What’s the Difference Between “Use” and “Usage”?
- Use can function as a verb with several different meanings, but usually means “to put into service or action.” As a noun, use also has a broad range of definitions, but often refers to “the act of putting something into service or action.”
- Usage only ever functions as a noun, typically referring to “a customary or firmly established practice,” “the customary manner in which words are used in a language,” or it can also refer to “the act of using.”
- ○ Did you use the discount code I gave you? (Verb)
- ○ Yes, I made use of the code you gave me. (Noun)
- ○ Our town was asked to reduce water usage because of the drought.
Is It “Use” or “Usage”?
Use can be both a verb and a noun, while usage can only function as a noun.
Use has a wide range of definitions, whether it’s acting as a verb or a noun.
Continue reading to learn more about these commonly confused words.
“Use” as a Verb
As a verb, use often refers to “put something into action or service for a specific purpose.”
Did you use my laundry detergent?
We used the guide and studied all night.
He told me to use baking soda and vinegar to help remove the stains.
But it can also mean:
“to exploit or take unfair advantage”
“to ingest or consume on a regular basis”
Use is also part of the phrasal verb use up which means “to utilize all of something until there is none left.”
Did you use up all of the coins I had saved?
Is It “Use To” or “Used To”?
When referencing something that happened routinely in the past or that is familiar, then use used to.
- We used to play together when we were kids.
- My parents are used to my younger brothers always fighting.
- Didn’t he also use to play with the neighbor down the street?
It may help to remember that used to is usually the correct option. Use to works only if paired with did or didn’t to describe something that happened in the past but not anymore.
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“Use” as a Noun
As a noun, use usually refers to “the act of utilizing something.”
The teachers were questioning the use of the student’s time.
The use of the tools was strictly prohibited.
It’s also common for use to mean “a purpose for which something is utilized.”
The supplements are known to have many uses.
“Usage” as a Noun
Usage can only function as a noun. It means:
“a customary or firmly established way of doing something”
Proper usage dictates that everyone roll the dice at the same time.
“the way in which words or phrases are commonly used in a language”
He asked for a book recommendation on proper English usage.
Usage can sometimes be synonymous with use (noun), but keep in mind it doesn’t have as wide a range.
The department head wanted to see a decrease in use.
The department head wanted to see a decrease in usage.
Proper usage of these two words requires you to remember that:
- use can be both a verb and a noun.
- usage can only be a noun.