Posted by: Idioma Extra | June 15, 2011

Use to and be used to June 9, 2011


Used to and be used to

There is often some confusion on how to properly use used to and be used to. They are very similar in structure, but are very different in meaning and usage. The following will help you distinguish between the two:

Used to:  This structure is applied when referring to actions done in the past, but that are no longer done. Look at the following examples.

Structure for statements: Subject + used to + simple form of verb

When Alex was in high school, he used to play soccer with his friends during recess.

I used to eat a lot of junk food, but now I have a healthy diet.

Structure for questions (using ‘did’):  Did + subject + use to + simple form of verb

Did you use to play an instrument when you were younger?

Where did she use to work before this job?

Notice that in question form, the –ed form is not used. This is because ‘did’ already indicates that we are talking about the past.

Be used to: This structure is used when talking about habits that someone has or things done regularly. For example:

Structure for statements: Subject + form of be +used to + gerund (questions are the same except for…

I am used to waking up every morning at 5 a.m.

My brother started his first job. He is not used to having so much responsibility.

This structure isn’t used very often to refer to the past. It is generally used in the present.

 Check yourself

Now look at the following examples and decide if they are correct or not. If not, then make the correction. Then indicate what the context is (PA-past action or H-habit).

1. The grocery store by my house use to close at 7pm, but now they are open until 9pm. ___

2. I got lost because I took a different bus home today. I am used to take a different bus route. ___

3. I am used to wearing jeans to class every day when I was in high school. ___

4. Did you used to wear a tie at your previous job? ___

5. I felt uncomfortable at the party because I am not used to being around so many people. ___

6. I used to bringing a lunch to work, but now I go to the food court for lunch. ___

7. I’m having problems understanding the Microsoft Office 2007 functions because I am used to using the 2003 format. ___

8.  We used to be able to wear jeans to the office on Fridays, but the company changed the policy. ___

Answers to last week’s Check Yourself

Look at the following sentences and decide what is the correct context being used (NS-Non-specific, MT-Multiple times, PP-Past to present, N-Never). Write the context in the space after the sentence.

1. I have gone windsurfing many times. _MT_

2. She has been the president for a long time. _PP_

3. The students have finished their homework. _NS_

4. I have never heard that before. _N_

5. The basketball player has broken his leg. _NS_

6. The computer hasn’t worked since yesterday. _PP_

7. They have worked together on many occasions. _MT_

8. He has had problems with his neighbor. _NS_

9. She has been asleep for an hour or so. _PP_

10. They haven’t completed construction yet. _PP_


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