is used to/ used to

  1. He is used to play a joke on others.
  2. He used to play a joke on others.
    Which sentence is correct?

#2 is correct and means that it was his habit to play one particular joke on others (if you mean jokes in general, it would be “used to play jokes”).

#1 is incorrect in the sense you almost certainly mean it. (It is theoretically possible in the sense that someone somehow uses him in the process of playing a joke.)

Is not #2 past tense?
I want a sentence in present tense.
I want this meaning - “He usually plays jokes on others.”

Yes, #2 is past tense. I can’t think of any way to get the exact meaning of “He usually plays jokes on others” using the words “used to”, if that’s what you’re trying to achieve.

In the present tense it is grammatical to say “He is used to playing jokes on others”, but this “used to” does not have quite the feeling that I think you want. This “used to” is used to describe something that you are familiar with doing because you have done it so many times.


  1. A pencil is used to write and sketch.
  2. He is used to write and sketch.
  3. He is used to writing and sketching.
    Which are correct, please?

#1 and #3 are correct.

#2 is wrong (in the sense that you almost certainly mean it), for the same reason that the original sentence #1 is wrong. #2 is theoretically possible if someone somehow “uses” him to produce writings and sketches.

There are two quite different uses of “used to”:

The expression “used to”, in the sense of “accustomed to” or “familiar with”, must be followed by a noun or noun phrase:

“He is used to hard work” (“hard work” is a noun phrase)
“He is used to writing and sketching” (“writing” and “sketching” are nouns)

If “used to” is followed by a verb, then it is always a passive form of the verb “use”, not the expression “used to”:

“A match can be used to light a fire.” (“light” is a verb)
“A pencil is used to write and sketch.” (“write” and “sketch” are verbs)

The expression “used to” (= “accustomed to”) is pronounced with a soft “s”. In the passive verb form the “s” is pronounced like “z”.

In my view your sentences should be:

  1. A pencil is used for writing and sketching.
  2. He is used to writing and sketching.
  3. He is used to writing and sketching.(Correct)

Please note that in (1) the verb ‘use’ is used with the normal meaning, while in (2) and (3) it is used as a phrase (be used to) with a different meaning.
After ‘be used to’ a gerundial (‘ing’) construction appears.

‘IS USED TO’ is similar to ‘IS ACCUSTOMED TO’.

  1. “Yet” is used to say that something has not happened.
  2. In the past a great number of women used to die in childbirth.
    Are these two sentences OK?

Both “A pencil is used for writing and sketching” and “A pencil is used to write and sketch” are possible.

Of course, here I was talking about “be used to”. There is yet another “used to” that describes something done regularly in the past, as in “He used to work here”.