Speaking: ‘Use to / Be used to / Get used to’ Pair-Work Activity (ESL)

English Level: Intermediate, Upper-Intermediate

Language Focus: use to, to be used to, to get used to

Class time: 30 minutes

Worksheet Downloaduse-to-be-used-to-speaking-pairwork.docx

(Be) Used to Activity Description

Students will forever confuse the expressions use to and be/get used to. Therefore, we need to try to review it often. This activity should be done after teaching the rules for these expressions. An explanation of the rules and differences between used to and BE used to can be found here.

I like to teach these grammar points one day, and then use the below activity as a review warm-up the next day.

(Be) Used To Activity Execution

This is how I execute this activity.

  1. Write on the board: “Peter ________  work every day, but now he has retired. He ______________ (have) so much free time, but slowly he _____________ it.”
    Explain Peter’s situation using synonyms for use to or be used to. For example, “Peter, in the past, worked every day, but now he has retired. He is not accustomed to having so much free time, but slowly, he is becoming comfortable with it.”
  2. Get your students to elicit synonyms for the blanks, so you can end up with the following: Peter used to work every day, but now he has retired. He is not used to having so much free time, but slowly he is getting used to it.
  3. Put students in pairs.
  4. Distribute the activity worksheet (link above). Read the explanation at the top.
  5. Give several examples to the class for the class to rephrase as a group. For example, “In the past, I hated onions” (The class repeats, “So, you’re saying that you used to hate onions”), “I am accustomed to taking public transit.” (The class repeats, “So, you mean that you are used to taking public transit.”)
  6. Once they understand the exercise, remind them that the last two questions are for discussion.
  7. Get them to decide who is StudentA and StudentB. They should then fold their paper so they cannot see the sentences their partner reads them (this is better for listening practice).
  8. Let them start. Students take turns reading sentences and paraphrasing them until they are finished.
  9. Monitor and then clarify any confusion afterwards.

(Be) Used to Speaking Activity Preview

Used to / BE Used to / GET Used to

Peter used to work every day, but now he has retired.

He is not used to having so much free time, but slowly he is getting used to it.


 Task: Decide who is Student A and Student B. Then, your partner will read the first sentence. The other student should then rephrase the sentences using ‘use to’ / ‘BE used to’ or ‘get used to.’ The student who listens should use “So you’re saying…” or “So you mean …” to begin the paraphrase. The last two sentences are questions for discussion.

Sample Dialogue

A: My father’s hair was black 10 years ago. Now he’s bald.

B: Oh, so you’re saying that your father used to have black hair.

A: Exactly.

Student A

  1. In the past, my English was worse. (= So you’re saying your English used to be worse.)
  2. I didn’t like studying as a child. Now I do. (… you didn’t use to like studying.)
  3. I am comfortable driving here. (… you are used to driving here.)
  4. People communicated more face to face in the past. (…. people used to communicate more..)
  5. Some seniors aren’t accustomed to using cellphones. (… aren’t used to using…)
  6. John is becoming comfortable making dinners for himself. (… he is getting/becoming used to making…)
  7. Question: What is something that you didn’t use to like but now you do?
  8. Question: What is something that took you a long time to get used to?

———————— fold ——- paper ———————

Student B

  1. My children are accustomed to staying up late. (So you mean that they are used to staying up late.)
  2. Tina was nicer before. (… she used to be nicer.)
  3. Australians are accustomed to driving on the other side of the road. (… they are used to driving…).
  4. I play guitar now. I didn’t in the past. (… you didn’t use to play guitar.)
  5. I can’t dance well now. I could before, though. (… you used to be able to dance well.)
  6. It takes time to become accustomed to living with another person. (… it takes time to get/become used to living with…)
  7. Question: What are you still not used to?
  8. Question: What is something that you used to do that you wish you still did?


Use to and Be used to are confusing grammar point for students because of their similarity in appearance (not meaning). The worst thing is when a student (mistakenly) says, “I was used to have a job” and you have no idea if they are talking about a past habit (“I used to have a job”) or something they were accustomed to (“I was used to having a job”).

Teach slowly and try to be patient. Hopefully this activity can help reinforce the rules. Best of luck with your English classes.


– Matthew Barton / Creator of Englishcurrent.com

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6 comments on “Speaking: ‘Use to / Be used to / Get used to’ Pair-Work Activity (ESL)

  1. Jaquelyne Cavalcante (Posted on 8-7-2018 at 23:33) Reply

    Thank you very much for sharing it!

  2. Lisa Silva (Posted on 3-17-2019 at 11:52) Reply

    This is a very good and thorough explanation. Thank you!

  3. Anonymous (Posted on 9-14-2019 at 11:54) Reply

    This is a great worksheet to help students practice. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  4. Yana (Posted on 6-22-2021 at 03:48) Reply

    thank you so much!

  5. Leo Perez (Posted on 7-22-2021 at 12:56) Reply

    Nice activity!

  6. Balii Msumari (Posted on 8-11-2021 at 02:25) Reply

    This is the most educative work that I’ve come across recently!
    Thank you for sharing it.

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