'used to' + infinitive and 'be' or 'get used to' + '-ing'

Do you know the difference between I used to drive on the left and I'm used to driving on the left?

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

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Language level

B2 English level (upper intermediate)

Submitted by nodiroshi on Tue, 20/09/2022 - 16:27

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Hello, yesterday I looked for different examples to understand better the difference between "be used to" and "get used to".
I saw couple of examples with "get used to" and my question is - Is it possible and correct to use in these sentences "be used to" instead of "get used to"?

1. How long did it take you to get used to working?
Can I say: "How long did it take you to BE USED TO working?"?

2. David is extremely stressed. He hasn't got used to working so hard.
Can I say: "David is extremely stressed. He hasn't BEEN USED TO working so hard"?

3. Sarah thought she would never get used to New York
Can I say: "Sarah thought she would never BE USED to New York"?

4. I don't think I will ever get used to waking up early
Can I say: "I don't think I will ever BE USED TO waking up early"?

I know that "get used to" is used to talk about process of getting accustomed to sth, but since all examples are about actions which started or happened in the past that means process is complete, isn't it? That's why I'm confused and would like you to help me If you could

Hello nodiroshi,

I can see how that can be a bit confusing. In theory, you could use the sentences with 'be used to', but I think most people would find them slightly strange -- with the exception of 2, where if you said 'He isn't used to working so hard', it would be fine. This is because 2 refers to David's current emotional state ('extremely stressed'), which is directly connected with him not being used to working so hard.

The others refer more to the process than the state. For example, 1 clearly refers to a past process, the change from not working to working. 3 does also and 4 is similar in that it refers to a process that is still happening.

I hope that helps a little. Please feel free to ask further questions if you have them.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ryanzol on Tue, 06/09/2022 - 06:49

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Hello, I have a question between 'didn't use to' and 'wasn't used to'

There is a sample above:
He wasn't used to walking so much and his legs hurt after the hike.

And in test 2, there is another question:
We _____ much positive feedback about our old product, but the new formula is really successful. (the correct answer is A: didn't use to get)
I know there is a grammatical mistake in option B: wasn't use to

I wonder if the I say:
We wasn't used to get much positive feedback about our old product, but the new formula is really successful.

What is the different between 'didn't use to get' and 'wasn't used to get'?

Thank you for answering
Good day

Hello ryanzol,

There are two issues here. The first issue is that it would not be grammatically correct to say 'We *wasn't used to *get much positive feedback' because there are errors in the two words marked with an asterisk. Regarding the first one, with the subject 'we', we don't use 'wasn't' but rather 'weren't'. So if you changed it to 'We weren't used to ...', that would be correct. The other incorrect word is 'get', which should be 'getting' because the word 'to' in 'be used to something' is a preposition, and when prepositions are following by a verb form, the verb form must end in '-ing'.

So the grammatically correct version of your suggested sentence is 'We weren't used to getting much positive feedback about our old product, but the new formula is really successful.' Let's call this corrected version sentence 1.

Let's call the version with 'didn't use to get' sentence 2: 'We didn't use to get much positive feedback about our old product, but the new formula is really successful.'

'be used to something' describes something like an emotional state. Sentence 1 says that we got feedback about the old product from time to time, but mostly it wasn't positive. We routinely got feedback that was neutral or negative -- another way of saying this is 'we weren't used to getting much positive feedback'.

('get used to something' describes the process that leads to the emotional state that 'be used to something' describes. But notice that this is not what sentence 2 says -- it says 'we didn't use to get'.)

'used to' + infinitive describes a past action or state that is no longer true. Sentence 2 says that we routinely got neutral or negative feedback. In this case, this means the same thing as sentence 1. The difference between the two sentences is that the grammar is sentence 1 talks about a state whereas the grammar in sentence 2 talks about an action or state that is no longer true now. In this case, this results in little difference in meaning, but in other cases it could.

I hope this helps you make sense of it.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

 

Submitted by shimon on Tue, 30/08/2022 - 18:57

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Hi,
I would like to understand more clearly this issue, so my question is: when we change the tense to negative or interrogative, we have to change the main verb tense or only change "used to & be/get used to"?
I mean, when we change the tense of main verb we should change also "used to & be/get used to", right?
Ex.1: I didn't use to...
Ex.2: I'm use to...
Ex.3: I get use to..

Tks

Hello shimon,

In affirmative sentences we use 'used to':

I used to live there.

I'm getting used to my new job.

She was used to working to deadlines.

 

When we form negative or interrogative sentences with an extra auxiliary verb such as do or did we use 'use to':

Did you use to live there?

 

When there is already an auxiliary verb we do not change 'used to' to 'use to':

Are you getting used to your new job?

Was she used to working to deadlines?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by itzSaif123457 on Tue, 23/08/2022 - 04:41

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Hi,What is the difference between (i was used to) and (i used to) in meaning? Can pronouns and nouns come after used to like get used to and be used to? And is there any example for using pronouns or nouns after used to or be/get used to?
Thank you.

Hi itzSaif123457,

We use [used to + verb] to describe past habits or past typical states which are no longer true. For example:

She used to visit her grandparents every summer. [a regular habit which she no longer does]

We used to live in Paris. [we don't live there any more]

The negative and interrogative forms are regular: She didn't use to.... / Did she use to...

There is no present or future form of 'used to'.

As I mentioned above, 'used to' is followed by a verb (base form), so pronouns are not possible.

 

We use [be/get used to + -ing/noun] to describe when a situation becomes normal to us and stops being strange. For example:

We moved to the USA last year. At first it was very strange but we're used to it now.

I don't think I'll ever get used to being married!

I think I'm starting to get used to this job.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Blizzard93 on Wed, 27/07/2022 - 19:58

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Hi everyvone, i have a question. I think this sentence is wrong "It took my mother years to get used to living in London after moving from Pakistan", " ... after had moved from Pakistan" sounds more accurate, what i missing?

Hello Blizzard93,

The sentence is fine. You can say 'after she moved' or 'after she had moved', but 'after moving' is probably the most natural choice here.

Phrases such as 'after moving' take their time reference from the rest of the sentence. In other words, if the rest of the sentence had a future meaning (it will take...) then this phrase would also have a future meaning. Here you have a past time reference (it took...) so the phase is also located in the past.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by beto97 on Sun, 24/07/2022 - 02:17

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hello I have a question
In what cases i have to use -ing form of a verb?

Hello beto97,

There are many different situations in which we use the '-ing' form. A good place to start is on our '-ing' forms grammar page.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sayinsu on Sat, 16/07/2022 - 14:57

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I'm getting used to the working culture of my current company. It was fearsome before three years.

Submitted by yahys on Thu, 07/07/2022 - 13:28

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Hi i had a question "i am getting used to [sleeping] there" is sleeping a gerund or a verb(1st form+ing)

Hello yahys,

In this case, 'sleeping' is a gerund. This is because 'to' is a preposition, and prepositions are always followed by noun phrases. A gerund is the nominal ('noun') form of a verb.

The same is true in a phrase like 'He's looking forward to seeing you'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by bridge23d on Thu, 09/06/2022 - 11:02

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I have a question about this:

Hi Westnur, Welcome! We hope you enjoy your English practice here :) If you mean a habitual action in the past (i.e. you don't do it any more), it should be I used to play football in the morning. But if you still play football, you can't use used to. It should be I play football in the morning (present simple). You can add an adverb like usually or regularly to emphasise the habitual meaning. Does that make sense? Best wishes, Jonathan The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir, In reference to above can't we use-I am used to playing football in the morning. Please correct me.

Hello bridge23d,

It's important to distinguish between two different uses of the words used to that are easily confused. These are explained above, but briefly again they are:

1. used to + verb (to speak about a past habitual action that is no longer true)

2. to be used to + noun phrase OR + verb in the -ing form (to speak about something you are accustomed to)

So if you say 'I'm used to playing football in the morning' (2), it's not really talking about a habit. It means it's something normal for you. I can see how that could imply that it's talking about a habitual action (because we are probably accustomed to most of the things we do habitually), but that's a meaning that we add and is not what the grammar expresses.

Many students of mine say 'I'm used to studying English every day' (an action I'm accustomed to) when what they really mean is 'Normally I study English every day' (a habitual action).

Remember that used to + verb always speaks about something that is not true right now. 'I used to study English every day' speaks about the past and it means I don't study English every day in the present.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

Submitted by gerlsdao on Thu, 12/05/2022 - 17:50

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Hi,

Can you please explain what is wrong with this:
I have always been admiring women scientists.

Thanks

Hi gerisdao,

Verbs expressing emotions and feelings are generally not used with continuous aspect, so the correct form would be 'I have always admired...'.

Similar verbs include like, love, hate, desire, approve etc.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by BillJ on Mon, 17/01/2022 - 15:11

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Strictly speaking, the "to" found in expressions such as "I used [to smoke]", is not part of the verb "use", but a marker introducing the infinitival complement clause, as shown in brackets.

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Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Fri, 29/10/2021 - 16:58

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Hello team. Could you please tell me if the following sentence is correct or not? Why? What is the meaning of it?
- My brother often has stomach troubles as he is used to eating fast food.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

The sentence is grammatical in terms of structure but does not make sense. The brother's stomach troubles come from eating, not from being used to eating. Being used to something means that it is not novel, not that it is done frequently or to excess.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by GiulianaAndy on Sun, 18/07/2021 - 19:57

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Hello, great lesson. However, I have a question, it's about filling the gaps with the word in parentheses: (Options: be getting used to/ get used to/ be used to/ used to- You can also use the negative form): 1) I'm English student, so I (speak) English during our video calls on Zoom 2) I have just gotten married, so I (share) my space with another person. It's not easy at all 3) I have had this phone for 10 years, so I (use) it. I know it like the back of my hand

Hello GiulianaAndy,

I'm afraid we don't help with answers to questions from other sites or sources. If we did, we'd soon end up doing users' homework for them! You'll need to ask the author of the questions, or check in a key if there is one.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I used to. I'm getting used to. I'm used to. The meaning of the sentences has too much to do with the correct answers

Submitted by Aziz-12345 on Thu, 18/03/2021 - 04:52

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Plz, can you fill in the blank? He used to see me ......... these clothes (dress-dressed-dressing)

Hello Aziz-12345,

The verb 'dress' doesn't seem right to me here; I'd recommend 'wear' instead. After the verb 'see', we use a bare infinitive form ('wear') to speak about seeing an action in general or an -ing form ('wearing') to speak about seeing an action in process. In this case, I'd suggest and -ing form, I think. It depends a little on what exactly the sentence means.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Maahir on Mon, 15/03/2021 - 13:03

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Hi, I am Maahir. please let me know which sentence is grammatically correct. My friend used to be alone, but know he got married and he has a child too. My friend used to be alone, but now he has a wife and a child too. Thanks in advance.
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Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 19/03/2021 - 07:15

In reply to by Maahir

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Hi Maahir,

The correct spelling here is 'now', so the second sentecne is correct.

 

Generally, we don't provide answers to questions like this one. We try to offer explanations of how language works rather than just right or wrong answers as otherwise we would end up doing our users' homework for them!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nayoung on Thu, 11/03/2021 - 14:17

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Hi, I've got a question. In my book there is an example that I can't change to "used to infinitive form". My father has worked in several different countries so I've been to lots of different schools. But I think that present perfect tense(has worked) indicates that it happened at times in the past so that it can be changed to 'used to work in several different countries,'

Hello Nayoung,

The sentence about your father uses the present perfect, which implies that your father is still moving from country from time to time. 'be used to' can only be used to talk about past actions that we no longer do, so your book is right -- it's not correct to use it here.

If your father were retired now and the original sentence had the past simple ('worked in several countries'), then it would be possible to use 'used to' there. But 'I've been to' would not be correct. This is a statement about your life experience and so it wouldn't be correct to use 'used to' as long as you are alive.

Best wishes,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by jennie1996 on Sun, 07/03/2021 - 02:17

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Hi, im Jennie. I've a question to ask so the question is "Linda isn't used to live/living alone, so sometimes she feels lonely." what is the correct answer? live or living?

Hi jennie1996,

It should be living, because it follows isn't used to. :)

It would be live if the sentence was Linda used to live ... or Linda didn't use to live ..., but this has a different meaning.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Yokohama on Thu, 04/03/2021 - 05:12

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Hello, I have come across the version of "used to" in questions when it was used like this "Did you used to work in a restaurant?" [interrogative] Now, considering that there is no phrase like "use to", it actually now makes sense to me that even if we ask and say "Did", we still need to use the phrase in full i.e. "used to". Could you please let me know what you think of this new version?
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Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 05/03/2021 - 08:56

In reply to by Yokohama

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Hello Yokohama,

In a question, 'did you use to' is actually the correct form, not 'did you used to', though the word 'use' is very often misspelled here.

I'm not completely sure I've answered your question. If not, could you please rephrase it? It wasn't completely clear to me what you were asking.

Sorry.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ryanmicah on Sun, 21/02/2021 - 14:43

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Is this correct? I am getting used to + infinitive form of the verb Example: I am getting used to eat/play/live

Hello ryanmicah,

No, that's not correct. In the phrase 'get used to' the word 'to' is not part of an infinitive but is rather a preposition. It is followed by an object, which means here a noun or a gerund, The correct form is:

I am getting used to eating/playing/living etc.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by DanilaKorobkov on Sun, 07/02/2021 - 08:59

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Is there a difference between? 1) I will be used to my new job 2) I will get used to my new job.

Hello DanilaKorobkov,

Yes, there is some difference. In 1, 'be used to' means that you are already familiar with the new job. In 2, 'get used to' means that you are in the process of becoming familiar with the new job.

In other words, in 1, you are already used to it; perhaps it doesn't really feel new to you any more, since it feels normal to you now. In 2, you aren't used to it yet, though you are beginning to be more used to it -- it doesn't feel normal to you yet, though maybe not completely strange either.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Memmedeva Nezrin on Sat, 30/01/2021 - 08:30

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Helllo! I dont understand the difference betweeen used to and use to very well.Could you lease explain it by showing examples or the structure?
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 30/01/2021 - 09:06

In reply to by Memmedeva Nezrin

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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]

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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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,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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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.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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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)