One of the hardest language points for students to master is to distinguish between the verb ‘used’ which is plus an infinitive and the adjective ‘to be used to’ which is plus a gerund.

To help your students remember, try this drill

The used + infinitive and to be used to + gerund drill

To be successful, your students should already know ‘used + infinitive.’ The drill is to help them learn ‘to be used to’ + gerund.


Ask your student some questions based on these ideas. Alternate between the tense, ‘used to’ and adjective, ‘to be used to’ using the same verb so your student can practice the different structures. For example:

Tutor: Are you used to shopping on the Internet?

Student: Yes, I am used to shopping on the Internet.

Tutor: Did you use to shop on the internet when you were a child?

Student: No, I didn’t use to shop on the internet when I was a child.

Here are some questions to ask. Change the form of the verb depending on which ‘used’ question you’re asking.

  • Shop on the Internet
  • Vote in elections
  • Earn money
  • Drive in the city
  • Be a + profession
  • Take the bus to work
  • Recycle
  • Wake up early
  • Cook for themselves
  • Do exercise

Homework: Used + inf and to be used to + gerund activity

Help your students understand the difference between ‘used + infinitive’ and ‘to be used to + gerund’ with this exercise. Ask your students to fill the gaps with the correct ‘used to.’ They can then check their answers themselves with the answers on the second page.

Copy of the used to + inf and to be used to + gerund activity

Tom is a vet. He (1. wake up)____ and driving to work at dawn. When Tom was younger, he (2. live)____ in the city.

He (3. not own)____ a car and instead (4. cycle)____ everywhere. Back then Tom (5. do)____ lots of exercise and even competed in a few triathlons!

However, city life with its crowds, traffic and pollution was also stressful. Now Tom lives in the country and he (6. have)____ a slower pace of life. He is (7. hear)____ the sounds of farm animals and birdsong, although he is still (8. not be)____ alone yet.

Tom is getting (9. read)____ again. When he was younger, (10. read)____ a lot. Now he is even getting into the books he (11. not like)____ when he was a teenager. He usually reads two books a week and he is even thinking about writing one himself.

When Tom was a student, he never imagined that he would have a life like this. But he (12. used + inf/ to be used)____ the peace and quiet now and he is very content. used to waking up, 2. used to live, 3. didn’t used to own, 4. used to cycle, 5.  was used to doing or used to do, 6. used to having, 7. is used to hearing 8. not used to being, 9.  used to reading. 10. used to read, 11. didn’t used to like, 12. is used to.

Final thoughts

We hope that exercises prove useful for your classes and students. If you’d like any other grammar exercise, please leave your suggestions in the comments below.