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 howtosay_ on Fri, 22/09/2023 - 01:21

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Hello, dear teachers and team!

Could you please help me by saying which option is correct:

1. I am used not to be dependent on somebody.

2, I am not used to be dependent on somebody.

3. I am used to not having conflicts at work.

4. I am not used to having conflicts at work.

Finding your website has been a real treasure. Thank you so much for your consistent help and I'm grateful for the answer to this post beforehand!!!

Hi howtosay_,

We are always glad to hear what learners think of our website. Thanks for your kind comment!

Sentence 1 is not correct because of the position of "not". It should be as in sentence 2. Also in 1 and 2, change "be" to "being" because "to be (not) used to" should be followed by the -ing verb form (or otherwise a noun or pronoun): I am not used to being dependent on somebody.

Sentences 3 and 4 are both correct. They can both mean that the person doesn't have conflicts at work, and this is the usual situation. But alternatively, 4 may suggest that the person does actually have conflicts at work, but feels unaccustomed to it. It's a small difference, and probably unimportant.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Khangvo2812 on Sun, 06/08/2023 - 11:32

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Hello,
Could you check this sentence for me?
I used to play badminton every week , but now I only play it twice a week as I’m quite busy with my assignments.

Submitted by User_1 on Tue, 25/07/2023 - 15:09

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Hello,
I would ask you more about the difference between "Get used to"
and "Be used to". For instance, if I write:
"As a learner, I am getting used to practising English to improve my skills". In this case, my focus is on the process of becoming familiar with English.
While the sentence:
"As a learner, I am used to practising English to improve my skills" describes the final step of the process and overcoming the difficulties.
Is that right?
Although there is no end of learning, this is an ongoing process.
Thanks for help.

Hi User_1,

Yes, that's exactly it! "I am getting used to ..." shows that the process of becoming familiar with English is not yet complete and it is still ongoing, while "I am used to ..." shows that I am already familiar and the process is complete.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Hi Jonathan,
Thank you for clarifying that.
Even if the process of learning a second language is an ongoing process, so in the reality the correct sentence is:
"As a learner, I am getting used to practising English to improve my skills".
Please, could you tell me if I write clearly when I ask questions?
Thanks a lot!

Hello User_1,

I hope you don't mind me stepping in to the conversation.

To answer your second question first, yes, your questions are quite clear and you are a good writer. Keep practising and you'll get even better, I'm sure.

Regarding your first question:

"As a learner, I am used to practising English to improve my skills" describes the final step of the process and overcoming the difficulties.

I think you could still say this. To me, it means that you have developed the habit of practising English. You may still practise English for the rest of your life -- in this sense, the process and learning are continuing -- but what you don't have to develop any further is the habit of improving your English through practice.

When you say 'As a learner, I am getting used to practising English to improve my skills', it suggests to me that you are still developing the habit of practising.

So I'd say both of these statements can be true.

I hope I haven't made the issue more confusing for you! If so, please don't hesitate to ask.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Hello Kirk,
I am glad of your stepping in to the conversation.
Getting feedback from you, as teachers, is really helpful for my learning.
Thanks for your reply.
I got the meaning of your explanation, so I can say:
"As a learner, I am used to practising English to improve my skills"
since I have developed the habit of practising English every day.

I value your feedback and support.
Thanks a lot!