Thursday, November 11, 2010

Get vs. Be used to

Be used to

Be used to is used to show previous experience and familiarity with a certain situation. For example:
- I am used to living abroad. - I have previous experience living abroad, so it's not difficult for me.
- Jane isn't used to living abroad. - She doesn't have much experience living abroad, or if she does it is still difficult for her.
- Paul is used to learning languages. - Paul has learnt languages before, so he's good at it.
- Carol has never studied a foreign language, so she's not used to it. - Carol doesn't have previous experience learning a foreign language.

Get used to

Get used to is used for the process of acquiring experience and ability. In the beginning we are less experienced, then we get used to something - we go through a process of gaining experience. For example:
- I wasn't used to living abroad, but I got used to it. - I didn't have experience living abroad, but I grew in experience until I was happy living abroad.
- I didn't like bananas, but I got used to them. - In the beginning I didn't like bananas, but after a while I learnt to like them.


In the structure be / get used to, to is a preposition, not part of the to-infinitive. For example:
- I'm used to cooking for myself. OK
- I'm used to cook for myself. Incorrect - "to cook" is a to-infinitive and can't be used here.
- I'm used to cooking for myself. OK

Used to - be/get used to

Used to is a completely different structure from be / get used to. Used to is for past habit, be used to means to get accustomed to something.

Try these exercises:


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Can could or able to? That's the question.

Can, could, be able to

We use can to say that something is possible or that somebody has the ability to do something. We use can + infinitive (can do / can see etc.):

• We can see the lake from our bedroom window.

• Can you speak any foreign languages?

• I can come and see you tomorrow if you like.

The negative is can't (= cannot):

• I'm afraid I can't come to the party on Friday.

(Be) able to... is possible instead of can, but can is more usual:

• Are you able to speak any foreign languages?

But can has only two forms, can (present) and could (past). So sometimes it is necessary to use (be) able to..

• I can't sleep. but I haven't been able to sleep recently, (can has no present perfect)

• Tom can come tomorrow, but Tom might be able to come tomorrow, (can has no infinitive)

Could and was able to...

Sometimes could is the past of can. We use could especially with:
See/ hear/ smell/ taste/ feel/ remember/ understand

• When we went into the house, we could smell burning.

• She spoke in a very low voice, but I could understand what she said.

We also use could to say that somebody had the general ability or permission to do something:
• My grandfather could speak five languages.

• We were completely free. We could do what we wanted. (= we were allowed to do...)

We use could for general ability. But if we are talking about what happened in a particular situation, we use was/were able to... or managed to... (Not could):

• The fire spread through the building quickly but everybody was able to escape. or everybody managed to escape, (but not 'could escape')

• They didn't want to come with us at first but we managed to persuade them. or ...we were able to persuade them, (but not 'could persuade')


• Jack was an excellent tennis player. He could beat anybody. (= he had the general ability to beat anybody) but

• Jack and Alf had a game of tennis yesterday. Alf played very well but in the end Jack managed to beat him. or ...was able to beat him. (= he managed to beat him in this particular game)

The negative couldn't (could not) is possible in all situations:
• My grandfather couldn't swim.

• We tried hard but we couldn't persuade them to come with us.

• Alf played well but he couldn't beat Jack.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Word Skills-all levels

For beginners to advanced learners,all of you will find something here. Try it out.
Oxford Word Skills