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The Phrase "Used To"

The phrase "used to" is a great one to know in English, as it has three different functions. 

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1. First of all, "used to" is the participle of the verb "to use" combined with the preposition "to." Note that in this case the "s" in "use" is pronounced more or less like a "z." The sentences below are about something being utilized for a particular purpose:

 

Java isn't the same thing as JavaScript, which is a simple technology used to create web pages.

Captions 6-7, Business English - About Java

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"Kinda," for example, combines "kind" and "of," but the word "kinda" is most often used as a casual synonym for "rather," and is used to modify an adjective or an adverb.

Captions 16-18, English with Annette O'Neil - Colloquial Contractions

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2. The phrase “used to” can mean “accustomed to.” In this case, "used" is pronounced with a soft "s" rather than a "z" sound. To "get used to" something is to gain experience or become comfortable with it to the extent that you expect it: 

 

Now I know that you're used to seeing me in warmer climates.

Caption 1, British Gas - Top Tips on Preparing Your Home for Cold Weather

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I remember Madonna saying the colored contacts she wore for “Evita” were pretty uncomfortable and hard to get used to, for example.

Captions 45-46, Bohemian Rhapsody - Six Facts about the True Story

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3. When we talk about habitual actions in the past in English, i.e. something you did on a regular basis, we often use the construction “used to” + infinitive. Here, the "s" in "used" is also pronounced with an "s" sound.

 

It's a lot more interesting and enticing than it used to be.

Caption 35, Alaska Revealed - Tidal Bores, Icebergs and Avalanches

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...and I used to go there every Saturday and go to the market.

Caption 32, Creative Space - An Artist's Studio

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Further Learning
You can discover many instances of "used to" on Yabla English and get used to using this phrase yourself! As you can see, it is used to discuss not only practical uses, but also life experiences in the past and present. When you watch the videos, make sure you pay special attention to the difference in the pronunciation of the "s."

Winter is Coming

Characters in the popular television series Game of Thrones often repeat that "winter is coming," but somehow it never actually arrives. The results of the recent presidential election in the United States, however, have left many liberals preparing for a political winter that could last for at least four years. Here are some Yabla videos dealing with common expressions relating to this coldest of seasons.

 

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Welcome to winter time... right here.

Caption 33, Jason Mraz - Tour of studio

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The winter came and the lake froze over.

Caption 37, Fairy Tales - The Ugly Duckling

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However, there's still a large difference between winter and summer.

Caption 4, English with Lauren - The weather

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In this winter of our hardship ... let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come.

Captions 87-89, Barack Obama's Inauguration Day - Obama's Speech

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Instead of lush fields, we would have long winters and sparse, ice-covered landscapes in Europe.

Captions 55-56, Nature Preservation - The Gulf Stream & Climate Change

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You will have your home prepared and winter-proofed in next to no time.

Caption 38, British Gas - top tips on preparing your home for cold weather

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Further Learning
Watch the above videos in their entirety and search for examples of winter on Yabla English to see other related terms used in a real-world context. 

Vocabulary

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