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 (164 votes)
Profile picture for user Peter M.

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"
Profile picture for user Peter M.

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 " ?

Hello Sara hesham,

We say get used to something when there is a change over time from something being new or strange to it becoming familiar. Your first sentence is like this: at first sleeping with the lights on was strange but it then became normal.


We say be used to something when something is normal for us. It does not tell us anything about change: it could be something that was never strange for us, or it could be something that became normal over time. This is the meaning of your second sentence.


We use used to do something when we did something regularly or normally in the past but do not do it anymore. This is the meaning of your third sentence.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much for the explanation. It helps me a lot to understand the difference. Thu Ha

Submitted by Viktoria on Sat, 12/09/2020 - 14:30

Hi I can't understand when I can use infinitive after get use to and when " ing" form of the verb
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Sat, 12/09/2020 - 15:45

In reply to by Viktoria


Hello Viktoria,

There is no time I can think of when an infinitive is used after 'get used to'. The 'to' in 'get used to' is not part of a verb -- it is a preposition. After a preposition, we can put a noun (e.g. 'get used to the weather') or a verb in the '-ing' form (e.g. 'get used to speaking French'). We use this form to speak about how we feel about something.

Note that this is different from 'used to' + infinitive, which is used to speak about past habitual actions that are no longer true.

Does that make sense?

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by mcambindo22 on Sun, 30/08/2020 - 17:16

Interesting grammar rules, I only knew how to use 'used to' but now I realise the importance regarding use 'get used to' and 'be used to' so that these new concepts allow to show more knowledge about English so native speaker could feel that and may talk to you natural.
Profile picture for user Westnur

Submitted by Westnur on Sun, 23/08/2020 - 20:57

Dear team, I'm new hear and today is my first day. So, my question is, is it possible to say " I do used to play football in the morning" for some habitual action. Thanks