The Difference: Used To vs. Get Used To vs. Be Used To in English
Note: This lesson was originally published in June 2017 and has been updated with new content including a video lesson and quiz.
- I used to do yoga 3 times a week.
- I am used to doing yoga three times a week.
- I was used to doing yoga three times a week.
- I am getting used to doing yoga three times a week.
- I got used to doing yoga three times a week.
What exactly is the difference between these sentences?
They look rather similar, so they must mean the same thing, right?
With this Confident English lesson, you’re going to learn the precise differences in
meaning, use, and structure when using used to, get used to, and be used to so you get them
right every time.
And, at the end, I have a short quiz for you so you can test your know-how.
The Differences Between Used To + Be/Get Used To in English
Let’s start with a focus on used to – its meaning and structure – because it’s quite different from be or get used to.
Review these example sentences to see if you can identify the meaning of used to and its
● I used to drink coffee, but now I only drink green tea.
● She used to live in Los Angeles but now she lives in Chicago.
● We used to go to see a movie every Friday night but now we prefer to stay home.
What do those sentences tell you?
By using the used to + infinitive verb (used to drink, used to live, used to go), we are highlighting past repeated actions or states of being that are no longer true.
Used to drink is a past action that I repeated regularly. But now that is no longer true.
Similarly, used to go is a past action that we repeated regularly, but is no longer true.
Used to live isn’t really an action. It’s not something you do. It’s something that is – a state of being. And, again, this is something that WAS true but not anymore.
Before we focus on the grammatical structure, I want to address two common questions on used to vs. past simple and the pronunciation of used to.
- Number 1: Why do we say “She used to live in Los Angeles but now she lives in
Chicago.” Can’t I just say, “She lived in Los Angeles but now she lives in Chicago?”
- Number 2: What is the pronunciation – is it used to or use to?
So first, couldn’t you just use the simple past form with ‘She lived in Los Angeles…”
Yes, you could sometimes but let’s look at this scenario.
An old friend from high school reaches out to you online. You haven’t spoken in YEARS! And she says, “Your profile says you live in Chicago but I thought you lived in LA?”
To clarify what WAS true in the past you would say, “Oh, yeah, I used to live in LA but now I live in Chicago.”
This emphasizes that what was true in the past is no longer true.
And second, pronunciation. This is a tricky one.
In English, when we say the past form of the verb use, you’ll hear used with /z/ and /d/.
- I used a red pen to mark the exam.
- We used all our hotel points to get an upgrade on our room.
But when we combine used with the to, it’s kind of hard to use that /z/ + /d/ sound + to. It’s
difficult to have that strong /d/ followed by a strong /t/ in used to.
So, what you’ll hear sounds like use to with more of an /s/ sound at the end of used.
Used To + Infinitive Verb
In each sentence you’ll see we use: used to + infinitive verb form:
● used to drink
● used to live
● used to go
It is only used in the simple past form because it focuses on a past repeated action, habit, or state that is no longer true.
Be Used To and Get Used To
Let’s start with the similarities.
Unlike used to, which can only be used in the past form, be used to and get used to can be
used in the present, past, and future forms:
● I am used to doing yoga early in the morning.
● I was used to doing yoga early in the morning.
● I will be used to doing yoga in the early morning soon.
● I am getting used to doing yoga early in the morning.
● I got used to doing yoga early in the morning.
● I will get used to doing yoga early in the morning.
Not only can we use both in the present, past, and future forms but they also follow the same grammatical structure.
Be/Get Used To + Noun Phrase / Pronoun / -ing Form of Verb
Review the examples below to note the similarities in sentence structure.
- At first, it was difficult, but now she is used to the constant street noise at night. (Be Used To + Noun Phrase)
- When her husband started his new job, he had to get up much earlier than before. It took a while but with time she got used to him waking up early. (Got Used To + Pronoun)
- I will get used to doing yoga early in the morning soon. I just need to keep building my habit. (Get Used To + -ing Form of Verb)
To be used to = you are (or aren’t) familiar with or accustomed to something. It is one or the other.
● I’m used to waking early every morning.
● I’m not used to waking early every morning yet.
There’s no middle ground here.
That’s where get used to comes in.
To get used to = you are in the process of becoming familiar with or becoming
accustomed to something.
It’s not 100% familiar yet. But you’re on your way. You’re working toward it.
● I’m getting used to waking early in the morning. (I’m in the process – some days are
easier than others; it’s not a habit yet.)
● I got used to waking up early in the morning after a few months. (My process took time
but eventually, I became accustomed to waking up early.)
Practice with a quiz on used to + be/get used to.
Now that you’ve reviewed the lesson, let’s try a quick quiz.
Review the sentences below. Determine whether to use used to, be used to, or get used to and use the correct time tense.
You can find the answers to the quiz in the comments below.
- When we adopted our puppy, it was quite an adjustment but now we __________
walking him several times a day.
- I _______ to have a strong accent in my second language but, with time and practice, I’ve made a lot of improvements.
- I need to lower my caffeine intake, which means drinking less coffee. It hasn’t been easy. I’m still ____________ drinking tea instead.
- He ________ workout every day of the week but after his injury, he’s had to reduce it to 3-4 days per week.
- It took several months but she _________ her new role and responsibilities in the company now.
Don’t forget to share your comments and questions with me below.
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Here are the answers to the quiz:
1. Are used to
2. Used to
3. Getting used to
4. Used to
5. Is used to
this is really an impressive lesson
what is the difference between I used to vs I was used to ….?:)
Hi I’m Elsa ,
First of all, I would like to say thank you for sharing this lesson to me .I found it helpful .I really want to practice using linking words/phrases in English. I need your to recommend me some resources such as websites, podcasts…that you think helpful to me to improve English speaking skills using linking words or phrases.
Hi Annemarie, thank you for your lessons, for the first sentence of the quiz, we can’t use we got used to walking him several times a day???
why do we use will get used to not will get use to?
Thank you very much for this 1st lesson…for me. I try 3 examples:
When I was young I used to live in the country; now I live in a city.
Everyday I am used to buying the newspaper in the shop near my office.
When I shall go on holidays to Turkey, I shall get used to drinking strong coffees.
Great examples, Ugo. Well done.
I use to speak english when i was in my country bu when i move to Sweden i all my focus on swedish. I am getting use to swedish weather system.
Nice work, Adama. And I hope you’re enjoying the Swedish winters! 🙂
I used to teach Portuguese for some students with difficulties in my school.
I used to go to the gym on Saturdays.
I used to drink a lot of soda every day.
Great examples, Thadeu. Thank you for sharing them. One quick note: we want to change the preposition for in the sentence, “I used to teach Portuguese ______ some students…” –> any idea what we should change it to?
I used to think that I would never be a fluent English speaker, however the more I practiced the more I got used to speaking confidently.
Excellent sentence and example with used to think and got used to. Well done.
Hi Annemarie, I’ve been quite busy the last months but now I’m looking forward to joining your English lessons again 🙂 Thank you for sharing all your tips, I find your videos very helpfull. When I moved to the city from the countryside it took some time before I got used to living surrounded by houses, and that the distances are so short that you don’t need a car. I used to run three times a week but for the time being I have a knee injury. I really hope it’ll get better soon because I’ll never get used to… Read more »
It’s great to have you back and enjoying the lessons! I’m glad that you find them so useful to you.
Excellent examples with got used to and used to. And with the last sentence, it’s actually okay. It does sound awkward but it works. Nicely done. 🙂
Very many thanks for your constant efforts to strengthen our skill for writing and speaking English. I’m sharing my examples here:
1) I used to read the books of Victor Hugo when I was studying in class Xth.
2) I’m used to reading the newspaper every day.
3) Now I’m thinking how I would get used to reading the newspaper every day in my old age.
Thank you for the comments and for sharing your examples, Debashis. You’ve provided some excellent sentences here. Well done. Did you really read all of Victor Hugo’s books?
I used to walk a lot when I lived in Saint Petersburg Russia. Though I’ve lived in the USA for the past 17 years, I still can’t get used to driving.
I’m used to speak English, but I can’t get used to driving so much.
Well done, Milla! Just a quick reminder: when using to be used to it’s combined with an -ing word. How might you change your last sentence?
Thank You Annemeria For The Wonderful Lessons,
1.I Used To Wake Up Every Morning at 3.30 am To Go Masjid For Pray
2.Now I am Used To Fasting Because of The Month Of Ramadan
3.I want To Get Used To Improve My English Language.
Thank you for sharing your examples. And I’m glad you enjoy my lessons.
Excellent example sentences. But I have one question: why did you use a capital letter for each word?
Hello, Anne Marie my best English teacher ever ! Thank you for this very important lesson.
When my father was alive, we used to go to a cinema every Saturday at 5:00 pm, I used to praying for my father everyday, when my father died I got used to cope with the situation.
Thank you for the kind comment and for sharing your examples. Good work with “We used to go…”
Let’s make a couple of small changes with:
“I ___ used to praying…” –> We’re missing a verb here. What might it be?
And, “I got used to ______ with…” –> We want to use an -ing word here. How could you change it?
1. I used to go to the gym, but now I go for a long walk with my daugter.
2. I am used to brushing my teeth every morning and evening.
3. I always drive on the right. I can’t imagine how I would get used to driving on the left.
Well done, Rasa. Great examples.
I used to go swimming when I was at high school.
I am used to drink a cup coffee every morning, but now I get used to drink a cup of ginger tee.
Great Evelyn. One quick note: don’t forget that with be used to and get used to, we need the -ing form. How might you change your second example?
Thanks alot for your help.
I used to play basketball when I was in elementary school.
I am used to eating healthy food everyday.
I am getting used to my new eyeglasses.
Fantastic examples, Roula. Well done.
Hello,Annemarie!I appreciate you for this lesson and opportunity to check myself.(l’m a little bit shy)
I used to very tired when I was pregnant last summer,but now I have three children and I feel full of energy.
I’m used to playing whith my kids a lot of time during the day.
I’ll get used to waking up more
early that l’ll have a bit more time for myself.
I am still loking forvard to hearing from you)))
Thank you for the reminder!! 🙂
Wow – I’m impressed that you’re full of energy with 3 children, Marina!! 😉
And great example sentences. One note: I used to _____ very tired when I was… –> We’re missing a verb here. What might it be?
Good job with “I’m used to playing…” and “I’ll get used to waking up…”
One last note: more early –> We should change this to an -er word. How would you change it?
Thank you for sharing your examples! I’m glad you did.
Good afternoon from Vietnam!
I used to read some pages of a grammar book or a course book to learn English everyday, but I cannot get used to this helpful and useful habit even five minutes a day. I have tried a lot to be used to learn at least 5 English words per day, and I failed. Learning English is an interesting activity to me now.
Well done with your examples, Cao. And I understand, it is hard and it does take time to develop a daily English habit. But don’t give up! I know you can succeed.
Thank you for this lesson. Here are a few examples of mine:
– I used to do different kinds of sport but now, unfortunately, I don’t find time for it.
– I’m used to taking long walks in the evening. / I’m used to staying up late.
– I’m getting used to speaking German in my new place. / I’m getting used to the local customs some of which seem to be a bit strange to me.
Great, Lilianne! Thanks for sharing your examples.
And I’m curious, have you recently moved to Germany? You said you’re getting used to speaking German. If yes, are you enjoying it?
Thank you Annemarie for the wonderful lesson. I think now I will use these phrases correctly.
I used to wake up every morning at 4:45 a.m. as I had my classes from 5:45 a.m. Now I have class from 8’o clock so now I am used to waking up at 6 a.m.
I got used to drinking in the morning when I was in 7th std. And now I am getting used to doing yoga every morning.
Wonderful examples, Anushma! I can see that you really understood the lesson and the differences between these expressions.
Actually, I’ve been living in Germany for 12 years now! and I sometimes can’t still believe that I got used to not only speaking German but watching films in German, too! That’s one of my most surprising successes because Germany was the least expected country to live in for me 🙂 and learning German has been a really great challenge for me 🙂 but now I do like using German in every day situations and I’ve been reading books in this language, which was unimaginable a few years ago! and now, I need to use German and English simultaneosly, but… Read more »
Hello Annemarie! Thank you for this very useful lesson.
I used to suffer with all that phrases, but now it became clear.
Normally I am used to go to gym 3 times per week.
I’ll get used to wake up more early in order to have more time for my English lessons.
Hello dear Yulia,
I’m so glad this was helpful! And great example with “used to.” 🙂
Don’t forget, be used to and get used to are followed by gerunds (-ing word) or a noun. How might you change the last two sentences?
Thank you for the amazing lesson! Here my examples:
1. I used to run in the morning when I was younger.
2. I am used to drinking a cup of coffee every day in the morning.
3. I need to get used to my new workplace.
Excellent, Anna!! Great example sentences. It seems that you’ve understand the difference in meaning perfectly.
And I’m intrigued with your last sentence about a new work place!!! Did you find something? 🙂
Yes, I did 🙂
🙂 🙂 🙂 That’s so awesome!!