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Used to - Easy Learning Grammar

The verb used to is a ‘marginal’ modal verb. Unlike the other modal verbs, it is only found in the past tense. Therefore, when it is used with do to make negatives and questions, the form of the auxiliary verb is always did.Used to is used as follows: – to describe an activity or a state that happened many times in the past.
  • Gerry always used to go for a run before breakfast.
  • Peter didn’t use to say things like that when I knew him.
  • to refer to an activity or state that was true in the past but is no longer true.
  • I used to like rock climbing when I was younger.
  • You didn’t use to be so stressed!
Used to takes the following forms:
  • The form used to is used with all subjects e.g. I, we, you, he, she, it, they.
I used toWe used to
You used toYou used to
She used toThey used to
  • I used to live in New Zealand.
  • He used to deliver newspapers papers but he owns the shop now.
  • Nancy and Bill used to live in California.
There are two forms for a negative:
  • did not/didn’t use to.
  • We didn’t use to have central heating when I was a child.
  • Alan didn’t use to like children, but it’s different now he has his own.
  • used not/usedn’t to.
  • I used not to be able to watch myself on TV at all.
  • We used not to worry much about money.
  • Things usedn’t to be so bad.
There are two forms for a question:
  • did + subject + use to + base form:
    e.g. did he use to…?
  • Did they use to visit you often? – Well, Mary used to.
  • used + subject + to + base form:
    e.g. used he to… ?
  • Used he to play the guitar?
  • In negatives, the form with did is used the most. In questions, the form with did is almost always preferred.
The common contracted negative form is didn’t use to. The rarer contracted negative form is usedn’t to.
Do not confuse used to + base form with be used to
+ present participle, where used to means accustomed to.
  • They lived in India for a long time, so they are used to eating spicy food.

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