“I used to play tennis”, “I’m used to playing tennis” or “I’m getting used to playing tennis”? These three phrases look almost the same, but there are some big differences in their meanings. Read on to find out how to use each of them correctly.
We say “used to” to talk about habits or states in the past.
Here are some examples:
- I used to get up very early for work.
- When she was a child, she used to play tennis.
- The shop used to be busy at the weekends!
- They used to live in Ireland.
“Used to” is always followed by the base form of the verb (no “ed”, no “ing”). We can also use this form in negative sentences (“didn’t use to”) and questions (“Did you use to …?”). These are the same for all subjects.
- I didn’t use to travel much.
- We didn’t use to live in a big house.
- Did you use to drive to work?
- Did she use to call you every day?
Be used to
We use “be used to” when we want to say something is normal for us.
Here are some examples:
- I’m used to multi-tasking.
- We’re used to solving difficult problems.
- He’s used to his job.
- They’re used to public speaking.
“Be used to” is mostly used in the present or past simple and is followed by either a gerund (the -ing form of the verb) or a noun. Here, the verb “be” must be conjugated depending on who the subject is (e.g. I, you, they). You can also make negative sentences and questions as you would normally with the verb “be”:
- I’m not used to commuting so far.
- She’s not used to working with this programme.
- Are you used to getting up so early?
- Is he used to working from home now?
Get used to
“Get used to” describes the processes of something becoming normal for us. For instance, when I start a new job, it feels very differently, but slowly, over time, all the routines and processes become normal for me; I get used to them. Here are some more examples:
- I quickly got used to the big city when we moved.
- We still haven’t got used to being at home so much.
- He will get used to his new school.
- They haven’t got used to the new teacher yet.
- Have you got used to speaking English at work?
As with “be used to”, we must use a gerund or noun after “get used to”. The verb “get” changes depending on the subject and tense. As shown above, it can be used in negative sentences and questions as well. It can be used with a range of tenses.
Can you think of any more examples using these phrases? Or are there other similiar phrases that you mix up? Feel free to share them in the comments below or have a look at these tips on when to use “regarding”, “with regard to” and “according to”.