Be / Get / Used to

Number 53 of 85 in B1 - PRE-INTERMEDIATE

New English word? Translate any word using double click.

Look at the difference between these sentences:

  • I used to get up early   (USED TO + INFINITIVE = Something you often did in the past, but not anymore)
  • I’m used to getting up early   (BE USED TO + …ING = You have a habit of doing something)
  • I can’t get used to getting up early  (GET USED TO + …ING = To start the habit o doing something)

Be used to + ..ing and Get used to + …ing are two sides of the same coin. They talk about habits, and how you are accustomed to doing something. The difference between them is the basic difference between ‘BE’ and ‘GET’, which you can read here. It isn’t always necessary to use a verb.

Used to + Infinitive is something quite different. It is a way of speaking in the past:
When I was little I went to my Gran’s house  (Just once?)
When I was little I was going to my Gran”s house….(when a wolf appeared from behind a tree!)
When I was little I used to go to my Grans house (Regulary)

‘Used to + Infinitive’ follow the same rules as any other verb in the Past Simple tense.

Fill in the gaps with the correct form of BE USED TO, GET USED TO or USED TO:

1) Well done – you’ve stopped smoking! You ______________ a packet every day! (finish)
2) I don’t think I could live in the south of Spain – I ___________ the heat. (not)
3) Grandad! What did you ___________ to find a girlfriend when you were young? (do)
4) 3 years living in England! Have you ________ tea every two hours? (drink)
5) I’m starting my job in London on Monday. I’ll have to ___________ the traffic jams in the morning.
6) He __________ hard work – Years ago he ___________ a miner! (be)
7) Before I had kids I didn’t _________ about the future! (worry)
8) They __________ dangerous situations – they’ve trained for this type of thing! (deal with)
9) Children shouldn’t ___________ junk food – it’ll cause them problems later in life. (eat)
10) People ___________ simpler and happier lives, without the stress we have today. (have)

NOTES:
‘Used to + infinitive’ is usually translated as ‘solía…’, but I think a more common translation is ‘Antes….’ (Antes fumaba mucho)
If you want to say ‘USED TO + INF.’ in the present tense (‘suelo hacer algo’), you can say ‘I tend to… (+ infinitive)’.
‘Would’ can also be used with the same meaning if you are talking about actions (but not states, using ‘be’ for example):

My sister and I used to / would spend hours on the phone together – now we’re more distant.
The weather used to / would be colder than now – it’s global warming.

ANSWERS!

1) Well done – you’ve stopped smoking! You USED TO FINISH a packet every day!
2) I don’t think I could live in the south of Spain – I’M NOT USED TO the heat.
3) Grandad! What did you USE TO DO to find a girlfriend when you were young?
4) 3 years living in England! Have you GOT USED TO DRINKING tea every two hours?
5) I’m starting my job in London on Monday. I’ll have to GET USED TO the traffic jams in the morning.
6) He’S USED TO hard work – Years ago he USED TO BE a miner!
7) Before I had kids I didn’t USE TO WORRY about the future!
8) They’RE USED TO DEALING WITH dangerous situations – they’ve trained for this type of thing!
9) Children shouldn’t GET USED TO EATING junk food – it’ll cause them problems later in life.
10) People USED TO HAVE simpler and happier lives, without the stress we have today.

level.