Different uses of 'used to'

Different uses of 'used to'

Do you know the difference between I used to drive on the left and I'm used to driving on the left? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how used to, get used to and be used to are used.

I used to want to be a lawyer but then I realised how hard they work!
How's Boston? Are you used to the cold weather yet?
No matter how many times I fly, I'll never get used to take-off and landing!

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

'used to' + infinitive and 'be' or 'get used to' + '-ing': Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

Used to + infinitive and be/get used to + -ing look similar but they have very different uses.

used to

We use used to + infinitive to talk about a past situation that is no longer true. It tells us that there was a repeated action or state in the past which has now changed.

She used to be a long-distance runner when she was younger.
I didn't use to sleep very well, but then I started doing yoga and it really helps.
Did you use to come here as a child?

be used to and get used to

Be used to means 'be familiar with' or 'be accustomed to'.

She's used to the city now and doesn't get lost any more.
He wasn't used to walking so much and his legs hurt after the hike.
I'm a teacher so I'm used to speaking in public.

We use get used to to talk about the process of becoming familiar with something.  

I'm finding this new job hard but I'm sure I'll get used to it soon.
It took my mother years to get used to living in London after moving from Pakistan.
I'm getting used to the noise now. I found it really stressful when I first moved in.

Be used to and get used to are followed by a noun, pronoun or the -ing form of a verb, and can be used about the past, present or future.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

'used to' + infinitive and 'be' or 'get used to' + '-ing': Grammar test 2

Language level

Average: 4.1 (152 votes)

Hello cha14,

In this context 'take-off' is a noun and it is grammatically correct. We often use this form:

What time is take-off?

With such a strong wind that was a difficult take-off!


It's also correct to use 'taking off' here. There is no difference in meaning.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by danybern on Sat, 24/10/2020 - 18:23

Hi I have a question, on Monday I am having an English exam and I did not understand the form get used to in some sentences. How can we know what to use "get" or "got" in the sentence for example in this one GET-- Jenny is worried that she won't be able to get used to the Peruvian lifestyle. GOT--- The children quickly got used to their new school.

Hello danybern,

The difference is the time that the getting used to happens. 'get' is present tense and 'got' is past tense. Notice that in the first sentence, the verbs are 'is worried' and 'won't be able', which refer to the present and future -- so 'get' is better than 'got'.

The second sentence is about the past and so 'got' is more appropriate.

Hope this make sense.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by John A. on Mon, 19/10/2020 - 19:07

Hi, In the third sentence, (I work from home so I _____ people around me all day.) I didn't get why it was "m used to not having" rather than "m not used to have" Thanks in advance for your help.
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Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 20/10/2020 - 08:34

In reply to by John A.


Hi John A.

Two answers are possible here:

I'm used to not having...

I'm not used to having...

In this context, there is little if any difference between them.


In the construction 'be used to','to' is a preposition, not a part of the infinitive. It is followed by an object, generally a noun or gerund:

I'm used to my office.

I'm used to taking the bus to work.

I'm used to not having people around me.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter. I'm a little bit confused between "used to not having" and "not used to having" in that context. According to the question (I work from home, so I____people around me all day) Since I work from home, 1. Does "I'm used to not having people around me" mean: I'm used to working without my co-wokers? My focus was in the words "not having" 2. Does "I'm not used to having people around me" mean: I'm not used to working with all of people in my house? Because my focus was in the words "I'm not used to"
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Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 02/12/2020 - 08:23

In reply to by arik


Hello arik,

1. Yes, that's correct: used to not having means that for you it is normal to not have...

2. Yes, again that's correct: not used to having means that for you it is not normal to have...


In your context I don't think there is any difference, so both forms work equally well. You can say you are used to an absence of people (used to not having) or that you are not used to a presence (not used to having); it's really two ways of saying the same thing.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sara hesham on Mon, 05/10/2020 - 12:30

what's the difference between " I got used to sleeping with the lights on " " I was used to sleeping with the lights on " " I used to sleep with the lights on " ?