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be used to

  • I am used to lots of noise.
  • I am used to working late.

be used to something
be used to doing

be used to is an expression. It is not a tense. If I say "I am used to Thailand", it is like saying "I am accustomed to Thailand."

Do not confuse be used to with with the special structure used to do. They have different meanings.

Structure of be used to

The structure of be used to is:

subject + main verb
be
+ used to + object

Look at the structure again with positive, negative and question sentences:

  subject main verb
be
not used to object
+ I am   used to horses.
- He is not used to children.
We are n't used to big cities.
? Are you   used to her temper?

Note that if the object involves a verb, we use the -ing form (gerund):

  • I am not used to being lied to.
  • He is used to working late.
  • We aren't used to taking the bus.
  • Are you used to cooking?
Why do we use -ing for a verb after be used to? Because we always use -ing for a verb after a preposition - and the to is a preposition.

Use of be used to

The be used to expression is for talking about something that is familiar to us or easy for us. For example:

  • I am used to driving on the left.

It means that it is not a problem for me to drive on the left of the road. I am Japanese. In Japan, people drive on the left. Now I am living in the USA where people drive on the right. Of course, I drive on the right in the USA, but when I go to Japan it is easy for me to drive on the left because "I am used to it".

Look at these examples.

  • I am used to hard work.
  • I am used to working hard.
  • He is not used to New York.
  • He isn't used to living in New York.
  • Are you used to fast food?
  • Are you used to eating quickly?

Tenses

We can use be used to in any tense. We just conjugate the verb be in the tense that we need. Look at these examples:

  • When we lived in Bangkok, we were used to hot weather.
  • I have been used to snakes for a long time.
  • You will soon be used to living alone.

Mini Quiz

1. The expression be used to has a similar meaning to

be good at
be tired of
be accustomed to
a) be good at b) be tired of c) be accustomed to

2. "People here are used to hot weather." They must live in

a cold country
a hot country
a big country
a) a cold country b) a hot country c) a big country

3. "Harry's used to getting up early." He _______ gets up early.

rarely
never
always
a) rarely b) never c) always

Your score is:

Correct answers: