“I used to” and “I’m used to” appear to be very similar phrases but are actually very different in meaning.

Used to” is a phrase used to refer to things in the past that are no longer true. This can be past states that are no longer true or regular activities that no longer happen.

To be used to” is a phrase that means “to become accustomed to something.”

I used toI’m used to
Refers to past states or activitiesTo be accustomed to or familiar with
Followed by verb or verb phraseFollowed by a pronoun, noun phrase or gerund phrase
Past onlyPast, present, future

I used to

1. “Used to” refers to a past state or situation that is no longer true or a past regular activity that no longer happens.
  • “This ring used to belong to my grandma.”
  • “I used to play tennis every weekend.”
2. “Used to” + [verb/verb phrase]

Here, the base form of the verb is used.

  • “She used to dance.
  • “I used to read a lot of books when I was younger.”
3. This can only be used to refer to the past.

Therefore, it cannot be used to talk about the present or the future.

  • “She used to play in the garden a lot.”
    Not – She will used to play in the garden.”

Spelling: “Used to” or “Use to”?

A long time ago, this was used in the base form but is now used in the past tense form. The only time when it is used in the root form is when it is paired with “did” in the same sentence.

However this is usually the case for American English, and “did used to” is sometimes acceptable for British English.

  • Did you use to play basketball?”
  • “No, I didn’t use to play basketball, I used to play baseball.”

You may have also noticed that the pronunciation is the same in both the present and past tense form. This can sometimes create some confusion with its spelling, but remember, “used to” is usually used in its past tense form.

I’m used to

1. “To be used to” means “to be accustomed to” or “to be familiar with.
  • “I‘m used to living by myself.”
  • “I guess he‘s used to waking up that early in the morning.”
2. “To be used to” + [noun/pronoun or gerund/gerund phrase]
  • “He’s used to the cold weather.”
  • “They‘re not used to working the graveyard shift.”
3. This can be used to talk the past or present.
  • Past: “He was used to working long hours.”
    This means that he was previously accustomed to working long hours but not anymore.
  • Present: “He‘s used to working long hours.”
    This means he is (currently) accustomed to working long hours.
4. We use “to get used to” to talk about the future or the process of becoming accustomed.

To talk about the future, we use a relevant idiomatic phrase, “to get used to,” which means “to become accustomed to” or “to become familiar with.”

This phrase refers to a process instead of a state.

  • “The work is challenging, but I intend to get used to it.”
  • “She just started, so she’ll get used to it.”

See also:
Differences: I used to or I would

Original posts: 20 September 2018