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 Sat, 30/01/2021 - 09:06

In reply to by Memmedeva Nezrin


Hello Memmedeva Nezrin,

The form use to appears in negative and interrogative sentences when talking about past habits, as described in the first section on the page:

I used to work in a restaurant. [affirmative]

I didn't use to work in a restaurant. [negative]

Did you use to work in a restaurant? [interrogative]



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by hardikpatild on Fri, 22/01/2021 - 15:04

Can we use present continuous tense in get used to??

Hi hardikpatild,

Yes! Here are some examples.

  • My new job is difficult but I'm getting used to it.
  • How do you find living by yourself? Are you getting used to it?
  • She's getting used to working from home. She's been doing it for a few weeks now.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by soniariverofdez on Sun, 27/12/2020 - 18:54

hello, I have a question, so if we need "be + used to+ gerund-ing" Why in the first activity there is a sentence: How's the new job? Are you used to it yet? I can't see the gerund... I don't understand.

Hi soniariverofdez,

Yes, be used to can be followed by the gerund! But it's not the only possible structure. It can also be followed by:

  • a noun phrase (e.g. I'm not used to my new job.)
  • a pronoun (e.g. I'm not used to it.)

Does that make sense? There are some more examples of these structures in the activities above.


The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user susanavali

Submitted by susanavali on Sun, 06/12/2020 - 20:22

Hi thank you for your lessons, they are so useful , but have some problems with this lesson and the practices , I will share my problems with you and I hope you explain to me why should we choose these answers, thank you. We _____ much positive feedback about our old product, but the new formula is really successful. (didn't use to get) Even though I loved my old job, I _____ the long hours. (couldn't get used to) I _____ the guitar but I don't have time now. (used to play)
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 07/12/2020 - 07:54

In reply to by susanavali


Hi susanavali,

In the first sentence you are describing an repeated/typical/normal action in the past which is no longer true. Thus 'used to' is needed. In this context you need a negative as the word 'much' is generally used in questions and negatives; also, the contrast with getting positive feedback now makes it plain that it was different in the past. Thus 'didn't use to' is the answer.


In the second example, we are talking about trying to accept something which was difficult (long hours). The speaker tried to accept the long hours as normal but failed. Thus 'couldn't get used to' is the correct form.


In the third example the meaning is similar to the first. We have a regular past action (playing the guitar) which is no longer true. Hence, 'used to play' is needed.



The LearnEnglish Team

I am sorry, but in the test the correct answer to the first sentence was use to instead of used to.Is there any difference?

Hello Memmedeva Nezrin,

I'm afraid you're mistaken. I've checked both tasks and the answers to the first questions are used to work (task 1) and got used to (task 2).



The LearnEnglish Team