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.

Can I use presently to start a sentence? ›

2used to show that something happened after a short time Presently, the door opened again and three men stepped out. In this meaning presently usually comes at the beginning of a sentence. used to show that something will happen soon synonym shortly She'll be here presently.

What is usage mean? ›

usage noun (WORD)

the way something is treated or used: Sports equipment is designed to withstand hard usage. SMART Vocabulary: related words and phrases.

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.

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.

What should you not start a sentence with? ›

Never begin a sentence—or a clause—with also. Teach the elimination of but, so, and, because, at the beginning of a sentence. A sentence should not commence with the conjunctions and, for, or however....

Why can't you use and at the beginning of a sentence? ›

There is a commonly stated “rule” of grammar that beginning a sentence with and, or any other conjunction, is a mistake. But this is just not true. This supposed “rule” has no basis in actual writing, and even formal writing features plenty of sentences that start with and and other conjunctions.

Is nowadays followed by a comma? ›

When you start your sentence with nowadays, you should set it off with a comma, as it's an introductory element. You should also remember that nowadays isn't usually used to describe something temporary that happens to be occurring at the present moment.

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.

What is another term for usage? ›

Some common synonyms of usage are custom, habit, practice, and wont. While all these words mean "a way of acting fixed through repetition," usage suggests a customary action so generally followed that it has become a social norm.

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.

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

Multitalented.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster,

What word has 3 lots of double letters? ›

An old riddle asks, “Can you name a word with three consecutive double letters?” One possible answer is WOOLLEN - 'double U, double O, double L, …' A more satisfying solution is BOOKKEEPER (or BOOKKEEPING), the only common words with a consecutive triple double.

What word should you not end a sentence with? ›

Perhaps the most notable example of such is the rule against ending a sentence with a preposition (also known as preposition stranding, or sentence-terminal prepositions, for those of you who would like to impress/alienate your friends).

Is it grammatically correct to start a sentence with a conjunction? ›

There is nothing wrong with starting sentences with “and,” “but,” or other similar conjunctions. You may, however, encounter people who mistakenly believe that starting a sentence with a conjunction is an error, so consider your audience when deciding to structure your sentences this way.

Why can't you put a preposition at the end of a sentence? ›

Let's just cut to the chase: you absolutely can end a sentence with a preposition! The “rule” that says you can't really has no basis in actual writing. In fact, major style guides often consider this “rule” to be wrong and state that it is fine to end sentences with prepositions.

What is the rule for using And? ›

As a conjunction, “and” can also connect all kinds of different words: adjectives, verbs, nouns, and so on. When “and” joins two words like this, rather than joining two full independent clauses, it's incorrect to use a comma. Example sentences: “And” connecting verbs, adjectives, etc. Jeremy, and Paul have three cats.

What is the 3 comma rule? ›

COMMA RULE #3 – THE COMMA IN A COMPOUND SENTENCE: Use a comma before and, but, or, nor, for, so, or yet to join two independent clauses that form a compound sentence.

Do you put a comma after I was wondering? ›

“I was wondering” is a phrase used to politely introduce an interrogative sentence. It serves as an introductory phrase to a question and is usually followed by a comma – but not always. For example: I was wondering if you could please pick up dinner on the way home.

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

When you have a conjunctive adverb linking two independent clauses, you should use a semicolon. Some common conjunctive adverbs include moreover, nevertheless, however, otherwise, therefore, then, finally, likewise, and consequently. I needed to go for a walk and get some fresh air; also, I needed to buy milk.

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? ›

Usage is a noun - Word Type.

When should you use a semicolon instead of a comma? ›

Use a semicolon to join two related independent clauses in place of a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet). Make sure when you use the semicolon that the connection between the two independent clauses is clear without the coordinating conjunction.

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.

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.

What are the 14 punctuation marks and example? ›

There are 14 punctuation marks that are used in the English language. They are: the period, question mark, exclamation point, comma, colon, semicolon, dash, hyphen, brackets, braces, parentheses, apostrophe, quotation mark, and ellipsis.

How do you tell if a sentence is punctuated correctly? ›

Every sentence should include at least a capital letter at the start, and a full stop, exclamation mark or question mark at the end. This basic system indicates that the sentence is complete.

Why is word usage important? ›

Word usage is important when writing or speaking because word usage is what helps us to clearly articulate points with meanings and forms that are appropriate for the context and structure of a sentence. Understanding words and how to use them will greatly improve your ability to be an effective writer.


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