'Use To' or 'Used To': What's the Difference Between Two?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on January 24, 2023

You might be wondering what the difference is between ‘use to’ and ‘used to’ and how to use them both in a sentence. We’ll cover that in this article in detail, plus teach you how to pronounce the phrases.

The short answer is that:

  • ‘Use to’ refers to something you used to do. For example, you might say, “Did you use to go to school with Samantha Jones?”
  • ‘Used to’ refers to something familiar or routine. For instance, you might say, “I’m used to going to school every day.”

Because of this, you should not use these terms interchangeably, as they mean different things.

Is It ‘Used To’ or ‘Use To’?

So, which one should you use? Well, that depends.

If you’re referring to something you frequently did in the past, use ‘use to.’

For example:

  • I use to go swimming at the lake every day last summer.

When you’re referring to something familiar or routine, use ‘used to.’

For example:

  • We’re used to go to our Dad’s house every weekend now.

We’ll provide more examples of how to use the phrases in a sentence below.

‘Use To’ vs. ‘Used To’ – What’s the Difference?

So, what’s the difference between these two words?

The version without the 'd' refers to something you did frequently in the past.

The other version of the phrase refers to something familiar or routine.

These words sound similar but mean different things. However, that doesn't mean they're homophones.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Use To’ and ‘Used To’

According to Merriam-Webster, ‘use to’ is an idiom that describes something that existed or repeatedly happened in the past but doesn’t exist or happen now.

The same dictionary defines ‘used to’ as familiar with something so that it seems normal.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘Use To’ and ‘Used To’

Wondering how to pronounce these phrases? Here’s a short guide.

  • To pronounce ‘use to’ use the phonetic spelling: yOOs TOO
  • To pronounce ‘used to’ use the phonetic spelling: yOOsd TOO

How to Use ‘Use To’ in a Sentence 

Now that we know what both phrases mean and how to pronounce them let’s look at a few more examples of how to use them in a sentence.

  • We use to jump off the cliff and into the ocean every day after school.
  • We use to go to the movie theater, but we never go anymore.
  • I use to bite my fingernails, but thankfully, I quit that bad habit.
  • I use to think the world was black and white, but there are gray.

How to Use ‘Used To’ in a Sentence

Now, let’s look at some examples of how to use ‘used to’ in a sentence.

  • I’m used to taking the bus to school every day now.
  • I’m used to hand-me-down clothes. I have two older sisters.
  • I’m used to living with my mom. It’s scary to move out on my own.
  • It used to be so much more fun with my sisters here. It’s lonely since they went off to college.

Final Thoughts on ‘Use To’ and ‘Used To’

To recap, we learned that these phrases don’t mean the same thing, despite sounding very similar. Therefore, they should not be used interchangeably.

If you ever get stuck on usage or meaning, you can always come back for a quick refresher. We’ve also got a ton of other content dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases in the English language. Go check it out.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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