Used to + noun

Monday, October 7, 2019

If you are used to doing something, it is familiar to you because you have often done it before and it seems normal or usual. 

  • I am “used to” taking the train to work. 
  • I quickly got “used to” the mild winters in Arizona after living in Chicago for many years. 
  • Bakers are “used to” waking up early in the morning. 
  • The puppy needs to get “used to” its new home.

In each of these sentences, a noun or gerund (verb that functions as a noun) follows “used to.”  
Why? Because “to” is a preposition, and nouns always follow prepositions. 

If you think you understand this rule, then why is “used to” followed by a verb in these sentences?

  • Martin used to exercise at the gym after work. 
  • I used to ride my bike every day to school. 
  • Nat’s dog used to hide every time it heard thunder. 

The answer: In these sentences, the word "to" is not a preposition. It is part of the infinitive ("to smoke,” "to ride,” “to hide”). 

Be careful not to make this mistake when talking about things that are familiar. 

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