USED TO, BE USED TO, GET USED TO - What Is The Difference? | DailyStep English

USED TO, BE USED TO, GET USED TO - What Is The Difference?

Jane Lawson English Teacher Hello, I'm Jane at DailyStep English. In this lesson you can learn to avoid some very common mistakes with USED TO.  So, let's start with  this QUIZ:

How to use USED TO, BE USED TO and GET USED TO

Audio Word Study #035 from Jane Lawson at DailyStep.com
 

Correct way to use USED TO in EnglishI recently watched an interview on TV with a Spanish lady who has lived and worked in Britain for over twenty years. Her English was perfect! Except... she still made one very common mistake! Even the most advanced speakers of English sometimes get these two structures mixed up. If you pay attention to this DailyStep Audio Word Study, I hope you will never make this mistake again!
 

 

Used to

 

Meaning: We use ‘used to’ when we are talking about the past. We use it to talk about something that we did regularly in the past, or a situation that was true in the past.

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Examples: 1. I used to live in Cardiff. (note: ‘used to’ is followed by the bare infinitive – in other words, the infinitive without ‘to’. Here, the bare infinitive is ‘live’.)

2. He used to smoke, but he doesn’t smoke any more. (note: here, the bare infinitive is ‘smoke’.)

3. I didn’t use to eat oysters but now I love them. (note: in the negative and question forms, we omit the ‘d’ from ‘used’.)

4. Did you use to climb trees when you were a child? (note: you can see here that we say ‘use’ instead of ‘used’, with the ‘d’ is omitted, because it is in the question form.)

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Be used to and Get used to

Meaning: If you ‘are used to something’, you are accustomed to it. This means that you are familiar with it and it is not strange for you. If you ‘get used to something’, this means that you become accustomed to it.

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Examples: 1. When he started his new job as a postman, he found it very hard to begin work at 4 a.m. It took him a few weeks to get used to waking up so early, but he is used to it now, and in fact he now loves the early mornings! (note: all the underlined words after ‘be used to’ and ‘get used to’ are nouns. Here, ‘waking up’ is the gerund form of the verb. Gerunds are nouns made from verbs. The gerund form is the verb+ING.)

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2. When I first moved to London, I had to get used to living in the city because I grew up in the countryside. I am used to living here now, but it took me quite a long time to get used to it. (note: ‘be used to; and ‘get used to’ arefollowed by nouns. In this sentence ‘living’ is a gerund – in other words, a noun made from a verb.)

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So the structures are:

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USED TO + BARE INFINITIVE  (for example: I used to live in Cardiff.)

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BE USED TO  or GET USED TO + NOUN or GERUND.  (for example: I am used to living in London.)

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The common mistakes that I hear so often are as follows:

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I am used to live in London. (note: we never say ‘am used to live’, because ‘be used to’ is followed by the gerund –ING form of the verb, or by a noun.)

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He used to smoking but he doesn’t smoke any more. (note: we never say ‘used to smoking’ because ‘used to’ is followed by the bare infinitive.)

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If you make these mistakes, people may not understand you, because they have to guess which structure you are trying to say, and their meanings are completely different! The correct versions of these sentences are:

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I am used to living in London.

He used to smoke, but he doesn’t smoke any more.

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See? It’s easy! Now, try to write your own sentences using USED TO, BE USED TO and GET USED TO. Make sure these sentences are true to your own life because this will help you to remember them better.

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That is all for Audio Word Study #035 on DailyStep.com.  If you are a DailyStep subscriber, you can download this audio file below. 

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Used To Do or Be Used To Doing - what is the difference