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 (140 votes)

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