Difference between ‘used to’, ‘get + used to’, and ‘be + used to’

July 30, 2009

drinking_coffee

These three phrases could be quite confusing as they all contain ‘used to’ but have different meanings and usage.

‘Used to’ conveys ‘past habit’ but does not mention when this habit happened or when it stopped.  Here, a bare infinitive (verb without the ‘to’ with no change in tense and no need for agreement with the noun) follows ‘used to’. 

For example-

            I used to drink coffee every morning. (This means that I had a habit of drinking coffee in the morning in the past but do not do this anymore.)

In ‘get + used to’ and ‘be + used to’, ‘used’ means accustomed.  The get form and be form would change to the appropriate tense and change to agree with the noun. 

Similar to ‘used to’, ‘be + used to’ conveys being accustomed to doing something in the past with the use of the past tense of be (i.e. was, were).  Usually, it conveys that this does not happen anymore.

            I was used to drinking coffee every morning when I worked at an office.

The ‘get + used to’ form shows the change of habit in the past with using the past form of get.  Usually, it conveys that this is still happening.

            I got used to drinking coffee every morning when I worked at an office.

A future but fairly certain conditional action could be conveyed by using ‘get + used to’ and a ‘will’ in front of it.  The present form of get is used. 

            I will get used to drinking coffee if I move to Europe as they have the best coffees in the world. 

On the other hand, when using the present tense of be (i.e. is, am, are), ‘be + used to’ conveys being accustomed to doing something in the past which one still does now.

            I am used to drinking coffee every morning.

            She is used to drinking coffee every morning.

            They are used to drinking coffee every morning. 

Notice that a gerund (verb which acts as a noun and ends in –ing) follows ‘get + used to’ and ‘be + used to’. 

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