Used to – important Vocabulary

I used to live here

means

I lived here before but I don’t live here any more.

“Used to” plus verb is a common pattern. It is a type of past tense. Look at these examples:

I used to smoke but I gave up.
I used to be a man but I had a sex change.
I used to be a teacher but I am retired now.
I used to play a lot of sport but I don’t have time now.
I used to work there but I was transferred.
I used to live near there but I moved.

Drama and Humour in the Classroom

You can liven the class up by giving an example of the use of “used to” with a dramatic wolf’s howl on “nooowwww!!”. This is an example of irony.

The speaker says he is alright now but his words belie this. His words betray his real condition. He is still a werewolf!

Are you a werewolf?

I used to be werewolf but I am all right now.

Did it Take Long to Get Used to?

When you move to a new country you have to learn a new language. You have to get to know a new culture. Some times it takes a long time.

Time Expressions

These two phrases are the same:

Did it take long?
Did it take a long time?

The Word – “use”

The word “use” is broad and complex. It is used in several idiomatic expressions.

Language Use

“Use” is a noun when we talk about “the use of language”.

The use of English around the world is increasing.

It is also a verb:

Many people use Japanese at home but they have to use English when they travel.

Used to PLUS verb

“Used to plus verb” refers to an action that was done many times in the past but it is finished now.

I used to live in Japan. (I don’t live there any more).

I used to have a car. (I don’t have it any more.)

Be Used to Doing something

To be used to doing something means to be accustomed to doing it.

When I first came to the UK I was not used to speaking English but I am used to it now.

That means when I arrived I did not have the habit of speaking English every day. Now I do have that habit.

Get Used to Doing something

We contrast “getting used to” and “being used to”.

I got used to speaking English describes the process or action of becoming used to it.

I am used to speaking English.

describes the state of being used to speaking English every day.

One is a state and one is a process.:

I got used to it so now I am used to it.

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Links to More Lessons

Compare “used to” and “would”.

Vocabulary is the Key


Do you know Abraham Vortik?

Audio – Listening Practice

Pakistan Used to be Part of India

Living Overseas and Coming Back

It used to be called “Western Transvaal”

There used to be a lot of Chinese people growing vegetables there.

24 Responses to “Used to – important Vocabulary”

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  16. Deborah says:

    Thanks a lot, but I disagree with you because you say that “used to” + verb refers to an action that was done many times in the past but is NOT finished and this is not so, the action IS finished.

  17. shakti says:

    very helpful !!

    I need this type of explanation for this vocab.

  18. AQEEL AZMY says:

    Very useful…
    Here in my country, any English language course would begin with ‘Tenses’, but the students aren’t taught the usage of “Used to”!

  19. Nadiaboutekra says:

    Waw! this is the way I taught it to my students.

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