I know be used to (used not as a tense form) means be accustomed to. I wonder if I can use it (but this time as a passive form of use) to express a purpose. For example,

The keyboard is used to type words.

I also know that as an alternative I can say,

The keyboard is used for typing words.

Is the first sentence grammatically correct or should I avoid it for some reason? Is it perfect English or does it sounds off to native ears?

  • 1
    When used to mean accustomed, "used" is an adjective. But in your examples, it is a verb meaning roughly "employed". "Used to type words" is a predicative complement of "be" with "keyboard" as predicand. Note that tt's only the complement of "used", i.e. "to type words" that has a purposive meaning – BillJ Dec 21 '16 at 11:38

Both make sense to me as a native English speaker, although the usage in

"The keyboard is used to type words."

is not equivalent to

"I don't mind the rain, I'm used to it."

for example.

For the usage here to be equivalent, I think we'd have to be anthropomorphising the keyboard and saying something like:

"The keyboard is used to having words typed on it"


"The keyboard is used to being used for typing words" or similar.

When employing "used to" to express familiarity, it's usually (in the UK at least) pronounced slightly differently too - the "used" rhymes with "boost" when being used to express being accustomed to something, but rhymes with "cruised" when being used to express using something as a tool for example.

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  • +1 thank you so much. i wish i could give you two upvotes :) – Yuri Dec 21 '16 at 10:42

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