English Lesson: Used to Vs. Be Used to Vs. Get Used to

MichaelADUncategorized 2 Comments

I wasn’t always an English teacher. In fact, I used to work in the music business. I was a music teacher and also a music transcriber. That job was interesting. I used to listen to heavy metal records and then transcribe the guitar parts. Some of the music was really heavy, and honestly, I never got used to it. I think I’m much happier being an English teacher. I started doing that in Japan. At first it was a little hard living overseas, but I got used to it pretty quickly.

Today, let’s have a look at be used to and used to. These two words look similar, but they have two very different uses. Do you know how to use these words? Have a look at the paragraph above once more, and then check today’s lesson.

Used to

We use used to when we talk about our past habits or states of being. These are things that we did all the time in the past, but not anymore. The structure is used + to + verb (used + infinitive)

  • I used to work in the music business. I don’t work in the music business anymore.
  • Brad used to live in Florida. He doesn’t live there now.
  • Jack used to smoke, but he quit. Jack doesn’t have the habit of smoking anymore.
  • I used to listen to heavy metal records. I don’t listen to listen to them anymore (^o^).

Remember that used to is used to talk about past situations and circumstances which have changed. “I used to smoke” is a past situation which no longer exists. Used to indicates that a change in a situation and so we don’t use used to when we talk about what happened in the past. Compare the following:

  • Jack worked for Apple for five years. This talks about a situation in the past only.
  • Jack used to work for Apple. This talks about a situation in the past which no longer exists.

Be used to

We use be used to when we want to talk about situations that are familiar and/or no longer new or difficult.  The structure is be used to + Ving or be used to + something

  • I am used to using the subway in New York.  At first it was difficult, but now I am familiar with the subway.
  • Jack is used to living a smoke free life.
  • Jane is from the countryside and she is not used to the noise of Manhattan.
  • I am finally used to using a touchscreen phone.

You can also get used to something, which means that it becomes familiar over time:

  • Joe got used to driving in London pretty quickly.
  • Jack got used to not smoking by exercising at the gym.
  • Anne said that she hopes she can get used to her new boss.

Let’s look at both words together:

  • I used to drink black coffee. I drank black coffee in the past, but not anymore.
  • I am used to drinking black coffee. Drinking black coffee is familiar to me now.

I hope this lesson can help you get more used to English! Thanks for studying today.



Comments 2

  1. Ahhhh. Very nice!! I like the way you bring your own experiences into the explanation. I do the same thing in my classes. By the way, do you have any quizzes? Oh…wow…you have videos, too! You’re a busy guy to be doing all this!! I’m going to check out the videos. I’m TeachESL on You Tube.

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