“I used to” vs. “I’m used to” in English

Hi, students. I’m Shayna, your teacher at espressoenglish.net. Today I want to answer a student who asked about how to use the expression “used to” in English. This is an interesting topic because there are actually two different ways to use used to in English, and they have different purposes. Today I’m going to teach you that with examples.

I used to / I didn’t use to¬†

First, we can say, “I used to” when talking about things that we did frequently in the past but we don’t do today.

For example, I used to take piano lessons when I was a child. I took piano lessons. But nowadays I don’t take piano lessons, so I can say, “I used to take piano lessons.”

I also used to have long hair, but today I have short hair. It’s something that was true in the past but now it has changed. It’s not true anymore, so I use “I used to” plus the base form of the verb. I used to take piano lessons and I used to have long hair, but not anymore.

Now I can make a negative sentence by talking about things that were not true in the past and they are true today. For that I use “I didn’t use to” plus the base form of the verb. I didn’t use to teach English. In the past I had other jobs, other professions, but now I’m an English teacher. It’s a situation that changed. It was different in the past and now it’s something else. I didn’t use to teach English, but now I do.

“I used to” and “I didn’t use to,” plus the base form of the verb, are used for situations that were different in the past when compared to today. Got it?

I’m used to / I’m not used to

Now, we also have the expressions “I’m used to” and “I’m not used to.” These are different. These are used for talking about customs, things that you are accustomed to doing.

For example, here in the United States, I was born in the United States, I’m used to driving on the right side of the road. In English they drive on the left, so I’m used to driving on the right side of the road and I’m not used to driving on the left side of the road, because my custom is to drive on the right. It’s different in English, so I’m not accustomed to driving on the left.

Another good example is when it comes to eating meals. Here in the United States we eat our biggest meal usually at dinner, so I’m used to eating a big meal at dinner. But my husband is from Brazil, and in Brazil they often eat a big meal at lunch, and then a lighter meal at dinner, so my husband is not used to eating a big dinner. He’s used to eating a large lunch. When using “I’m used to” and “I’m not used to” to talk about customs, then we use the -ing form of the verb. I’m used to eating a big dinner. I’m not used to eating a large lunch. These are two separate structures that are used for two different things.

I’m going to give you some homework to write in the comments, but first I want to encourage you, if you like my teaching, first of all like this video, share it with all your friends, and also check out the courses I have available. I’ll put a link together with this video. If you like the way I teach, I think you’ll really enjoy my courses, because I go through all the aspects of the English language in a very clear and straightforward way. I also include lots of practice.

Your practice for today is to write a comment on this video. I want you to try to use each of these four structures. Tell me something you used to do in the past. Tell me something you didn’t used to do in the past, but now you do. Then use “I’m used to” and “I’m not used to” for your customs. What’s something that is typical in your country and you’re used to doing, and what’s something that’s not typical or maybe would be a change for you, something you’re not used to doing? Got it? I look forward to reading your comments, and I will see you in the next lesson.

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