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Bad Habits, Adjectives and the Simple Present 


everyday grammar
Bad Habits, Adjectives and the Simple Present
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Ed Sheeran’s Bad Habits has been one of the most popular songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and Spotify’s Top Hits.

Every time you come around, you know I can’t say no

Every time the sun goes down, I let you take control

In this week’s Everyday Grammar, we will explore how the song can teach you about how to describe regular or repeated actions and events.

Repeated activities or events

Every is an adjective that is used to describe a repeated activity or event. It shows how often this activity or event happens or is done.

For example, consider the statement:

I wake up at 6am every day.

The repeated action is waking up. The adjective every describes the noun day.

Notice that the verb wake up is in the simple present – a verb form that can be used to describe regular, repeated actions. Although the verb is called the simple present, it does not exactly connect with the present time. It suggests that something often happens or is generally true.

Adjective use and verb form are two important ideas for understanding the grammar behind some of the lines of Ed Sheeran’s song, as we will see.

Bad Habits

A habit is a usual way of behaving. It can be something that a person does often in a regular way.

Bad habits are ways of behaving that are not good. Let’s listen to a few words from Sheeran’s song called Bad Habits.

Every time you come around, you know I can’t say no

Every time the sun goes down, I let you take control

Notice that the adjective every describes the noun time. In this case, time does not mean hours, minutes, or seconds.

Instead, time means an instance of something happening.

Notice that the verbs are in the simple present – you come around, the sun goes down, and so on.

The basic idea of the words is the following structure:

Every time something happens, something else happens.

Making Your Own Statements

You can use the basic structure of Sheeran’s words to make your own statements about habits or things that are generally true.

For example, a person who does not like grammar might say,

Every time I open a grammar book, I fall asleep.

A person who likes grammar might say,

Every time I open a grammar book, my heart fills with joy.

When you are listening to music or reading in English, pay careful attention to how the speakers or writers describe repeated actions. Take note of how they use adjectives such as every and the simple present verb form.

And remember the following statement:

Every time you have a chance to practice, you should try to make the most of it.

I’m John Russell.

John Russell wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English. Susan Shand was the editor.

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Words in This Story

regular – adj. happening over and over again at the same time or in the same way : occurring every day, week, month, etc.

joy – n. a feeling of great happiness

practice – v. to do something again and again in order to become better at it

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