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Used To Vs. Used For; (Grammar and Usage)

Used To Vs. Used For; (Grammar and Usage)

The English language is spoken all over the world. It’s not only a language that counts for fluency, but correct grammar, subject, and verb agreement are also its key aspects.

Many words have contrasting meanings and distinctive usage. Adverbs when combined with an adverb help us understand the meaning better.

The word “Used” is a part of various sentences that we make use of in our daily lives. It’s accompanied by “for” and “to”.

Today, I’ll be setting apart both of those words; “Used to” and “Used for”. We’ll look forward to the variations as well as the similarities between their grammar and usage in the English language.

“Used to” refers to being a world where the same choices are made over and over again. On the other hand, “used for” is a series of uses for the same commodity.

For example, I used to run (when used in front of a verb).

In the case of “used for“: These joggers are used for running. This is a mouthwash that is used for treating bad breath. or This is used for people who do not have test scores (probably as a remedy).

These were some of the superficial differences, but we’ll be having a deeper look into it. You’ll be able to get to the most accurate and proficient one between the two by the end of this article.

So, let’s get to it right away.

Used To And Used For- What’s The Difference?

They can sometimes be used interchangeably. 

“This screwdriver is used to tighten a nail” and “A screwdriver is used for tightening the nails or losing them”.

“Used to” can, however, mean accustomed to.

Here’s an illustration: 

“He was used to hearing his cat making noises on his door in the morning, so he realized something was wrong when he didn’t hear the scratching.”

Another example;

“I used to wash my hair in the morning, but now I wash it in the evening,”

  • I used to be a powerful, youthful man.
  • What kind of tool is used to open a door lock?

These examples are the easiest way to determine the difference between these two phrases.

When Are We Supposed To Use “Used To”?

When we talk about a scenario that no longer exists, we use the used to + infinitive. It indicates that there was a previously repeated activity or state that has now changed.

When she was younger, she used to be a long-distance runner. 

I used to have trouble sleeping, but I started practicing yoga and found it to be quite beneficial. Meaning; become accustomed to and acclimate to.

‘To be used to’ means ‘to be acquainted with’ or ‘to be accustomed to.’ She’s become accustomed to the city and no longer gets lost.

His legs hurt after the hike because he wasn’t used to walking so much. I’m a teacher, so I’m used to speaking in front of large groups.

We often use the phrase “becoming used to” to refer to the process of becoming acquainted with something. This new job is challenging for me, but I’m confident that I’ll adjust quickly.

Here are some uses of “used to” and “used for”:

Used + Infinite (to)Used for + Gerund (ing)
A wallet is used to keep moneyA wallet is used for keeping money.
A notepad is used to write important stuffA notepad is used for writing important stuff.
A bucket is used to collect water.A bucket is used for collecting water.
A box is used to store thingsA box is used for storing things.
Used to Vs. Used for

What Are Different Uses Of The Phrase; “Used To”?

Used to” has two distinct meanings, each having sub-meanings. In most dialects, they are pronounced differently.” Yoosta is one of the first words that come to mind.

It’s spelled out as a single word. If the next word starts with a vowel, say “you too.” (Used to)

As an adjective, 

Spinach is something I’m used to eating.

As a negative V-thing

The word “not” is used to express negation. I’m not used to eating sweet corn. It means, “I had a habit of doing things in the past.”

Have a look at this sentence; I used to eat sweet corn regularly. On the other hand, there is a negative verb that is accompanied by “never”.

I’ve never been used to eating sweet corn. It may be a disagreement in different dialects, such as British English.

A image showing "learn english" written at yellow background
To be proficient and fluent, we must know the accurate use of grammar.

How Can You Illustrate The Phrase ” Used for”?

“A book is used for reading.” “For V-ing” is an alternative with the same meaning. A “blush-on is used for giving a fresh look to your cheeks.” Thus, it’s pronounced as “yoozed for”.

Such as;

The pharmaceutical industry is used for the production of drugs.

In many, if not all, English dialects, the two instances of “used to,” each with its unique meaning, will be pronounced differently. There are many examples of these phrases. Some of them are discussed below.

In his childhood, Tasin used to swim (a lot) in the lake.
Esha's foolishness is something I'm used to.

Aisha used to own a polaroid in her early 20s. She used to go to the graveyard every week to offer prayer for the deceased.

  • A pen is used for writing.
  • A portable straightener is used for traveling.

I think now you’re quite familiar with the contrast and grammatical use of these phrases, right?

What Is The Distinction Between The Words “Used To” And “Was Used To?”

It’s very simple. Used to be something you do regularly but now you’re not that regular, while “was used to” is completely about the past.

I was used to going straight to the barn to work with my horse. It had become second nature to me. Every day, I’m used to lugging water to the pasture. It’s a habit of mine.

I used to go to the karate training regularly.

I became used to exercising many times per week.

Another interpretation of these remarks is that the presidency was used to bolster the narcissist’s want to be a dictator’s bloated yet frail ego. This was the reason for the office’s existence.

The exemplary sentences have great distinctions in terms of meanings for both of these phrases.

An image showing various alphabets of English
Scattered alphabets of English language

Used To Or Used For; What Do We Say?

“Used to” describes someone’s liking. That’s what I thought when I first read the question. So, depending on the context, this term or phrase can have a variety of meanings.

So, used to can refer to something you did in the past, such as I used to play golf or eat pancakes for breakfast every morning, or I used to go trekking with my family in the forest every summer.

I used to be able to do something. That refers to anything that happened in the past but is no longer true. However, it’s customary to discuss the purpose of anything.

This phone, for example, is used to make phone calls and this camera is used to record video. As a result, we use the preposition used before a verb. It means this device is employed to do that. 

That’s how you talk about what something’s purpose is. Then it’s similar to what it’s used for. It’s also about purpose, but we’re using a noun instead of a verb to accompany the sentence

So, depending on whether the sentence is used to or used to, they are spelled the same, read differently, and have different grammatical roles.

Although “used to” and “used for” serve the same function, we must alter our grammar somewhat following that sentence.

Want to know more about the contrast between the two? This video tells us about the distinction between the two.

Check out this video to differentiate between “used to” and “used for”

In Terms Of MS Word, Which One Is Correct- “Used To” or “Used for”?

According to my experience, MS word’s grammar is not an accurate source for proofreading, it’s quite unacceptable and misleading. I’m not sure why “used to open” and similar phrases would be incorrect. 

It appears to be merely stylistically distinct from “used for opening.”

While both are correct, it’s preferable to use “used for” due to the ambiguity of the term “used to” (both “accustomed” and “was doing it in the past but isn’t any more” on top of the core “used for” usage), or you may unintentionally construct a garden path sentence.

You appear to believe that used to solely refers to habitual acts, whereas used for only refers to instrumental actions. This is just partially correct.

Used To- What’s The Purpose Of Using This Phrase?

Used to can be used with both senses, whereas used for is restricted to instruments or tools.

Take a look at some of your examples:

  • This button is used to turn on the computer.
  • This button is used for starting the computer.

Both are acceptable and signify the same thing.

Contrary to that, some experts say that; “This Button is used to start a computer” is grammatically correct, but the implication is weird because it implies that the button is used to open the dialogue box.

Buttons don’t usually have habits, but aside from that, there’s nothing wrong with them.

It’s pronounced with a voiced sibilant [yuzd] when used to is followed by the infinitive form of the verb and signifies “used as a tool”:

"Used to shatter the glass on the fire alarm"

It’s pronounced with a voiceless sibilant [yust] when used to is followed by the present participle form of the verb and signifies “is accustomed to doing something”:

He is used to going out since his childhood.
An image showing several tenses written on a green board.
English class. Grammatical categories Verb Tenses and Aspects

The Final Say

To conclude, I’d say that “used to” and “used for” are different verbs accompanied by the infinitive forms of adverbs. When we talk about things that happened in the past but are no longer true, we say used to.

It can refer to a state or circumstance as well as repeated actions: He used to be a member of the local football club, but he’s too old anymore.

“I’m used to getting up early for work,”  or to suggest that something happened frequently in the past, as in “we used to go out more.” 

In other words, we can say “it wasn’t always like that,” referring to something that used to happen but no longer does. “My family used to live in Canada for many years.” This expression refers to something you’re comfortable or have been doing lately.

In addition to that, “used for” is a phrase that describes the purpose of something. It’s a fact, that is stated with these terms. For example, “A phone is used for calling”, or “Hands are used for touching an object”

These are some of the obvious statements that we make by using these phrases.

I hope you’re somehow able to distinguish between the two, aren’t you? In case you’re having any ambiguity, give this article a thorough reading, once again!

Want to find out the difference between Wellcome and Welcome? Take a look at this article.

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