing in the morning
  • dawn / at the crack of dawn (coll) = very early in the morning – “I have to get up at the crack of dawn.”
  • Mid-morning
  • Midday / noon
  • Lunchtime
  • Early / late afternoon
  • Early / late evening
  • Night

Parts of the week

  • the start of the week
  • the first half of the week
  • midweek / the middle of the week
  • weekdays
  • weekday mornings / afternoons / evenings
  • weekends
  • Saturday / Sunday mornings / afternoons / evenings

Language focus – prepositions + routine times for speaking

We use different prepositions to express days, weeks, clock times, seasons, etc:

  • I get up at 6 o’clock
  • On Sundays / on Sunday mornings, I usually have a lie-in.
  • ..in the morning / in the afternoon / in the evening
  • ..at midday / at lunchtime / at night
  • ..at weekends.. (UK)
  • ..on weekends.. (US)

Routines: key vocabulary and collocations

Different ways of saying “routine”

  • programme
  • schedule

Common routine phrases

  • do everyday tasks
  • do daily chores
  • do jobs – have things/jobs to do
  • set up a schedule
  • stick to my routine
  • get distracted
  • get waylaid

Different kinds of routine

  • Daily routine / day-to-day routine / everyday routine
  • Weekly schedule / schedule for the week
  • Work routine
  • Shopping routine
  • Workout routine / programme

Routine action + noun collocations

  • wake up early
  • get up right away
  • have breakfast
  • have a lie-in
  • have a shower / get showered
  • get dressed
  • do the / some shopping
  • do the / some housework
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