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 (165 votes)

Submitted by rokaia mohamed on Sun, 16/07/2023 - 12:26


Dear teachers,
can you please explain me why in this sentences "Our house is on a steep hill, but I _got used to____ the walk after a month of living here". the answer got used to not get used to

Hello rokaia mohamed,

The phrase 'after a month of living there' makes it clear that the process of getting used to the walk occurred in the past. This is why the correct answer 'got used to' is in the past simple rather than in the present simple ('get used to').

Does that make sense?

All the best,
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by jailany on Wed, 12/07/2023 - 14:20


Hi, friends and teachers. Can anyone explain to me the difference between (get used to something) and (be used to something). I'm really confused about that. I'll be very grateful, if support your reply with some examples.

Hi jailany,

"Get used to" means to gradually become familiar or comfortable with something. The thing becomes no longer strange, unusual or unexpected for you. In this phrase, "get" has the meaning of "become". So, it shows the process of the thing changing from unfamiliar to familiar. For example:

  • I moved to a new city last month. It's much colder than my home town but I'm getting used to it(= I am becoming more comfortable with the cold weather.)
  • When I first started wearing glasses, it took me a long time to get used to them(= After a long time, the glasses became comfortable for me.)

"Be used to" means to be familiar of comfortable with something. It just shows the end result, i.e. that you feel familiar/comfortable (unlike "get used to", which shows the gradual process of change to become like that). For example:

  • I moved to a new city last month. It's much colder than my home town but now I am used to it(= I am comfortable with the cold weather now.)
  • When I first started wearing glasses, I wasn't used to it at all. (= I was not comfortable with wearing glasses at that time.)

In summary, the difference is whether it shows a change (get used to) or a state (be used to). "Get used to" is often used when the speaker/writer wants to emphasise the gradual process of becoming familiar, or the idea that the process is not yet complete (e.g. I'm getting used to it).

Does that answer your question?


LearnEnglish team

Profile picture for user _.Yacine._

Submitted by _.Yacine._ on Thu, 29/06/2023 - 19:10


Hello teachers,
Can I use "get used to" with the present perfect ?
For example, can I say : "Since a couple days, I have got used to practising my english every day" ? Does it make sense either ?
Thank you.

Hello _.Yacine._,

Yes, you can say that. However, you should use 'Since a couple of days ago' as you are referring to a point in time here, not a period of time.



The LearnEnglish Team

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!