Use vs. Usage - Complete Guide (With Examples) (2023)

“Use” and “usage” are almost identical when written down. However, there are some nuances that you need to understand that allows for native speakers to create a subtle difference between them. This article will explore when to use which variation.

What Is The Difference Between “Use” And “Usage”?

“Use” works when something is being used. It is a verb form, so we must always use it when we are “using” something (i.e. “not in common use”). “Usage” is the state of being “used,” and it refers to how something might be used (i.e. “not common usage”).

Use vs. Usage - Complete Guide (With Examples) (1)

You can think of “usage” as the noun form of the verb “to use.” We use it to describe the state for something to be used.

Of course, this doesn’t help too much when presented with nearly identical examples like this:

  • This uniform is not in common use.
  • This uniform is not common usage.

Both of these examples are correct. The only subtle difference is “in common use” or “common usage.” We use “in” as a preposition because “use” is a verb that shows that we are using something.

“Usage” is a noun, meaning that a preposition is not required in a sentence.

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What Does “Use” Mean?

Let’s start by exploring the usage of “use” first. It’s the verb form, so it’s the one you’re more likely to come across.

“Use” means that we are using something. It is from the verb form “to use,” which shows that we are making something work or making it do things in an intended manner.

It’s common for us to use “use” synonymously with the noun “usage.” However, this is mostly true informally, and there aren’t many formal cases where it’s acceptable to write “use” in place of “usage.”

Example Sentences With “Use”

Some of these examples should help you with it:

  1. If you’re looking to use this correctly, we would recommend reading this guide.
  2. I’m sorry, but his use of this product is not ideal! We need to take it away from him right away.
  3. Your use of those strong words is almost unbearable for me. Please do not use them ever again.
  4. My language use has come under fire a few times. I’m not particularly happy about the way people treat me for it.
  5. If you hadn’t looked into how to use this thing, I’m sure we would have completely destroyed it by now.
  6. Your use of this machine is remarkable! How did you ever find out how to use it in such a way?
  7. This item is ready to use whenever you want, sir. I’ve made all the required changes that you wanted.

“Use” is a verb, and we use it to show that someone or something can “use” an item. It is sometimes correct as a noun (replacing “usage”), but this is only true colloquially.

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It’s best to try and avoid using “use” and “usage” synonymously in your writing. You need to make sure you’re able to make the difference clear formally.

What Does “Usage” Mean?

So, what exactly is the difference we’re looking for?

“Usage” is a noun. It refers to the state of something being used. Usually, a subject pronoun does not come before it (like you would expect from a verb). Instead, we let other nouns or object pronouns come before it or just show the state of how something happens when it is “used.”

If you’re confused about the pronoun rule, you can look at the following:

  • Subject pronoun: I use this.
  • Object pronoun: Her usage is quite remarkable.

Example Sentences With “Usage”

Perhaps some more examples will help you make sense of it:

  1. Your usage of this language after only a few weeks is remarkably impressive!
  2. His usage makes me squirm. I don’t like the way he did those things.
  3. If your language usage was any better, I’d have to find out where you got your brains from!
  4. I need to understand this energy usage bill! I really don’t like what I’m looking at here.
  5. The fuel usage of this car is almost too much to handle! I can’t afford the expense it gives.
  6. Whatever the usage numbers are going to be, I’m more than happy to pay them for you!
  7. I’ll need to understand the usage numbers before the end of the week. Please file the report on my desk.

“Usage” is a noun. We use it with an object pronoun or another noun (i.e. “language usage”). It’s a great way to show how something is being used rather than the direct act of using it.

Are “Use” And “Usage” Interchangeable?

If writing informally, there is no reason why “use” and “usage” cannot be used interchangeably. However, it can create a bad habit in your writing, so it’s best to treat “use” as a verb and “usage” as a noun where it counts.

With that said, we can still provide a few interchangeable examples to show you how it works informally:

  • Your language usage is impressive.
  • Your language use is impressive.
  • His usage of these phrases is baffling to me!
  • His use of these phrases is baffling to me!

While it is correct to write “use” and “usage” synonymously in the noun form, there is never a case where it can be written the other way. “Usage” can never be a verb:

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  • Correct: I use a lot of toothpaste.
  • Incorrect: She usage all the good toys!

Is “Use” Or “Usage” Most Prevalent?

Let’s quickly refer to some graphical evidence to see which is the most popular of the two phrases.

According to Google Ngram Viewer, “use” is vastly more popular than “usage.” However, these data points aren’t necessarily fair to “usage” since “use” is a very common verb that’s used, meaning that it is much more likely to be used in common English writing.

Use vs. Usage - Complete Guide (With Examples) (2)

Unfortunately, there isn’t a way we can separate the direct verb usage of “use” to compare it more closely to “usage” in a similar context.

However, you would most likely still find “use” the most popular of the two phrases. After all, there are plenty of times where it can be used in place of “usage.”

Common Confusions About “Use” And “Usage”

Finally, let’s finish off with some common confusions that people have over the terms “use” and “usage.” Hopefully, by this stage of the article, you’ll have a much better understanding of how each of the following works.

Is It “Language Use” Or “Language Usage”?

“Language use” and “language usage” are both correct. We can use “use” and “usage” synonymously as nouns when working with the word “language.” This is a common trend that native speakers use. “Usage” is more formally correct, but they both work well.

  • Your language use is really impressive.
  • I do not have much of this language usage under my belt.

Is It “Energy Use” Or “Energy Usage”?

“Energy usage” is grammatically correct. We use it in this form because it refers to a noun. It means the amount of energy that we use rather than the act of actually using the energy. Therefore, you should always use “usage.”

  • Correct: Energy usage is the main contributor to why our bills are so pricey.
  • Incorrect: Energy use isn’t going to go up by much more at the end of this month.

Is It “For Future Use” Or “For Future Usage”?

“For future use” works best when we are talking about an action. This allows us to utilize “use” as a verb (as long as another verb is present to aid it). “For future usage” works as a noun, which allows us to state the future usage we expect from someone.

  • For future use, I recommend you try out one of the following products.
  • You should remember that one for future usage.

Is It “Ready For Use” Or “Ready For Usage”?

“Ready for usage” is correct because we need the noun form when talking about the state of whether we can use something. If we used the preposition “to,” then “use” would be correct as a verb to show that it is ready to use.

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  • Correct: This building isn’t ready for usage, so you should come back later.
  • Incorrect: This vehicle is not ready for use just yet.

Here is the alternative form we can use with “to” that allows the verb form to work:

  • Correct: This is ready to use now if you’d like to take it back with you.
  • Incorrect: I’m sorry, but this isn’t ready to usage now!

Quiz: Have You Mastered Use vs. Usage?

Let’s finish up with a quiz to see what you’ve learned from this! As a side note, make sure you stick to formal writing rules for these answers!

  1. Your language (A. use / B. usage) is very strange. Who taught you?
  2. I did not (A. use / B. usage) any of the items you asked me not to.
  3. She thought her (A. use / B. usage) was better than others, but it was not.
  4. My (A. use / B. usage) of these abhorrent words was unforgivable.
  5. The car is finally ready to (A. use / B. usage), Mr. Smith.

Quiz Answers

  1. B
  2. A
  3. B
  4. B
  5. A

Use vs. Usage - Complete Guide (With Examples) (3)

Martin Lassen

Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.

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What is difference between use and usage? ›

Both refer to utilizing something in order to achieve particular results. However, 'use' can function as both a noun and a verb, whereas, 'usage' is only a noun and it is more formal than 'use' as a noun.

Where can we use usage in a sentence? ›

Example Sentences

increasing usage of the nation's highways This word occurs in casual usage. differences between British and American usage I came across an uncommon usage I'd like to discuss with you.

Do words have definitions or usages? ›

Words, by themselves, do not have meanings. (The 'meanings' of words we read in a dictionary were assigned by lexicographers. And lexicographers depend on the meanings given to these words by other humans.) 2.

What does proper usage mean? ›

Related Definitions

Proper Use means use of the Proprietary Information solely by the recipient for the objectives of this Agreement.

What are the usage rules? ›

Elementary Rules of Usage
  • Form the possessive singular of nouns with 's. ...
  • In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last. ...
  • Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas. ...
  • Place a comma before and or but introducing an independent clause.

What are the two meanings of use to? ›

Used to refers to something familiar or routine, as in "I'm used to getting up early for work," or to say that something repeatedly happened in the past like "we used to go out more." Use to typically occurs with did; "did you use to work there?" or "it didn't use to be like that," describing something in the past that ...

What is usage in writing? ›

Usage is similar to grammar: it helps determine how you should use a language and which words you should use in a specific context. However, usage focuses more on the meaning of words than on their mechanical function within the language.

Were usage in a sentence? ›

For the past indicative second person and all plural forms, use were. “They were in the stadium,” and “You were standing the whole game.” Also use were for the hypothetical or fantastical subjunctive mood for both singular and plural forms, as in “If they were to bring back popcorn, I would eat it.”

Why is proper usage of words important? ›

Words have meaning and when organized in proper grammatical structures, that meaning is transmitted to provide communication. When words no longer hold to their meaning, then communication is hampered and misunderstandings arise. In addition, the context of the use of words is important for furthering understanding.

What is incorrect word usage? ›

Incorrect usage of words is due to lack of grammar, lack of reading, lack of exposing oneself to new words or new contexts.

What word has many uses? ›

versatile Add to list Share. To describe a person or thing that can adapt to do many things or serve many functions, consider the adjective versatile. In E.B.

Which is the correct usage? ›

In a defining clause, use that. In non-defining clauses, use which. Remember, which is as disposable as a sandwich bag. If you can remove the clause without destroying the meaning of the sentence, the clause is nonessential and you can use which.

Should we use proper usage? ›

Should is used to say that something is the proper or best thing to do, or to say that someone ought to do something or must do something. Adam could visit us on Monday. This tells us that it is possible Adam will visit on Monday, maybe he can visit us, but maybe he has other options, too.

How do you properly use? ›

The is used to refer to specific or particular nouns; a/an is used to modify non-specific or non-particular nouns. We call the the definite article and a/an the indefinite article. For example, if I say, "Let's read the book," I mean a specific book.

What does usage mean in business? ›

a measure of the quantity of a product consumed by a user in a given period; users may be subdivided as heavy, moderate and light.

Is it I used to be or I use to be? ›

Frequently asked questions about used to or use to

Is it used to be or use to be? Use to and used to are commonly confused words. In the case of “used to be”, the latter (with “d”) is correct, since you're describing an action or state in the past.

What is the meaning of I am used to it? ›

Be used to means 'be accustomed to' or 'be familiar with'. It can refer to the past, present or future. We follow be used to with a noun phrase, a pronoun or the -ing form of a verb: I work in a hospital, so I'm used to long hours. (I am accustomed to/familiar with long hours.)

What are usage types? ›

Definition: A usage type is a classification for lexical units on the basis of sociolinguistic and historical factors.

What is pattern of usage? ›

1. A user's behavioral patterns on a website, application, or electronic device. Learn more in: Insights Into Young Children's Coding With Data Analytics. 2.

Was were usage in grammar? ›

The Difference between Was and Were – Meanings

So, with 'I' (first person singular) and 'he/she/it' (third-person singular), one can use 'was', whereas with 'we' (first-person plural), 'they' (third-person plural) and 'you' (second-person singular/plural), one can use 'were'.

Do we use have for plural? ›

You'll notice that the only subject you should use "has" with is third person singular (he has, she has, it has). You should use "have" everywhere else. The subject "Al and Sue" is third person plural (the same as "they"), so use "have." Al and Sue have purchased a new home.

What are the 10 examples of were? ›

[M] [T] They were plainly dressed. [M] [T] All of the dogs were alive. [M] [T] I wish I were in Paris now. [M] [T] There were ten eggs in all.

What are common usage errors? ›

8 Common Usage Errors, or: How to Make Me Judge You, part 2.
  • Should of/would of (never correct).
  • Lose/loose.
  • Hear/here.
  • Who's/whose.
  • Than/then. ...
  • Affect/effect. ...
  • Breath/breathe. ...
  • Were/we're.
Dec 3, 2016

What are the three most common word choice errors? ›

Using the Correct Word Stem with the Wrong Prefix or Suffix. Translation Errors and Collocations. Spelling Mistakes That Can Change Your Meaning.

What are usage errors in writing? ›

Writers often produce usage errors in one of several ways. They misuse a word with a meaning similar to that of a more appropriate term, they employ the wrong homophone—a word that sounds like the intended term but it spelled differently—or they mangle an idiom.

What is the most common use word? ›

The most commonly-used word in English might only have three letters – but it packs a punch. 'The'. It's omnipresent; we can't imagine English without it. But it's not much to look at.

What is the synonym of uses? ›

The words employ and utilize are common synonyms of use.

What do you call a person who is good at everything? ›

Multitalented.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2023.

How do you use a semicolon in a sentence example? ›

John finished all his homework, but Kathleen did not finish hers. Correct: John finished all his homework; Kathleen did not finish hers. Semicolons should not be used between a dependent clause and an independent clause.

Is usage singular or plural? ›

The noun usage can be countable or uncountable. In more general, commonly used, contexts, the plural form will also be usage. However, in more specific contexts, the plural form can also be usages e.g. in reference to various types of usages or a collection of usages.

What kind of word is usage? ›

The manner or the amount of using; use. Habit or accepted practice. The ways and contexts in which spoken and written words are used, determined by a lexicographer's intuitition or from corpus analysis.

What part of speech is usage? ›

verb (used with object), used, us·ing. to employ for some purpose; put into service; make use of: to use a knife.

What are the 5 uses of a semicolon? ›

Here are the rules for using semicolons correctly; we hope you're taking notes.
  • 1 Semicolons connect related independent clauses. ...
  • 2 Delete the conjunction when you use a semicolon between two independent clauses. ...
  • 3 Use semicolons in a serial list. ...
  • 4 Use semicolons with conjunctive adverbs. ...
  • 5 Use a semicolon to give a wink.
Nov 9, 2022

What are 3 ways to use a semicolon? ›

3 Ways to Use a Semicolon
  • Use a semicolon to connect related independent clauses. An independent clause is a sentence that communicates a complete thought and makes sense on its own. ...
  • Use a semicolon with a conjunctive adverb or transitional phrase. ...
  • Use semicolons to separate items in a list.
Jun 7, 2021

What are the 2 Rules of semicolons? ›

Rules for Using Semicolons
  • A semicolon is most commonly used to link (in a single sentence) two independent clauses that are closely related in thought. ...
  • Use a semicolon between two independent clauses that are connected by conjunctive adverbs or transitional phrases.

What is the difference between use and usage in linguistics? ›

Language use refers to the communicative meaning of language. It can be compared to usage, which refers to the rules for making language and the structures we use to make it.


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