How to use Be used to & Get used to

Learn about ‘”be used to” and “get used to” in English grammar. Clear and simple explanation of meaning and use, with examples.

Keith Taylor

How to form sentences with “be used to” and “get used to”

  • be used to + noun/gerund
  • get used to + noun/gerund

How to use “be used to” and “get used to”

  1. We use be used to to express that a situation is not new or strange, or is no longer new or strange.
    • I’ve lived here for ten years now so I’m used to driving in the city.
    • He’s not used to working at night so he sometimes falls asleep.
    • Are you used to the climate?
    • I wasn’t used to working such long hours when I started my new job.
  2. We use get used to to express that an action/situation becomes less strange or new, or becomes more comfortable.
    • It took them a long time to get used to their new boss.
    • Have you got used to driving on the left yet?
    • She is getting used to waking up early for her new job.

Other rules and use of “be used to” and “get used to”

  1. We can modify be used to with adverbs.
    • I’m very used to his strange behaviour now.
    • She should be pretty used to living without electricity or running water by now.

Keith Taylor

Keith is the co-founder of Eslbase and School of TEFL. He's been a teacher and teacher trainer for over 20 years, in Indonesia, Australia, Morocco, Spain, Italy, Poland, France and now in the UK.

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  • Marco

    I would like to know is this sentence grammatically correct:

    “I’m sure he will give all of us the best as he is already used to for several years”.

    Is it true that be used to doesn’t work with present perfect / continuous?

    Thanks, Marco

    • Keith profile photo
      Keith Taylor

      Hi Marco

      “I’m sure he will give all of us the best as he is already used to for several years”.

      This doesn’t quite work. You would need to say something like:

      “I’m sure he will give all of us the best as he has already done for several years”.

      “be used to” and “get used to” do work with present perfect and present continuous. However, “used to” (explained here) doesn’t work with present perfect and present continuous.

      I hope this helps.


    Hello hi!
    Please may I get help in this sentence?
    “He used 10 years to work ________ he finally enjoyed his fund when he tired.
    A. For. B. Since. C. But. D. That. E. So [ ]

  • Arsal jamal

    I’m really confused about it.
    If I want to use it with present perfect progressive can i use it?
    If I say.
    I was getting use to coming late .
    What idea will it be given by this one?

  • Pablo Díaz

    why don´t you give example with GET USED TO in negative and interrogative form? I was looking for these kind of examples and I didn´t find them.

    • Keith profile photo
      Keith Taylor

      Hi Pablo

      One of the examples does use the interrogative form:
      – Have you got used to driving on the left yet?

      Here’s a negative example:
      – She isn’t getting used to waking up early for her new job.

      Hope that helps.

  • nafissa nina

    thx for this explanation and examples but I just have a question. Can we use be/get used to with state verbs !? thx in advance :)

    • Keith profile photo
      Keith Taylor

      Hi – it’s not very common to use them with state verbs, but it is possible. Here are a couple of examples I can think of:

      – I need to get used to being in Spain.
      – I have to get used to loving someone.

  • Alfonso

    You can teach be used to and get used to by talking about marriage and how it changes one’s life. Show pictures representing the “habits” you have or had. For example:

    I am used to getting up late, I’m not used to washing someone else’s clothes. etc.

    Then, show what “new” situations they will need to adapt to. For example:

    When you get married, you’ll need to get used to your husband’s habits. etc.

  • Anonymous

    For conversation based adults: When teaching be used to I usually introduce it in the lesson after used to (past). In the used to lesson we look at a familiar movie that has a Cinderella transformation. A current example that is internationally popular is Slumdog Millionaire. We talk about what the lead characters used to do (live in the slums) and what we imagine they do now (live in a mansion).

    Jamal used to live in the slums, but now he lives in a big house.
    Jamal used to have to steal food, but now he has plenty of money.

    In the next class we talk about what the characters had to get used to and what they are probably used to now.

    Jamal had to get used to the paparazzi. Now he is used to the media attention.

    Adults are usually pretty eager to talk about a film that they’ve just seen or that is popular, and therefore the conversation isn’t forced. In other words, it requires minimal creativity from the students. Depending on the grammar level, you can mix in verb forms.

  • Manish

    When I teach be used to and get used to I prefer to share practical examples because it helps the trainees to understand the concept better. For example…

    Manish is from a village so obviously he is not accustomed to living in noisy and crowded areas.

    If he moves to a city he will get frustrated. Why?

    Because he is not used to living in a city.

    Now you can add more to that and continue further with the same example…

    If Manish starts living in the city he will get used to living there.

  • Jim

    I teach 1st-year Japanese university kids. Generally, they’ve had a lot of prior grammar instruction but little practice in meaningful use. My task is to activate, or to establish links between patterns they know and how to create meaning.

    For get used to, I introduce it by talking about my experiences of Japan. While doing so, I draw a timeline on the board. On the left-hand side of the timeline, I write:

    THEN ——————– NOW

    As students know the past simple, example sentences like, ‘When I first saw natto, I thought that it looked funny’. (I accompany this with the appropriate ‘yucky’ gesture, which usually gets a laugh.) I write this sentence under THEN. I tell my students that ‘I had natto three times last week. I like natto.’ under ‘NOW’. This forms the basis for the target sentence.

    I didn’t like natto at first. Now, I’m used to eating it.

    I repeat this example with others. ‘Hardly ever ate rice —– eat it every day’ / ‘use chopsticks rarely —- use chopsticks with every meal’. And so on.

    As students are in their 1st year, they are often not used to university life in all respects. Some are living alone for the first time. I ask them to think about life as a high school student and life now as a university student. Students are asked to copy the timeline from the board and to add their own examples. They produce the target sentence a few times using their examples.

    Then, students get in pairs to ask and answer the following question: “How has your life changed since coming to university?” They are encouraged to develop their dialogues into conversations.

  • Megan

    I teach be used to and get used to together, because get used to is much easier to explain straight after setting a context for be used to.

    I use the context of being used to driving on a different side of the road. So if you’re British and are teaching in a country where they drive on the right, then you’re in luck. Likewise, if you’re American and are teaching where they drive on the left – you get the idea. (If not, just use “Jimmy” as your example, rather than yourself).

    First, ask your students which side of the road they drive on in their country, and in the UK. Then ask them what it was like for you (or Jimmy) when you first arrived in (let’s say) Spain. You want to elicit “strange” or “not normal”.

    Now tell them that you’ve been living in Spain for a year, and ask them if it is still strange. Here of course you want to elicit that now it’s normal for you.

    Okay, now that you’ve established that, draw a timeline on the board, with “PAST” on the left, and “NOW” on the right. Draw a cross to show when you arrived in Spain, and reiterate that it wasn’t normal for you to drive on the right. You can even write “not normal” on the timeline. Reiterate also that now it’s no longer strange (write normal on the timeline under NOW).

    Then present the target language: “Now, it’s normal for me to drive on the right. I’m used to driving on the right.” When they’re happy with this, repeat with the past: “One year ago, it wasn’t normal for me to drive on the right, I wasn’t used to driving on the right.”

    Give some other example at this stage, get them to come up with some of their own, until they’re quite comfortable with using be used to in different tenses and situations. Then you can introduce get used to. Refer to your timeline, and elicit or present the idea of a change between a year ago and now. Elicit or present this change as get used to – “During this time I got used to driving on the right“.

    And that’s pretty much it for the presentation. I find it takes a lot of practice for students to be totally comfortable with it.

    • Dilafruz

      Thank you!!! I utilized your examples to explain the difference between get used to and be used to. I would like to contact you and take some experience to teach if you want.

  • Delia

    Have you ever lived or worked abroad? If you have, you probably went through culture shock. I have spent a year teaching in Africa and two years teaching in Japan. I can tell you, it took me a long time to get used to some of the local customs.

    (I then give some examples)
    It was difficult getting used to having no electricity or running water when I was living in Africa.
    In Japan, I had to get used to bowing all the time, every time I met another teacher or anyone to whom I had to show respect.
    I had to get used to travelling in terribly crowded trains and being pushed on the train by a professional pusher with white gloves.
    I had to get used to putting my hand in front of my mouth every time I smiled, as it is rude for women to show their teeth.
    I had to get used to eating with chopsticks!

    Students share their culture shock experiences. This can be widened to any new life experience, living alone after living with one’s parents, moving from a village to a town, getting married, having a child. These can also be explored.

    • judy

      Can I use the word “used to…” where the behaviour of someone is already known… or you already knew his behaviour since you have started your relationships…

      Ex. I’m used to his behaviour

      Is it right? or there’s other grammar I can use?

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