‘Used to’ or ‘be used to’ – talking about habits

Daria Storozhilova Blog for English learners

If you have problems with the verb structures ‘used to’ and ‘be used to’, I hope this video will be helpful. I have recorded a 14-minute grammar training for you to understand the difference between these two constructions and the examples of their use + I am showing you alternative ways of describing habits in the past and in the present.

This video will be perfect for B1-B2 level students (Intermediate and Upper-intermediate). You will get a comprehensive picture of most all possible ways to talk about habits, including set expressions.

Here is the link to the video:

Here is the information in short.

The word ‘habit’ means ‘something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way’ (Merriam-Webster Learner’s dictionary). So, it is very important to remember that all the structures described in the video are used only for the repeated actions, but not one-time actions. For one-time actions in the Past, use Past Simple construction. (e.g. I entered the university in 1997. – I entered it only once)

In the same page in the dictionary I quote (http://learnersdictionary.com/definition/habit) you can find various ways of using the word ‘habit’, including idioms and set expressions. I am giving the following examples in the video:

Next, we have a look at the constructions ‘used to’ (to show the habit we had in the past and don’t have now), ‘get used to’ (to show the process of developing a new habit) and ‘be used to’ (describing the state when we have some present habit – it means we do something on a regular basis and enjoy it). You will also find some explanations on using ‘would’ and ‘will’ as alternatives to the constructions in question (which is more advanced information and can be confusing for some people).

Beware of the forms of ‘used to’ and ‘be used to’! 

Be careful about the verb form you use after ‘used to’ construction. V1 – it’s the first form of the verb (like the form you find in the dictionary, we also call it ‘bare infinitive’ or ‘infinitive without ‘to’). Ving is a gerund or a verb form with an -ing ending.

USED TO + V1 (e.g. I used to smoke a lot.)

BUT

BE USED TO + Ving, and (e.g. I am used to eating vegetarian food.)

GET USED TO + Ving (e.g. I am getting used to riding a bicycle to work.)

 

I will quote the exercise I gave you at the end of the video one more time here if you need a bit longer time to think about it. Try to find which sentences are correct or not. The answers are in the video or have a look at the very end of the post.

Exercise 1: Are these sentences correct or not?

  • I used to speak French every day.
  • I am not used to eat so much for breakfast.
  • He used to smoking.
  • He is got used to flying after his first year as a journalist.
  • She would like skiing as a child.
  • We are getting used to sleeping with the windows open.
  • She will going to the beach every day.

And here is a bit more practice for you:

Exercise 2. Use the correct form of ‘used to’, ‘be used to’ or ‘get used to’.

  • It was very hard to ___ eating so much rice when I moved to China.
  • She ___ be quite slim, but she has put on so much weight in the last months.
  • I am afraid I will never ___ driving on the left!
  • I am slowly ____ reading from the screen. I ___ only read paper books in the past.
  • Hasn’t he still ____ our southern lifestyle? It’s so easy!
  • I don’t want to drink white coffee! I ____ drinking my coffee black!

Exercise 3. Write one or two sentences describing the situations below using ‘used t0’, ‘would’, ‘be used to’, ‘will’ or ‘get used to’.

Example

Situation: I live in a new country where people speak a language different from my mother tongue. How do I feel? Answer: I used to live in a different country. I am getting used to speaking a new language.

  • I liked to drive a car before, but I don’t drive much now. I prefer the bicycle.
  • I ate a lot of meat in the past. Now I only eat vegetables.
  • We have dinner in the same restaurant every weekend. We like this restaurant very much.
  • I was a top model before, but now I live in a small house in a village. I am retired, and I don’t work anymore.

Answers

Exercise 1

1) I used to speak French every day. correct
2) I am not used to eating so much for breakfast.
3) He is used to smoking. / He used to smoke.
4) He is got used to flying after his first year as a journalist.
5) She would used to like skiing as a child.
6) We are getting used to sleeping with the windows open. correct
7) She will going to the beach every day.

Exercise 2. 

  • It was very hard to get used to eating so much rice when I moved to China.
  • She used to be quite slim, but she has put on so much weight in the last months.
  • I am afraid I will never get used to driving on the left!
  • I am slowly getting used to reading from the screen. I used to only read paper books in the past.
  • Hasn’t he still got / gotten used to our southern lifestyle? It’s so easy!
  • I don’t want to drink white coffee! I am used to drinking my coffee black!

Exercise 3. Example answers

  • I used to drive a lot. Now I am used to riding a bicycle.  
  • I didn’t use to be a vegetarian. I used to eat meat. I got used to eating vegetables instead of meat. 
  • We will go to the same restaurant every weekend. We are used to visiting the same restaurant every weekend.
  • I used to be a top model. I used to have a lot of media attention. I have got used to a quieter life now. 

Please share this post on social media if you find it useful. 

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