"Used to" with
Infinitive or Gerund


We can create sentences with used to in constructions with the infinitive or the gerund, and we would get very different meaning! Look at the examples below.

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1. Dad is used to making cookies, so they always come out perfect! He even knows how to make three different kinds.

Dad is used to making cookies

2. Dad used to make cookies for us when we were little, but he hasn't made them in years. I wish he would make some now!


So what do we have here?

In the first example, we use the following construction:

subject + to be + used to + gerund

This means that Dad is accustomed to making cookies: he does it a lot and feels comfortable doing it. It feels normal to him.

In the second example, we use this construction:

subject + used to + infinitive

This means that Dad made cookies regularly in the past, but he doesn't do this anymore.

Now let's dive into each of these constructions.

"Be used to doing"

This construction means that the person feels normal doing a certain activity. The activity is familiar to them.

In this construction, notice that we use the gerund, ending in -ing.

We can use this construction in the simple present, the simple past, or the simple future. We just need to change the form of the verb "be".

Example:
  • Brenda is very busy, but she doesn't mind. She is used to working very hard.
Brenda is very busy

More examples:
  • I don't mind helping you with your homework. I am used to solving math problems, so it's easy for me.

  • The kids are used to having a nap after lunch, so if they don't sleep for a bit, they're very tired in the afternoon.

  • Inga is used to getting up very early. She likes starting work at 8am.
Look at the table below for the constructions in positive, negative, and question sentences.

"to be used to doing"

Positive Negative Question
subject + to be + used to + gerund subject + to be + not + used to + gerund to be + subject + used to + gerund


Examples with negatives and questions:

  • They are not used to eating so much at lunch time. Maybe we should serve them less food.

  • I am not used to listening to music while I work. I find it distracting when they turn on the radio at the office!

  • Are you used to sleeping in late? I noticed that you got up at 11am this morning!

  • Is this employee used to getting lots of praise from her supervisor? We want to be sure she feels comfortable.

  • Erin is not used to having so much work! But Brenda tells her that she'll be just fine.

Erin is not used to having so much work!

"Used to do"

This construction means that the person did something regularly in the past, but they don't do it now.

In this construction, notice that we use the infinitive, the base form of the verb.

This is similar to the simple past, but "used to do" means that the person did the action regularly and repeatedly: it was a habit. We only use this construction to talk about the past.

Example:

  • Tommy used to go everywhere with his teddy bear, but now he's too old for that.
Tommy used to go everywhere with his teddy bear

More examples:
  • used to work in an office downtown, but now I work much closer to my apartment.

  • When the children were younger, they used to go to bed at 7pm, but now they can stay up later.

  • I always used to feel afraid when my mother turned off the light! I was scared of monsters in the closet.
Look at the table below for the constructions in positive, negative, and question sentences.

"used to do"

Positive Negative Question
subject + used to + infinitive subject + did + not + used to + infinitive Did + subject + used to + infinitive

Examples with negatives and questions:
  • Craig didn't used to speak German, but now he is fluent! He studied for five years.

  • I didn't used to like vegetables. Now I love having salad with my meals.

  • Kim didn't used to enjoy reading very much, but now she finds it very relaxing.

  • Did you used to watch scary movies when you were younger?

  • Did Melanie used to be a model? She's so beautiful!

  • Your manners are terrible! You always leave the door open! Did you used to live in a barn?
Did you used to live in a barn?

These constructions can seem confusing at first, but with practice, you'll feel comfortable with them. If you want to learn how to use more confusing word pairs, visit that section of our site for lots of explanations and examples.

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