‘Used to’ + infinitive vs. ‘be used to’ + -ing verb


When we move to a new country, life changes, doesn’t it? Last year, my daughter left university in England and went to live in the north of Honshu, Japan. How is her life different now? How has her routine changed? What does she find difficult?

In England, ………….

she usually got up at 8 o’clock in the morning
she often cycled to the university campus from home
she cooked chicken casserole or spaghetti bolognese most nights
she studied music and Japanese at university
she didn’t understand Japanese very well
she liked watching films

In Japan, ………………..

she usually gets up at 6.30 am.
she always drives to work
she sometimes cooks sushi or spaghetti bolognese
she teaches English in a school
she understands Japanese much better
she likes watching films

In England,…. In Japan…………

she used to get up quite late, but now she has to get up early for work every weekday.
she often used to cycle to the campus, but now she always drives.
she sometimes cooked chicken casserole, but these days she often has sushi.
She used to study music, but now she teaches English at school. She doesn’t study music any more.
she didn’t use to understand Japanese, but now she understands it better.
she used to like watching films at the cinema; nowadays she watches them on her laptop.

Used to + infinitive:

in the past = a past habit, something we did regularly or more than once. Also for likes/dislikes, feelings and beliefs. We can use it to contrast the past with the present.
She used to cycle, but now she drives. She used to get up at 8, but she doesn’t any more.

Notice that it is followed by the infinitive: She used TO COOK chicken casserole.
The negative uses the base form of the verb: She didn’t USE to go skiing.

(The question is the same – Did you/he use to go..?, but we don’t use it very much.)

I can use it with an adverb of frequency or a frequency expression to say how often.
She often used to cycle.
We can use the PAST SIMPLE in the same way. She often cycled to the campus.

For PRESENT HABITS – use the PRESENT SIMPLE (with a time expression).
She usually gets up at 7. She goes skiing every week.

Japanese winters are difficult for her. They are different to winters in England.

In England, the winters are mild with rain and perhaps a little snow.

In northern Japan, the winters are very cold with heavy snow.

At first, she didn’t know how to drive in the snow. She had never driven in the snow in England.
She had to learn how to do it.

At first, she wasn’t used to driving in the snow. It was strange for her.
Now, she is used to driving in the snow. She understands what to do if it is icy.

At first, she wasn’t used to the cold weather.
In England, we have central heating. In Japan, there is no central heating.
In her apartment, she had to learn how to keep warm.
Now she is used to it. She keeps cosy with her heater and warm coverings.

At first, she wasn’t used to Japanese food. It is very different to English food. Sometimes it is strange for her. She is getting used to it, and of course, it is delicious!

To be used to + ing verb/noun/pronoun

‘used’ is an adjective, ‘to’ is a preposition.
= familiar with/accustomed to – it is normal/I understand it.

We can also say: I am getting used to something. = I am becoming used to it. I need a little more time or practice!

She is getting used to Japanese customs.

So, remember:

used to + infinitive = PAST habits.
* (to be) used to + noun or gerund = to be familiar with.

If you would like to read more about her experiences, you can go to her blog @https://applecountryaomori.wordpress.com/ to learn more about life as a JET in Japan.

You can discover more about the author of this blog post, Anne Fraser on her Facebook page: @EnglishAnne

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