Lesson 8a - USED TO - Part 1

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Lesson 8a - USED TO - Part 1


Well, that wasn’t too good…I used to be better. With two small children, I just don’t have the time to practice anymore. Is there something you used to do? ... Something you really enjoyed? Why did you stop? Maybe by the end of this lesson you’ll be able to tell me.

In this lesson we will look at three common expressions:

• Used to
• Be used to
• Get used to

They can easily cause confusion because of their similarities and forms, and their meaning. This is a lesson in two parts, and part 1 will cover “used to” and “be used to”.

Let’s first look at “used to”. This structure expresses that something was true or common in the past, but isn’t now or expresses something happened often in the past, but doesn’t happen now.So we can use this structure to describe past states and situations or past events and actions. What important to understand is that the structure helps us create a contrast between the past and the present.

Let’s look at two examples:

I used to be better at the piano.=I was better in the past. Now I’m not that good.
I used to play more often.= In the past, I played more often. I don’t play much anymore.

Do you see the contrast?

This idea of contrast in the past and the present can be expressed more than one way.

“I used to play a lot” means the same as

I do not play a lot now
I do not play a lot anymore
I no longer play a lot

So “used to” means “not…now”, “not…anymore”, “no longer”. The difference is that the expression “used to” is the past tense structure. Let’s look more closely at the structure or form in affirmative and negative statement.

The first is affirmative: “I used to practice regularly”
[used to+ base verb]

The second statement is negative: “I didn’t use to complain about not having time to practice” [didn’t + use to + base verb]

Note that “didn’t” is already signal of the past, so “use to” is written without that “ed” and “d”.
Now look at the structure of questions:

Did you use to play a lot?

[did+subject+use to+base verb]

It’s also fairly common to ask negative question

Didn’t you use to take lessons?

We ask the negative question because we think we’re right but we need somebody to confirm our information.

And then, of course, we can ask a question with a question word or phrase.

Example: How often did you use to play?

[question word+ did + subject + use to + base verb]

Please note two different pronunciations of this structure when it is followed by a consonant sound, we do not pronounce “used to” with the full vowel sound.“to” becomes “tə”

Example: I used to practice regularly.

I didn’t use to complain so much.

Both the affirmative and the negative form have the same pronunciation /`yustə”/

In contrast, we keep the full vowel sound when the structure is followed by a vowel sound or when it stands at the end of this statement. For example:
/`yustu/

I used to entertain my grandmother with my music.
Do you play?-I used to

Exercise 1: Watch the video clip and then answer the question:

Example: Listen to Jennifer talk about playing the piano.

“When I was younger, I used to practice quite often.

Which statement is true about Jennifer?
a. She practices more now than she did in the past.
b. She practiced more in the past than she does now.
c. She has always practiced a lot.

Answer: B

1. Listen to Gina talk about her work.

“What do you do? _I’m retired

What kind of work did you use to do?_I used to be a social worker for troubled families.”

Which statement is true about Gina?

a. She helps troubled families.
b. She doesn’t want to retire.
c. She was a social worker, but no longer is.

Answer: C

2. Listen to Carol talk about sports.

“Do you play sports?_I used to.”

Which statement about Carol is true?

a. She doesn’t play sports anymore.
b. She never played sports
c. She can’t play sports.

Answer: A

3. Listen to Carol talk about tennis.

“How often did you play tennis?_I used to play tennis almost every day.

Which statement about Carol is true?

a. She continues to play tennis as often as she can.
b. There was a time in the past when she played nearly every day.
c. She’s better now at tennis than she ever was in the past.

Answer: B
Watch and listen.Try to answer these two questions:

1. Is it easy for Jennifer to play this fast piece of music?
2. Is she comfortable playing the piano on camera?

My finger just aren’t used to moving that fast.I’m also not used to performing in camera, so I’m a little nervous.

The answer is:

1. It’s not easy for Jennifer to play this fast piece of music
2. She isn’t comfortable playing the piano on camera.
The second structure “be used to” expresses that something is familiar, comfortable or normal for someone. It is not limited to the past. In fact, very often we use it to describe what we are custom to in the present.

Let’s look at two examples:

My fingers aren’t used to moving that fast= It’s not easy for my finger to move that fast. It is not a normal activity.
I’m not used to performing on camera = I’m not comfortable performing on camera

Now look at form. We have two examples:

I’m used to my electronic keyboard.
[be used to+noun/pronoun]
I’m not used to performing on camera.
[be not used to+ (_ing form of verb)]

In both statements, the verb of “be” agrees with the subject. The first statement is affirmative.The second is negative. The structure is followed by an object and answers the question What? The object can be a noun or pronoun or gerund (_ing form of verb)

We are going to pause now. If you like to review what you‘ve learned so far in part 1, I invite you to Englishcafe′.com. I offer an exercise on “used to” and “be used to”. My user name is Jennifer ESL. Follow the direct link listed in the video description. This is the end of part 1. Be sure to watch part 2. I’ll see you there.

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