Used To and Be + Used To in English

used to and be + used to

Used to and to be + used to sound similar, and it is easy to get them confused. But it’s important to use them correctly, because they mean different things. Let’s sort it out together.

What do you think the sentence means? What do you notice about how used to is constructed?

I didn’t used to like cold weather, but I am used to it now.

Used to + Base Form of Verb

We use used to to refer to habits and states that were true in the past, but that are no longer true. Look at the following examples:

David used to live in Colombia, but now he lives in the U.S.

We used to tell each other everything.

I used to be a picky eater.

We can use the negative form to talk about something that didn’t used to be true, but that is true now.

David didn’t used to live in the U.S.

We didn’t used to argue like we do now. What happened to us?

I didn’t used to like sushi.

To be + Used to + Noun phrase/Pronoun/Verb + ing

When we add to be before used to, it refers to familiarity with something. It is something we are accustomed to. Here are some examples:

Many people in Mexico are used to spicy food. (noun phrase)

My shoes are uncomfortable. I’m not used to them yet. (pronoun)

Are you used to working long hours? (verb + ing)

We can use be + used to to talk about the present, the past or the future. To change the tense, just change the conjugation of to be.

To get + Used to + Noun phrase/Pronoun/Verb in Gerund Form

Notice that you can replace to be with to get in order to indicate that you are in the process of becoming familiar with something. You can use to get in the same ways that you use to be. The only difference is the sense that there is a change happening.

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Conversation Questions
1.) What is something that you used to do, that you don’t do anymore?
2.) Tell me about something that was difficult to get used to for you.
3.) What is something that you would like to change, but that is difficult to give up, because you are used to doing it.
4.) How has society changed? How did things used to be different?