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: 3.9 (70 votes)
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Submitted by Loredana Bonazzoli on Wed, 10/05/2023 - 10:26


Dear teachers,
can you please explain me why in the sentences like "I'm used to speaking in public" or "he wasn't used to walking so much" I must use the gerund ? is it because of the past simple and past continuous?

Hello Loredana Bonazzoli,

In this construction 'to' is a preposition, not a part of the infinitive. You can follow it with a noun or a gerund, not a verb. For example:

She's used to her uniform now. [to + noun]

She's used to wearing her uniform now. [to + gerund]



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Amy18295 on Sat, 22/04/2023 - 08:43


Hi teachers,

In the sentence: " The women gathered around the coffin and began to wail, as was the custom in the region"
I don't get why they they use " as was" here?
Pleas help explain the meaning of this sentence and advise which types the word "as" is ? is it conjunction?
If any, please also help share me a grammar lesson link related to the phrase "as + be+ N"

Many thanks for your help!

Hello Amy18295,

'as' can mean something like 'in the way that', which is the way it's used here I'd say. So what that clause means is that it was customary in that region for women to gather around a coffin and wail.

In this use, 'as' is a conjunction, though it can also be a preposition. I'd suggest having a look at our Using 'as' and 'like' page.

All the best,
LearnEnglish team


Dear teacher,

I hope you're doing well and thanks for your prompt reply.

However, I have 1 more question for this case.
If "as" was a conjunction, so please help indicate the subject for the verb "was", following the word "as"


Hello again Amy,

The word 'as' replaces the subject in this case. This is somewhat unusual grammar, though it does occur with a few other phrases similar to 'as is/was known' such as 'as was agreed' and 'as was expected'. In these cases, the verb is passive and 'as' acts as a kind of subject, though I'm not sure it's really proper to call it the subject.

When the verb isn't passive, the grammar is easier to make sense: 'as you know', 'as we agreed', 'as custom dictates', etc.

I hope that helps you make sense of it.

All the best,
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Dante2023 on Wed, 22/02/2023 - 13:57


to be honest, this's a little bit confusing, I find it hard to understand the difference between "being familiar with something" (or not) and "the process of being familiar with something (or not)..
for example I say : "Even though I loved my old job, I couldn't used to the long hours."
example 2 : "Even though I loved my old job, I couldn't get used to the long hours."...so what is the difference between these two sentences? thanks.

Hi Dante2023,

The first example is not a correct sentence. You can't say 'couldn't used to'.

The two forms here are 'be used to' and 'get used to'.


We say 'be used to' to describe a state. For example:

I am used to my job > the job is normal for me and nothing new; it is familiar.


We say 'get used to' to describe the process of familiarisation. For example:

It took me a year to get used to this job > at first it was strange and it only became familiar later 


You can use the two together:

It took me a long time to get used to the situation, but I am used to it now.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for the feedback,
so as I understand "the process of being familiar with something" -refers to- or explains the time or the duration needed to "get used to something"..guide me if I'm wrong, Thanks.

Hi Dante2023,

Yes, that's correct. It's similar to getting angry (the process) and being angry (the state).



The LearnEnglish Team