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)

Submitted by Stellaaa on Fri, 27/11/2020 - 05:15

I am getting used to this place. I become familiar with this place.Are they the same?

Hello Stellaaa,

In terms of meaning, these are very similar. I think become familiar tends to be used with a sense of recognition - the way something looks or is physically organised - while used to suggests something more like a routine of some sort becoming normal.



The LearnEnglish Team



Hello and thank you for giving me time today. I also want to know difference between would and could.I'm still not sure about those 2 words.

Hello Stellaaa,

I'd suggest you have a look at the Modal verbs section of our Grammar reference. Both 'could' and 'would' are mentioned on several pages in that section and the explanations should give you a good idea of how to use them.

After you study them a bit, let us know if you have any questions -- there's a space for comments on those pages as well and we'd be happy to help you with specific questions.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

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.