Talking about Habits
Habits are things that we do regularly, from the past to the present time. Sometimes we can use some modals and semi-modals to refer to habits.
What Do We Mean by Habits?
'Habits' are usually hard to give up because they refer to special tendencies or actions that have been done for a long time, so they are considered habitual.
There are modals and semi-modals that can indicate habits. Here is the list:
You can use the modal verb 'would' to refer to past habits, or in other words to refer to actions that you did in the past. Sometimes when the word 'would' is emphasized it implies a sense of annoyance. Check out the examples:
The modal verb 'will' is used to express present habits that are sometimes annoying but not always. When the speaker wants to indicate annoyance they usually add stress to the modal verb 'will.'
Using 'Used to'
We use the semi-modal 'used to' in the 'past tense' to refer to past habits. When we use used to we indicate that the action is no longer true and it is not happening anymore.
Chiara and I
It is important to know that the semi-modal 'used to' is followed by a bare infinitive (infinitive without 'to').
Be Used to and Get Used to
Would or Used to?
When it comes to action verbs it is correct to use either 'would' or 'used to' to refer to past habits. But with state verbs using 'would' is not considered correct and you have to use 'used to.'
Talking about Annoying Habits
The 'Present Continuous' can be used with 'always' (adverb of frequency) to indicate that an action of somebody is really annoying and they do it habitually.
Jack and Sara
Main Verb 'Keep'
The main verb 'keep' can be followed by gerunds (verb + ing). To show that someone does something in a way that annoys people.
We can use past continuous followed by the adverb 'always,' to refer to an act of somebody which was repeated, over and over, in a way that annoyed you.
Main Verb 'Keep': Past Tense
The main verb 'keep' can be used in the past tense followed by a gerund (verb + ing) to refer to things that happened repeatedly in the past in an annoying way.
Using Past Simple or Present Simple
As you know past simple and present simple, both can be used to refer to habits in past and present, especially when they are used with some adverbs, but they can never show that the action is no longer true.
'Tend' can be used to indicate a person has desires to do something and as a result, they do it habitually. Remember the verb after 'tend' has to be an infinitive with 'to'. Check out the examples.
The only modal verbs in this article are 'would' and 'will' and the only semi-modal is 'used to'. Other 'verbs' and 'tenses' are just discussed to help you learn more to talk about habits.
You can use some modal verbs and semi-modal verbs to talk about your habits. You usually talk about your present, past habits. But sometimes you are doing something at the time and you want to express that in the future it will be a habit for you. Check out the table below to get to know the verbs and the tenses they are used in, to talk about habits.
|be used to||✗||✓||✗|
|get used to||✗||✗||✓|