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IELTS Grammar | Speaking: "Used To"

Updated: Jun 13, 2021



There are some grammar structures that will gain you a higher score IF (and this is an important "if") you use them accurately, appropriately, and with confidence.


Today, we'll take a look at the simple yet incredibly effective at helping you create complex structures: "used to"


BUT FIRST, A NOTE: Learning and using new structures will take time, so please don't be hard on yourself. Enjoy the ride as much as possible.

 
  1. I used to wake up early every morning. [used to + infinitive]


Is this person still waking up early every morning?

Is this an action that continues to happen every morning?


No.


This was a regular activity that the person did in the past.


When can you use this grammar structure in IELTS speaking?


The truth is that you can almost use it anytime in the exam. For example, the examiner might ask you a common question like this in part 1:


Do you live in a city or in a town?
I currently live in Manchester but I used to reside in a small town with my family. I moved for my studies two years ago.

Even though the examiner is asking you an "either" "or" question, you don't have to give a very short single answer.


Rather, while you're practising, it would be more useful to think about how you can extend answers when asked a question. This is less of a language skill and more about developing your curiosity and sharing more information. (That's why Nimble & Poised is intended for curious English learners).


Now, try answering these questions using the same strategy and "used to":


  • Do you prefer tea or coffee?

  • Would you rather wear headphones or earbuds?

  • Do you exercise regularly?

 

2. I'm used to waking up early every morning.

[be or get + used to + -ing]


How is this different from the sentence above?


Is the person still waking up early every morning?

Is this an action that continues to happen everyday?


Yes!


What is the point of this structure - be + used to + -ing?


It is to inform the listener about an action that is familiar to you or that you are accustomed to.


It is important that you use "be" to talk about such an action.


When can you use this grammar structure in IELTS speaking?


Again, you can use it almost anytime. It depends on how curious and creative you are during the exam. For example:

Do you live in a city or in a town?
I currently live in Manchester and I'm not used to it yet. I just moved two months ago for my studies.

Try answering these questions using the same strategy and "(be) used to":


  • What kind of clothes do you wear to go to school/work?

  • Do you prefer yoga or a more intense workout?

  • Are you an early riser or a night owl?


3. I'm getting used to waking up early every morning.


This is very similar to the second one in terms of its meaning.


The only difference is that you are talking about the process of becoming familiar and accustomed to an action or a noun. Therefore, you will need to use: "get" + used to + -ing OR "get" + used to + noun.


Do you live in a city or in a town?
I currently live in Manchester, which is a busy and loud city, but I'm getting used to the noise.

Try answering these questions using the same strategy and "(get) used to":


  • What do you like most about your job/school?

  • What would you like to change about your apartment/house?

  • Are you an early riser or a night owl?


Remember to practise making sentences and using this structure in your conversation. Speak widely about different topics and enjoy the journey!


If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below. If you would like to take classes with me, you can book a slot here.


Take care and see you in the next post!

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