How to Talk About Hobbies in English

Talking about hobbies is a topic that could come up in the IELTS test in Part One or Part Two. Interviewers could also bring it up in an interview for college or a job.

But maybe at some stage in your life, you may be expected to talk about it at length.

We rarely talk about our hobbies with people, because we may share the same interests as the people we are friends within our daily lives. So when ESL students are asked to introduce the things they like to do in their free time it may present a small problem.

What do you say?

How do you talk about it?

I want to show you how you can talk about any hobby, interest or free-time activity. And to help you introduce why you like it and ways to describe it.

Let’s get right into it.

 

Questions to Ask Someone About Their Hobbies

 

The first thing you need to understand is the question someone could ask you about your hobbies or interests.

How long have you played this fine instrument?

There are several ways someone could ask you this question so let’s take a look at them.

  • What do you like to do in your free time?
  • Do you have any hobbies?
  • What are your interests?
  • What do you like doing at the weekend?
  • What do you like to do?

 

First, I should tell you I am from England and English people rarely use the word ‘hobbies’. It sounds a little old-fashioned these days. People often use the word ‘interests’ to replace hobbies.

So it could be any of the above questions.

I think these are fairly simple to understand.

 

How to Reply

 

But there is a larger range of ways of replying to these questions.

People usually indulge in their interests in their free time or spare time. This is a time when we are not working or studying. Often it could be at the weekend and in the evenings.

I am interested in painting…

So one by one we can use these phrases like this:

In my free time, I like to…

 

  • In my free time, I like to play football
  • In my free time, I go swimming
  • In my free time, I prefer to read

 

At the weekend I like….

 

  • At the weekend I like to go fishing
  • At the weekend I like cooking
  • At the weekend I like to do the gardening

 

I like to …

 

  • I like to go dancing
  • I like to make wine

 

I enjoy…

 

  • I enjoy drawing
  • I enjoy hiking

 

I am into …

(This means that you like something very much)

  • I am into comics
  • I am into website design
  • I’m into gaming

 

When I have the time, I like to …

 

  • When I have the time, I like to go walking
  • When I have the time, I like to take photographs

 

I’m interested in…

 

  • I’m interested in tropical fish
  • I’m interested in local history

 

Examples of Hobbies

 

Each country has its own culture and therefore the people will have different interests and hobbies. Some of these interests are universal such as playing the piano, going to the gym or drawing. But many others are unique to the country itself.

Cycling is a popular thing to do in England

Below is a selection of typical interests and hobbies in England.

playing the piano

jogging

painting

gardening

cooking

drawing

bowling

making websites

collecting coins

bird watching

hiking

dancing

knitting

making jam

brewing beer

model trains

Exercise

Go through all of these hobbies and interests and look the words up in a dictionary.

Does your country share any of the same hobbies as above?

Make a list of interests that people in your country like to do in their free time. Write a few sentences about each one if you can.

 

Talking About Interests in Detail

 

When we talk about our interests, there are two things we can do.

Describe what the hobby is

And then say why you like it

So, for example, someone who likes football might say something like this:

I like to play football at the weekend with my friends. We have a small club and we get together and play a game of football. Nothing serious just for fun, really.

But we like it because it is good fun and we can all have a laugh together plus it is good exercise and gets us out of the house.

I like to play football with my friends

In the first sentence, the speaker says what the interest is, when he does it and who with. He then goes on further to explain that he and his friends are members of a small local football club.

He says that is it Nothing serious just for fun really — this means that no one takes the football club very seriously. They are not trying to be professional football players. They just want to have some fun.

He then goes on to explain why they do it. He repeats that it is fun and they can all have a laugh together — this is another way to say that it is good fun. Then he mentions that playing football is good exercise — another reason why he plays football.

And lastly he says it gets us out of the house — this means that it is good to leave the house. Staying indoors all day is considered an unhealthy thing to do.

Let’s look at another example.

I am an avid reader and every weekend you can find me with my nose in a book. There is nothing I like better than curling up with a good book in my favourite armchair and losing myself in whatever world the book is set in.

I love reading because I can enter other worlds and meet all these amazing characters. I love seeing all of the scenes play out in my imagination.

This speaker talks about her deep interest in reading.

She says she is an avid reader — this means she loves reading and has a very strong desire for reading.

She goes on to say that every weekend you can find me with my nose in a book — this means that if we were to find her we could see her reading. She also uses the phrase curling up with a good book in my favourite armchair, to describe in more detail her love for reading. She likes to sit in an armchair curled up in a ball so that she is comfortable.

The speaker mentions the world the book is set in because the setting in the book is not like the real world.

She then explains why she likes reading and talks about other worlds, amazing characters and seeing all the scenes play out in her imagination.

This is what you need to do when talking about your hobby or interest.

You need to go into deeper detail of what the interest is and where and when you do this hobby. And are you alone or with friends?

Then talk about why you like it. Try to think of three reasons why you like this special hobby of yours.

Exercise

Using the above examples write a paragraph about your free-time interest.

Go into some detail about what it is.

Tell us the following information:

  • Where do you do it?
  • When do you do it?
  • Who do you do it with?

Finally, think of three reasons why you like this hobby.

You cannot only say because I like it. That is not enough!

Write down all your ideas and then speak it out loud.

 

Adjectives to Describe Hobbies

 

These are some useful adjectives to describe your interest or hobby:

fun

relaxing

quiet

harmless

personal

lifelong

enjoyable

different

interesting

creative

good exercise

outdoor

passionate

intellectual

dangerous

odd

exciting

useful

time-consuming

satisfying

amateur

lucrative

artistic

indoor

I like rock climbing because it is dangerous

Exercise

Go through all the adjectives above and look up any words you don’t know in a dictionary.

Write down the meanings of new words and use these words in sentences of your own.

 

Like Doing vs Like To Do

 

We often use these two phrases when talking about our interests and hobbies. Or to describe things we like to do or things we like doing.

Like + gerund – I like swimming

Like + infinitive – I like to swim

Loosely speaking, you can use either of these expressions. Each one has the same meaning.

 

How to Talk at Length About Your Hobbies

 

If you are asked about your hobbies in the IELTS test for Part Two, then you will have to talk about your hobby or interest at length. The same if you are asked this question in an interview for college or a job interview.

I do pottery at the weekends

You need to think about how to talk about the things you like to do and how to speak for a long time. This is where all the English question words can help you.

Think about the question words what, where, when, why, who and how.

What – I like to paint

Where – in my shed in the garden

When – at the weekend and whenever I have spare time

Why – I just lose myself in the moment, it is very relaxing and time just flies by

Who – by myself it is a very solitary hobby

How often – whenever I can!

 

And then you can put all of this together and it might look like this:

I like to paint in my free time. I can’t paint in the house because my parents say it is too messy, all the paint and oil, so I use the shed in our garden. I can sit in there and no one disturbs me.

I usually paint at the weekend and after school, I like to paint whenever I have some spare time.

I like painting because I can just lose myself in it, I just get lost in the moment and forget time completely. It is very relaxing and time just flies by very quickly.

I like to spend time on my own and paint. I like to be able to think and be quiet. I like to be on my own and think.

I try to paint whenever I can but I have exams coming up so I don’t have as much free time any more. But after my exams, I will probably get back into it.

 

Exercise

Now you try.

Use all the question words and ask yourself questions about your hobby or interest. Interview yourself about your hobby and when you have all the answers put them together into one long talk.

Then recite it out to yourself.

 

Describe Feelings About the Hobby

 

First of all, let’s look at some words we can use to describe how we feel about something in English.

angry

happy

scared

surprised

shy

cold

tired

depressed

confident

cautious

bored

worried

frustrated

sad

embarrassed

satisfied

patient

lonely

comfortable

exhausted

I think you probably know how to use these words to describe general emotional states you might have on different days, but you can also use them when talking about your interests.

Let me show you how.

We played a game of cricket against another local team but we lost terribly. I was kind of angry even though it’s only a game. I just felt frustrated because we had practiced for so long.

 

Our band played live for the first time last week. We were all really nervous, but it went pretty well. I think we were all surprised by how much the crowd liked us.

Our band played live for the first time last week

I get frustrated with my efforts sometimes when I am doing pottery. I look at the results and think it looks terrible but then I remind myself that I am still learning.

 

If I spend too much time on my own, I get lonely so it’s nice to meet the others in our choir and practice two or three times a week.

 

You can use many of the words above to describe how you feel about your hobby and how it makes you feel when you are doing it.

 

Exercise

Try to use all the words above and the examples and make your own sentences.

Describe your feelings about your hobby and how you feel when you are doing it.

 

Describe Opinions About the Hobby

 

Here are some useful phrases you can use to describe your opinion about your interest.

In my opinion…

In my experience…

I believe that…

I am certain/convinced that…

Personally speaking…

In my experience…

I have the feeling that…

I am not sure/certain, but…

It goes without saying that…

Personally, I think…

I don’t know about other people, but I think…

I have no doubt that …

I am sure / I am certain that…

I really believe that…

In my point of view…

As far as I know…

As far as I am concerned…

Some people say…

You can use these to express opinions about your interest.

Let’s look at some examples:

In my opinion, doing yoga is a very good thing to do. It can really help you relax and we all need to do that in modern society.

In my opinion, yoga is very relaxing

Personally speaking, I think that cooking is a very useful hobby. After all, everyone needs to eat and everyone likes to eat delicious food.

 

I really believe that going to the gym can help you live a long and healthy life. As we get older we need to have more strength to do daily things in our life.

 

As far as I’m concerned, doing carpentry is a very rewarding and satisfying hobby. I have made some really beautiful chairs and a bookcase for our home.

 

Exercise

Using the above phrases try to express your opinions about your hobby or interest.

Write them all down and speak them out loud to yourself.

 

Tell a Story

 

One of the best ways you can talk about your interests is to tell a story about them.

This is always very engaging for the reader and it really helps explain why you like this interest and what it is.

Let’s try some examples:

One time I did this painting of some trees. I didn’t think much of it but I entered it into this competition in our town. I didn’t win, but I got an email from someone who wanted to buy it from me, so I was very happy to do that. I felt like a professional artist.

 

Two weeks ago I was doing my morning run. I got to this hill that I usually walk up because I feel too tired at that point to continue running. But I really surprised myself by running right to the top. I felt really proud of myself.

I ran up the hill for the first time

I love cooking but it’s really good if I can cook for a lot of people. I had the opportunity to do this when I invited a lot of my friends to my home for dinner. I made several dishes, and they said everything was really delicious. I was so happy to see them all eat everything.

 

Exercise

Can you tell a story about your interest?

Think of something funny or interesting that happened. No matter how small the story it is always useful to try and tell a story in this situation.

 

Conclusion

 

You could be asked to talk about your hobbies or interests in Part Two of the IELTS speaking test. Or in an interview for college or a job interview.

In this situation, you will need to talk at length about what you like to do in your free time.

The important points to remember are:

  • To talk about the hobby in detail
  • And say why you like it — you should try to give three reasons if you can

But also do the following:

  • Describe your feelings about the interest — how do you feel when you do it?
  • Describe your opinions about it — the more opinions you have the better
  • And to tell a story about it

If you can cover some of these points, then you should give a very solid answer when talking about your hobbies and interests.

Good luck and let me know in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “How to Talk About Hobbies in English”

  1. What I saw running through these tips that really added frosting on the cake were the examples you gave where unusual vocabulary words were incorporated into the answer as well as idiomatic phases. A good command of natural English is good but then these extra perks take the answers to a new level of proficiency which should improve the results.

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