I am wondering why "use" is a correct choice in this sentence:

I hope that my working experience and education can be of use to West China Supermarkets.

Instead of "use", Could I use "using" in that sentence? And what is the difference between use and using?

3 Answers 3


No, using would not fit.

This is the noun use (pronounced with an /s/ sound, not a /z/). That has one meaning which is something like the act of using, but here it has another meaning which is approximately usefulness.

In fact, of use is an idiom which means the same as useful.

So if you saw

Use of this equipment is prohibited.

that would be the first meaning, and so Using this equipment would be equally good.

But in phrases such as of use, any use, no use, it always has the second meaning: you could substitute usefulness, but not using.

  • 1
    +1 though I think the big thing is that "to be of use" is simply a set phrase. That reason, more than anything else, is why use is preferred here. We can still try and justify it, but it's justification in hindsight.
    – ЯegDwight
    Jun 24, 2014 at 22:04
  • @ЯegDwight: Since it's also perfectly natural to speak of wanting to create something of use to others, for example (it doesn't have to be something that will be of use to others), I'd be inclined to say it's really just the of use bit that's the underlying "set phrase". Jun 25, 2014 at 0:09
  • But as I said, it's not just of use. That meaning also turns up in no use and any use.
    – Colin Fine
    Jun 25, 2014 at 18:28

You're confusing the verb to use [juːz] with the noun use [jus], since they're both spelled the same.

To be of use [ʌv ˈjus] means to be useful.

She hopes her experience will be useful to the Chinese markets.

  • No, they're not, or not necessarily. They may also be thinking of the other meaning of the noun use, meaning act of using.
    – Colin Fine
    Jun 25, 2014 at 18:29
  • ...which is a noun pronounced [jus] that's all I'm saying. But specifically in the sentence in question, it's undeniably a noun and not a verb.
    – CocoPop
    Jun 25, 2014 at 19:33
  • Yes it is. But there is no reason to suppose that the OP was thinking of the verb. They might have, but need not have.
    – Colin Fine
    Jun 26, 2014 at 22:53
  • His question and explanation gave me every indication that he was. Perhaps I'm wrong - it's a matter of interpretation I suppose. But does it really matter in the long run? Do you reckon I hurt his feelings. Perhaps I should apologize, or at the very least adopt a policy of applying emotional intelligence before imparting linguistic intelligence. Good God - I have a motto! No, a logo! We'll start a telethon! "Nevergiveup" will be the poster boy. With that name we can't go wrong. WE CAN BEAT THIS! Are you with me?
    – CocoPop
    Jun 27, 2014 at 1:59

"Using" wouldn't make sense, but you could replace of use with useful. "I hope that my working experience and education can be useful to West China Supermarkets."

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