Wednesday, March 27, 2013

USED TO vs BE USED TO - part 3: using GET

Tom'S GOTTEN USED TO reading the news in English, so he's helping a friend
who IS still NOT USED TO it. He told his friend that he should GET USED TO
reading without looking up every single word he doesn't know.

This is part 3 of our series on USED TO + verb and BE USED TO + noun/gerund. If you haven't read part 1 or part 2, please check those lessons out first to review the main differences between these two phrases in structure and meaning, as well as how to form negative sentences and questions.

In part 3, we will talk about using GET in one of these phrases. When we use GET in this context, we emphasize the process of becoming accustomed to something or someone.

The first thing I want to POINT OUT (emphasize; highlight) is that we DON'T use GET with USED TO + verb. Never. Remember that USED TO + verb only talks about the past that's no longer true in the present. It has nothing to do with being accustomed to anything or anyone.

     1. I USED TO run every morning. (correct!)
     2. I get used to run every morning. (WRONG!)

On the other hand, we can use GET with BE USED TO + noun/gerund. We do this by using GET in place of BE to emphasize the process of becoming accustomed to something. Using GET lets us be more flexible with our sentences. With BE, we can only say we are or we aren't accustomed to something. However, if we use GET instead of BE, it's no longer just yes or no, accustomed or not. We can talk about becoming accustomed as when we use the progressive form (ING), or we can emphasize the fact that we've gone through the tough period and now we are accustomed to it as when we use the past tense or a perfect tense. 

     1. I'm GETTING USED TO doing my own laundry. (It's still difficult, but it's getting easier.)
     2. She HAS GOTTEN USED TO working overnight. (It's easy now, or she doesn't mind it now.)
     3. They GOT USED TO their new school. They've stopped complaining. (They went through a difficult period; now, they ARE USED TO IT.)
     4. We'RE GETTING USED TO our new neighbors, but we still don't like it when they make too much noise.
     5. Most people are shocked at the small apartments in New York, but if they like the city, they GET USED TO them very quickly.

Personally, I GOT USED TO my daily commute a long time ago, and I'M USED TO the crowded trains during rush hour. However, I don't know if I'll ever GET USED TO loud people or those playing loud music on the train. I'm usually working or taking a nap during my commute. What about you?

Is there anything you HAVEN'T GOTTEN USED TO yet? Perhaps you haven't gotten used to your new neighborhood or your new neighbors. Is there anything in your daily routine that is still strange, difficult or unpleasant, but YOU'RE slowly GETTING USED TO IT? Perhaps you're still GETTING USED TO waking up early or going home late. Perhaps you're still getting used to your new roommate's strange schedule. Let us know and practice your English here, on the NYLC page on Facebook or @NYLangCenter on Twitter. Until next time. :-)

-- Joe Yu, ESL instructor