I used to study English every day, but it still took a while to get used to all the rules. Now I am used to English grammar!
Used to, get used to, and be used to are three verb forms with similar structures but different meanings. Students often get them confused because they look and sound similar, so explicit instruction that compares and contrasts these three forms is beneficial and appreciated!
Try presenting used to, get used to, and be used to using the comparison chart below. Then get your students to practice with the discussion questions at the end of this post or the grammar exercise in our Grammar & Usage Resource on Used To, Get Used To & Be Used To.
1. Used To
Used To + Base Verb
Used to is always followed by a base verb. Note that used to follows normal simple past verb rules, so it becomes use to with the auxiliary verb did in questions and negative statements.
Used to is a unique expression in English. Its form and function are similar to a modal (i.e., it gives extra information about the verb and is followed by a base verb). Used to shows that an action was performed repeatedly in the past, but is no longer performed in the present. It is commonly used when talking about long periods in the past (e.g., childhood, school years, past job, etc.).
- I used to eat meat, but I don’t anymore.
- They used to study English every day in high school.
- Did you use to play video games when you were a child?
- My teacher didn’t use to give us any homework. Now we get homework every day!
2. Get Used To
Get Used To + Noun/‑ing Verb
Get used to is followed by a gerund (‑ing verb) or a noun. In this expression, the used to part will never change to use to. Only get changes to reflect the verb tense.
Get used to indicates that something is becoming familiar. Use this expression for a new habit or routine. Though it is possible to use get used to for both positive and negative experiences, it is more commonly used with negative situations (e.g., when something is difficult).
- I am getting used to living with my new roommate.
- Our new teacher quickly got used to our large, multicultural class.
- They couldn’t get used to the noisy neighborhood, so they moved.
- Has your brother gotten used to his new boss?
3. Be Used To
Be Used To + Noun/‑ing Verb
Be used to is followed by a gerund (‑ing verb) or a noun. Note that the used to part will never change to use to. Only be will change to reflect the verb tense.
Be used to indicates that something has become familiar. Use this expression when something is now a habit or routine (and has been going on for a while). Like get used to, it is possible to use be used to for both positive and negative experiences, but it is used for negative situations slightly more often.
- She is used to getting up at 6:00 a.m. because she does it every day.
- Is your friend used to the noise from the construction site next to her office?
- The teacher wasn’t used to answering so many questions during class.
- By this time next year, I will be used to living in Brazil.
Get your students to ask each other the following discussion questions to practice used to, get used to, and be used to.
- What is something that you used to do as a child but no longer do now?
- Name 5 things that you are used to doing every day.
- Think of a time when you started a new hobby. Was it hard to get used to it? How long was it until you were used to it?
- Imagine you have to move to a new city. Do you think you’ll have a hard time getting used to living there? How about another country?
- What types of TV shows did you use to watch when you were younger? What do you enjoy watching nowadays?
Not an ESL Library member? Get unlimited access to 1,000+ lessons and 2,000+ flashcards. Subscribe today!