‘used to + infinitive’ and ‘be/get used to’
People often get confused about the use of used to + infinitive and be/get used to + ‘ing’ form because they look similar. They are, however, completely different.
‘used to + infinitive’
We use ‘used to’ to talk about things that happened in the past – actions or states – that no longer happen now.
- She used to be a long distance runner when she was younger.
- I used to eat meat but I became a vegetarian 5 years ago.
The negative is ‘didn’t use to’ and questions are formed with ‘Did you use to …?’
There is no present tense equivalent of ‘used to’. To talk about present habits we use the present simple and an adverb of frequency (usually, always, often, never, etc.)
e.g. I often eat at the Japanese restaurant in the city centre.
‘be/get used to’
If you are used to something, you are accustomed to it – you don’t find it unusual. If you get used to something or you are getting used to something you are becoming accustomed to it – it was strange, now it’s not so strange.
- I found Slovak food very strange at first but I’m used to it now.
- I’m getting used to driving on the right.
Both ‘be used to’ and ‘get used to’ are followed by a noun (or pronoun) or the gerund – the ‘ing’ form of a verb.
- I can’t get used to getting up so early. I’m tired all the time.
- He’s not used to the weather here yet. He’s finding it very cold.
‘Be/get used to’ can be used with past, present and future tenses.
- You might find it strange at first but you’ll soon get used to it.
- He wasn’t used to the heat and he caught sunstroke.