Is It ‘Use To’ or ‘Used To’? Meaning, Synonyms, Examples

In this article, we will learn use to or used to, which one to use and when along with basic meaning, synonyms, examples.

What are ‘Use to’ or ‘Used to’ Exactly? Meaning

Use to’ or ‘Used to’ Meaning

There are elements in The English language which no doubt help us express our feelings better. But at the same time, they form a kind of confusion as well. One of these elements is definitely “use to” and “used to”. Although they might look alike but they mean something different and at the same time, the usage differs as well.

If you have always been confused about the usage of these two then you have landed on the right page. Here, we will tell you all about the usage of Use and Used To clearly.

So, let’s get started.

First of all, we need to understand the difference between these two and see when they can be applied in our writing or speech.

What are ‘Use to’ or ‘Used to’ Exactly?

Please keep in mind that both these are idiomatic English phrases. Just like any other idiom, the usage may depend on their purpose in a sentence. But usually they are used to establish an action that no longer occurs or if the speaker is referring to something that he/she was accustomed with. Now, let’s look at the applications as well.

”Use” Is Followed by an Infinitive:

As mentioned, Used to is often applied as an idiomatic phrase but apart from that, we must note that both of them can be perfectly used before to just like the use of the infinitive of a second verb. Did I just lose you there? Well, let’s look at some examples and things will be much clearer.

  • What do you use to do back there in the city?
  • Mr. Johnson used to drive all us to school every day.

The kind of meaning you wish to imply will decide whether the present or past tense will be used.

“Use To” vs. “Used To” as a Synonym for “Accustomed To”

If you wish to say that someone or something was accustomed to or habituated to something then you must write “used to” and never “use to”.

  • Driving was quite scary to me previously but now I am use to it.
  • Driving was quite scary to me previously but now I am used to it.

Above are two classic examples demonstrating how people often get confused about using this expression and incorrectly write use to. This is perhaps because of our ear since we perceive the language by sound when we write. Most of times while saying “used to” aloud, the‘d’ in “used” blends in and becomes a single consonant sound.

“Get Used to It”—How To Use It Correctly

This syntax has the verb “to be + used to”. This implies that the speaker was accustomed to something. Another almost similar construction is “get + used to”. This means “become accustomed to.” So if you use “get + used to”, it implies that the process of being habituated is still ongoing. But you cannot write “use to” in this case.

  • Driving a car was scary for me previously but I will get use to it.
  • Driving a car was scary for me previously but I will get used to it

In such a scenario, always avoid expressions like “I am use to it” or “Get use to it”.

“Used To” Shows a Former Fact, Habit, or Action

“Used to” can also be written to indicate that something took place in the past but it does not happen any longer. This form is currently only written in the past tense. Let’s look at some examples.

  • The Cake Shop used to be at the Corner of 5th Street.
  • Kevin used to go to jogging every morning, but now he has become too busy to do so.
  • My father used to take his old bike to office every day.

You can only write “use to” in place of “used to” is if you are pairing it with “did” or “didn’t”. This is because these two verbs will automatically have sense of reflecting the past tense.

  • Did your father use to take his old bike to office every day?
  • My father didn’t use to take his bike on Sundays, because my uncle needed it.

See, when you are using it in the negative sense, it will always feel okay.

But these not all! The list is far from over. Below, I am listing a few other uses of these idiomatic expressions.

Used To as an Adjective

Although we have explained how you need to differentiate between “used to and use” when it comes to describing the feeling of being accustomed to something, but another aspect is using it as an adjective. Here are a few examples demonstrating the use when used along with a helping verb “to be”.

  • She’s use to sadness and despair. (Incorrect)
  • She’s used to sadness and despair. (Correct)
  • John wasn’t use to sleeping on the floor during winter. (Incorrect)
  • John wasn’t used to sleeping on the floor during winter. (Correct)

The students are use to have recess everyday at 12 P.M. (Incorrect)

The students are used to have recess everyday at 12 P.M. (Correct)

So by these examples, you can understand that when used an adjective, you always write “used to”, never “use to”. Plus, you can see that it is followed by a noun in these examples. “Sleeping” is a gerund which is a intransitive verb functioning as a noun.

Remember, you can always be “used to” to a condition or situation, but you can never be “use to” it. But, there are other applications of “use to” as well in a sentence.

Used To as a Verb

Another very important aspect to keep in mind is that both of these expressions are commonly used as modal verbs. As you know, modal verbs are a type of helping verb written to establish a sentence’s mood. In this case, they are used with an infinitive (to + verb) to explain the discontinuation of an action. Some very common examples are:

  • She used to jog every morning.
  • Harry used to dream of becoming an astronaut.
  • The school used to have a music teacher.

Here, “used to” is used as past-tense verbs. When you remove it, they will go back to the present tense. But in that case, there will be a case of subject-verb disagreement.

Use To as a Verb

We have a discussed this above as well. The only time, writing “Use to” can be valid is when you are using the words “did or didn’t”. By this, you can clarify or indicate past behavior. Let’s look at some examples where “use to” is used correctly:

  • Did you use to go the park back in France?
  • Didn’t you play Sitar with my uncle?
  • John didn’t use to enjoy Jazz but now he is a huge fan.

Since “did and didn’t” already indicate past tense form, hence there is no need to add the ‘d’ to “use”. Apart from a few bizarre American expressions, you will never see any exception to this rule.

Phonetic Confusion

This confusion can be quite persistent when you are using these phrases. In writing, you can clearly see the letter ‘d’ and understand whether it is “use to” or “used to”. But when we are speaking, both of them sound almost identical. This is what we call as phonetic confusion. Most of the times, they will sound the same to a listener.

  • Try and read these sentences aloud:
  • I used to go camping with my brother.
  • I use to go camping with my brother.

Can you make out the difference by ear? Don’t worry if you can’t because you’re not the only one.

The S Sound in Use

Lastly, understand that the word ‘use’ has different sounds coming out on different context and purpose. If you are using it as a noun, it will sound one way; in case of a verb form, it sounds differently. Let’s look at some examples to how it works:

The verb ‘use’ will produce a ‘z’ sound when it means “to put into action.”

  • Example: Use this hammer to break the lock.

It will produce an ‘s’ in the noun form, which implies “the intended purpose of an item.”

  • Example: Put the money to good use.

When it comes to verb, it will produce an ‘s’ sound and it will be “to no longer complete an action or participate in an activity.”

  • Example: John used to compose the opening riff of most of the songs.

If you wish to describe an activity you no longer do, you can use the third pronunciation. In fact, both of these idioms are pronounce with an ‘s’ sound. Even when saying the past tense, you can hear the ‘z’ sound, but it can change to an ‘s’ sound in this context.


Both “use to” and “used to” are used quite often every day. Understanding them and differentiating the concept between these two can be very helpful. I hope the above discussion was helpful for you to clear your confusion.

So, if you have any further queries about this topic then feel free to mention them in the comments section.

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