Hey there, this is Teacher Ola podcast episode 24, Used To vs. Be/Get Used To.

My name’s Ola and I teach English online to individual students with speaking barriers.

This podcast is for you if you learn English and want to speak the language with more confidence and get rid of speaking barriers. You’ll boost your vocabulary, brush up your grammar, improve your pronunciation. Go to my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Happy learning!

Hello hello again! I’m thrilled to have you here. It’s an amazing pleasure to talk to you today and teach you some grammar. To make the most of this lesson, and I think since you’ve decided to spend some time with English today it would be a tremendous waste of time not to make it practical, so: to make the most of this episode please please repeat the sentences out loud. I record a pause for you, I hope it’s long enough, please let me know if it’s not and if you need longer breaks for repeating.

Used to, get used to/be used to. Similar, but different, hence confusing. This topic is crucial because you hear it everywhere. You need to feel confident hearing it as well as using it. Today, after this episode you’ll know what’s the difference between them, how to use them properly and in what situations. You’ll repeat 20 plus sentences and learn that ‘used to’ thing once and for all, are you ready? Let’s do it:

Let’s have a closer look at ‘used to’. This is grammar. It’s pure grammar, treat it as another grammar element. It works just like past simple, ok? It’s past, it’s done. It expresses past habits. Things you used to do some time ago. It wasn’t done just once. It was a repeated action, a habit. The thing is, it doesn’t happen any longer.

Sounds like past simple, huh? And you’re right! It works like past simple. The idea you express by using ‘used to’ can be as well expressed by a past simple sentence. I always say that ‘used to’ is a fancier way, and it shows you have a better grasp of English, one level higher. For example, and repeat after me:

I used to travel to Nova Scotia when I lived in Canada.

I travelled to Sova Scotia when I lived in Canada.

Once again: it expresses past regular actions, let’s call them habits, and they don’t happen any more. Bear in mind that the verb after ‘used to’ is infinitive. I used to travel.

He used to snowboard in Italy every winter holiday, but now he has a family of his own and he has different commitments. He’s no longer snowboarding in Italy, right? Good old days. With this meaning, you can also use would. I won’t dive deeper in this modal verb, that’s not the purpose of this episode. Just to signal that it’s possible and widely used, let’s repeat:

I would bake 10 batches of gingerbread men when I was a student.

She would always call me on Saturday evening to check up on me.

He would get white with rage every time he saw me with my best friend.

Second of all, we use ‘used to’ to describe states from the past. Not only actions but also situations from the past. They are no longer true. Let’s see some examples:

I used to think about moving abroad.

My sister used to have blond hair.

I don’t consider moving abroad anymore, and my sister is no longer blonde. It’s all past.

Now. How to formulate negations or questions? Remember what I said before? ‘Used to’ works exactly like past simple. Negative form is ‘didn’t’ and the question form is ‘did’. One more thing to keep in mind. In questions and negations, the form of the verb is infinitive of course. That’s why ‘Did you go?’ for example, hence: did you use to? So, instead of ‘used to’ ‘use to’ Did you use to? Let’s practice, shall we?

I didn’t use to smoke in primary school.

She didn’t use to visit her family members for some time.

We didn’t use to sleep in separate bedrooms.

Did you use to travel in your childhood?

Did your parents use to spend time with you?

Did your neighbours use to organise barbecues?

‘Be used to’, or ‘get used to’ is a different story. It’s not grammar, it’s vocabulary. It’s all about present habits. Whenever you step out from your comfort zone, you do something new it feels strange, awkward, at times ridiculous. What you have to do is you have to get used to it. Turn it into a habit, until it becomes a second nature. In terms of grammar, after to be or to get used to use a gerund. I mean you can be used to things, and you can also be used to doing some things. That’s the gerund, -ing ending. This is all theory, let’s see how it works. Practice makes perfect, please say these sentences out loud:

I’m not used to being alone in the house.

I have to get used to my new calendar.

She’s used to going to bed after midnight.

As you probably noticed ‘get used to’ or ‘be used to’ can be used in various tenses, present, past and future, with modal verbs etc. Treat is as a vocabulary item rather than a grammatical structure. Repeat even more sentences:

How come you got used to living here? It’s filthy!

You can’t get used to being mistreated, you have to stand up for yourself.

I’m used to public transport, I like it actually since it gives me an opportunity to think things through.

They’ve been trying very hard to get used to living with a flatmate.

You’ll get used to it, don’t worry.

I wasn’t used to reading when I was a kid.

We’ll have to get used to smog because it’s not going anywhere, face it.

Here you have it. Now your turn. Please let me know one thing from the past you used to do, but don’t do it anymore. Go to teacherola.com/24, write your comment and download the worksheet, do your homework. This episode exists in a written form, it’s free at teacherola.com/24.

One more request, please share this episode with your friends or family members. If they struggle with the language barrier, I’m sure I can help. I’m sure this podcast can help.

Thank you for tuning in, if you have any questions please contact me, because I’d love to get to know you. Don’t forget to come back here next Wednesday because you’ll learn ‘shadowing’. What a great technique to boost your pronunciation, formulating ideas, choosing the vocabulary, generally: speaking. Till then take care, happy learning, bye!