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What are verbs that we can use in a collocation with the noun habit? Particularly, Is using "to grow" correct as in the following example sentence? Is it standard English?

When people can realize that using the machine can be much more time-saving, they will grow a habit to use it eventually.

I saw in Longman Dictionary that the verbs create,form,develop are used and make/get into the habit of doing something are more common patterns but I also saw many times that "growing a habit" is used on the Internet.

  • Grow/create/make a habit, or: I'm turning the constant use of the machine into a habit. In this sentence, it could be replaced for: When people can realize that they can save more time by turning the frequent use of the machine into a habit. – Davyd Jan 3 '17 at 17:18
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    Build, cultivate, inculcate, or nurture might work better than 'grow', to indicate the intention, will & repetition in addition to the continuity required. – bgins Jan 5 '17 at 6:10
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Usually a habit is developed over time, or an action becomes a habit.

If one is not careful, social smoking can become a real smoking habit.

However, the first thing that came to mind with

grow (your) habit

was that, with the legalization of marijuana, one might literally be able to

grow one's habit

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"Grow a habit" is not idiomatic - as you mention, the usual verbs are create, form, and develop; or "get into the habit of...".

Any usage of "grow a habit" that you may have found on the Internet is not standard. I speculate that somebody might use that language in advertising or marketing as a way to stand out and draw your attention.

I would not use that form.

  • Somehow I heard "to grow a habit" but as I said when I looked it up, I could not find any reference. I was wondering ,can we say that it does not sound non-idiomatic irritatingly, but strictly speaking it is wrong OR it does sound non-idiomatic when you hear it at the first sight like a non-native speaker can talk? – Mrt Jan 3 '17 at 17:27
  • I mean is it that common among native speakers? – Mrt Jan 3 '17 at 17:30
  • I'm a native speaker (American) and I have never spoken or heard that phrase. It would just sound weird to me - like a habit was a kind of plant that you were growing. – John Feltz Jan 3 '17 at 17:37
  • I see Thank you.The Internet can be misleading sometimes :) – Mrt Jan 3 '17 at 17:44
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    Am I the only one here who read the question title and immediately thought of the kind of habit nuns wear? – errantlinguist Jan 3 '17 at 21:23
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It's certainly possible to "grow" a habit but I would recommend a number of other verbs instead:

Active:

make
acquire
develop
instill
inculcate
get

Passive:

become
have
is

Somewhat relevant Ngram. Note most of these are past-tense since, presumably, you would have started on the habit in the past.

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    I would think it's worth noting that "inculcate" is not a common English word. – Catija Jan 3 '17 at 19:29
  • @Catija Absolutely -- but you so rarely get to use it in a sentence! :) – Andrew Jan 3 '17 at 19:41
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    I would add "cultivate" to the list. I have heard it used often, and it is similar in meaning to "grow". – Brian Moths Jan 3 '17 at 23:07
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    Inculcate is a great word, but it's worth noting that the subject and object of that verb differ in common usage, whereas all of the others are somewhat reflexive. I develop my own habits. I inculcate habits in others. – Dancrumb Jan 3 '17 at 23:37
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In standard English, one does not grow a habit. But one can grow into a habit, or grow out of it. Google Ngram shows that both phrases have declined substantially from their peaks, though. I was surprised to learn that "grow into a habit" was so much more common than the opposite phrase; I have heard "grow out of the habit" in use much more often.

For your specific situation, however, "grow into the habit" doesn't seem right, as growing into a habit doesn't take voluntary effort whereas using a machine does. I think "habituated" would work better. The contrast between the two can be shown by this sentence:

Since I stopped working, I've grown into the habit of staying up really late, but I'm trying to habituate myself to an earlier bedtime again.

You could also try "grow accustomed to using" instead of "grow the habit of using"*.

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The most direct answer to your question is no. That sentence would be understood - it isn't completely nonsensical - but it certainly isn't standard. I've never once heard a native speaker use it. You are correct that get in the habit or make it a habit are most often used.

Original Sentence:

When people can realize that using the machine can be much more time-saving, they will grow a habit to use it eventually.

Modified Sentences:

1) When people realize that the machine saves them time, they will eventually get in the habit of using it.

2) When people realize that the machine saves them time, they will eventually make a habit of using it.

3) When people realize that the machine saves them time, they will eventually make using it a habit.

4) When people realize that the machine saves them time, using it will eventually become a habit.

I will admit that the first three "patterns" are tricky. Tricky enough that I don't know if I would call them patterns - maybe they're idioms or figures of speech. Using them this way (unless someone can point out a counterexample) applies to the word habit only.

There are other phrases you could use- a person can pick up or fall into or acquire a habit. They could also develop a habit over time. However, for the sentence you asked about, the above examples work best.

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