Used to vs Be Used to vs Get Used to: How to Use them Correctly

A friend of mine while on a call with one of his clients, on a bid to reassure the client that the same task the client is requesting is what he has been doing for others said,

‘It’s what I used to do for others.’

After seconds of what seemed like my patience was running out, he ended the call then I asked,

‘Did you just say used to?’

‘Yes,’ he replied with no remorse. ‘What else was I supposed to say?’

I gave my opinion and an argument ensued. I gave up when he insisted on being right.

Worst is some of us end up passing such grammar on to our children who grow up believing it is the right thing to say. Let’s make the correction now.

So what’s the difference? Used to vs Be Used to vs Get Used to! What’re their differences and how do you use them correctly? The problem is mostly on ‘used to’, but we’ll take all three for further clarity.

When to Use ‘Be Used To’

We use ‘be used to something/ be used to doing something’ when we say that we are accustomed to something or something is normal for us, not strange or new.

Examples:

  • Mike is used to writing with his left hand.
  • I’m not used to watching soap operas.

When to Use ‘Get Used to’

We use ‘get used to something/ get used to doing something’ to say that something is in the process of becoming normal or common.

Examples:

  • Nurses get used to seeing blood.
  • I had to get used to seeing him every day.

When to Use ‘Used to do’

Now, this is where we mostly get it wrong. Some people tend to forget that there is ‘do’ after the ‘used to’ probably because it doesn’t appear in every sentence, but it is still there. You must keep the ‘do’ in mind.

We use the structure ‘used to/used to do something’ when we talk about past habits; something we did regularly in the past, but do not do it now.

Examples:

  • He used to live in Abuja.
  • used to work as a nurse.

Going back to what my friend said, since it is a task he has not stopped doing, the correct thing to say is:

‘It’s what I am used to doing for others.’

This is to show he is accustomed to it.

Not:

‘It’s what I used to do for others.’

What this rather means is – he does not perform the task anymore. And if I were his client, my next question would be, ‘Does it mean you don’t do it anymore?’

Or he could simply say:

‘It’s what I do for others.’

‘Use’ mustn’t be in the sentence.

I hope this is not too complex. I tried my best to break it down because it is extremely important we understand this for our essays, public speaking engagements, interviews, and everyday life.

Also Read: I am finally home but still can’t be productive

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