How to Talk About Your Habits in Spanish
Are you looking to form some new habits in Spanish —or in any field of study or area of your life?
Experts say, depending on the habit, it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a new habit. After an average of 66 days, a new behavior becomes automatic.
Keep reading to discover the vocabulary and grammar you need to talk about your general, good, and bad habits in Spanish!
What are Habits?
Habits are actions you perform every day. They result from the large and small decisions you make.
Every habit—good or bad—starts with a psychological pattern called a habit loop, which is a three-part process:
- Reminder: a cue tells your brain to go into automatic mode and triggers a behavior
- Routine: the behavior itself; the action you take
- Reward: the benefit you gain from doing the behavior
Knowing this framework makes it easier to stick to new habits so that you can improve your well-being, work, relationships, and life in general.
How to Say “Habits” in Spanish
According to researchers at Duke University, habits account for about 40% of an individual’s behavior! Here are the main ways to say “habits” in Spanish:
Los hábitos – habits, customs
Los costumbres – customs, habits
Plus, a couple of phrases related to habits:
Una criatura de hábitos – creature of habit
La formación de hábitos – habit formation
Hand-picked for you: 3 Types of Morning Routines in Spanish: Which Is Yours?
4 Ways to Talk about Habits in Spanish
What you repeatedly do forms the person you are, including your ideas, opinions, beliefs, and personality. What do you spend significant time thinking about and doing each day?
Here are the four main ways to discuss your habits in Spanish.
1. Es + habitual / normal / frecuente + infinitive
We use this phrase to speak generally about customs and habits in Spanish. It forms an impersonal sentence where the subject that performs the action is not explicitly expressed.
The verb that expresses the routine action or frequent situation is in the infinitive form. For example:
En India es habitual tomar té chai por la tarde.
In India, people usually have chai tea in the afternoon.
En Latinoamérica es frecuente pasar la Nochebuena en familia.
In Latin America, people normally spend Christmas Eve with family.
2. Lo normal / habitual
To express the same idea, we can also use the Spanish pronoun lo and the adjective normal or habitual + the verb ser in the third-person singular (es). For example:
En mi casa, lo normal es cenar con nuestros celulares apagados.
At my house, we normally turn off our phones at dinner.
En verano lo habitual es pasear en la playa.
In summer, people usually go to the beach.
Sentences with the verb soler (“to tend to”) translate in English to adverbs such as “generally,” “usually,” and “normally.” Unlike the above cases, sentences with soler are not impersonal, so they do require verb conjugation. For example:
Suelo almorzar a las 2 de la tarde.
I usually eat lunch at 2:00 p.m.
Las maestras suelen acostarse pronto.
Teachers tend to go to bed early
Los fines de semana suelo tomar una clase de yoga.
On weekends, I usually take a yoga class.
Mi tía suele leer poesía por la mañana.
My aunt normally reads poetry in the morning.
Pro-Tip: Soler is a “defective” verb. In other words, it’s a verb with an incomplete conjugation. You’ll only find this verb in the present and past imperfect tense, as they are the tenses we use to describe habits in Spanish.
4. Past Imperfect Tense
We use the imperfect tense to talk about past habits in Spanish (“used to”).
Yo solía bailar todas las semanas cuando era joven.
I used to dance every week when I was young.
Tú siempre solías volver de la escuela a las 4 de la tarde.
You always used to return from school at 4:00 p.m.
Cuando era niña, solía preparar sopa con mi mamá.
When I was a girl, I used to make soup with my mom.
Cuando vivía en Londres solía ir al museo sola.
When I lived in London, I used to go to the museum alone.
Bad Habits in Spanish
A bad habit is a negative behavior pattern. A few common examples include procrastination, overeating, and nail-biting. Here are the vocabulary words for “bad habit” in Spanish.
los malos hábitos – bad habits
la mala costumbre – bad habit
el vicio – vice, addiction
la lacra – bad habit
Common Bad Habits
La dilación, la procrastinación – procrastination
Comerse las uñas – to bite one’s nails
Usar palabras vulgares – to use curse words
Chismear – to gossip
Fumar – to smoke
La sobreingesta, la glotonería – overeating
Tomar demasiado – to drink too much
Smoking can be a vice.
Fumar puede ser un vicio.
Vamos a observar si ella se come las uñas o hace otro comportamiento habitual.
We will observe whether she bites her nails or engages in other habitual behavior.
El estrés puede conducir a conductas como fumar, tomar y comer en exceso.
Being under stress can lead to smoking, drinking, and overeating.
La sobrealimentación suele provocar un rápido aumento de peso y obesidad.
Overeating often results in rapid weight gain and obesity.
Good Habits in Spanish
In contrast, a good habit is a positive behavior pattern. Common examples of healthy habits include regular exercise, healthy eating, and meditation. Here are the vocabulary words for “good habits” in Spanish.
un buen hábito
la sana costumbre
los buenos hábitos
las buenas costumbres
Common Good Habits
Hacer ejercicio – to work out, to exercise
Tomar agua – to drink water
Comer saludable – to eat healthily
Leer regularmente – to read regularly
Meditar – to meditate
Dormir suficiente – to get enough sleep
Tengo el hábito nuevo de practicar meditación cada día por media hora en el atardecer.
I have the new habit of practicing meditation for half an hour at sunset each day.
Usualmente como fruta para el desayuno a las 9:00 a.m.
I usually eat fruit for breakfast at 9:00 a.m.
Después de la escuela, siempre voy al parque con mi perro.
After school, I always go to the park with my dog.
¿A qué hora vas a acostarte?
What time do you go to bed?
Leo durante media hora antes de dormir.
I read for half an hour before going to sleep.
Create Healthy Habits!
If you’re self-employed or looking for work, you could submit proposals or applications for half an hour each day. If you’re trying to develop a reading habit, you could read a chapter or a certain number of pages.
If you’re a musician, you could practice your instrument. If you’re a writer, you could journal or work on a chapter, story, or poem. If you’re an artist, you could do some sketching, painting, or sculpting.
If you want to move to a new country, you could do 20 minutes of foreign language study with Duolingo or Memrise. If you want to learn Spanish, you could take an online class with Homeschool Spanish Academy!
Make a Habit of Speaking Spanish
You’ve learned all about habit formation and are now well-versed in talking about habits in Spanish! Any behavior, through regular repetition, eventually becomes automatic or habitual.
Start a new good habit today—speaking in Spanish with a native speaker! Sign up for a free trial class at Homeschool Spanish Academy and engage in a conversation with one of our friendly, certified teachers. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can improve your Spanish skills when you make a habit of practicing regularly.
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