Used to/Be used to


Phrases with used to and be used to have quite different meanings. Due to their similarity they are often confused. We use one to talk about past habbits and the other for things which have become familiar. Here, we explain the uses of these two phrases in English.

When I was a student, I used to sleep in until 11 o’clock every day.

Now that I have a job, I have to start work early.

Waking up at 5 o’clock was difficulat at first but I am used to it now.


used to + infinitive

We use the structure used to + infinitive to talk about habits from the past that we no longer have or a state that has changed. Note that this structure is only used in the past. There is no present, progressive or future form. To talk about present habits, we use present simple often with adverbs of frequency (always, usually, etc.).

When I was a student, I used to sleep until 11 o’clock, now I get up early.

We use used to when a state has changed or habits/circumstances are no longer the same as before.

Before I became vegan, I used to drink milk every day.

I drank milk every day for 10 years. Now circumstances have changed and I no longer drink milk.

I slept in last Sunday. (not: I used to sleep in last sunday.)

Use the simple past to say when something happened.

We form questions and negatives with did. In written English, both did … use and did … used are both possible.

How often did you use(d) to drink milk?
I didn’t use(d) to like waking up early.

We can also use never to form negatives.

I never used to wake up early.

We usually put adverbs before used to.

I always used to wake up after 10:30 am.

be used to + noun/gerund

We use the structure be + used to + noun/pronoun/gerund to indicated that someone has become/is familiar or accustomed to something.

Waking up at 5 o’clock was difficult at first but I am used to it now.

We often use the verbs go, grow and get with used to.

Don’t worry, you’ll get used to waking up early.