Used to

From Teflpedia
Disambiguation - not to be confused with be used to, get used to or become used to.

Used to is an English semi-auxiliary verb form which uses in the past tense, and consists of the preterite of the verb use, with a to-infinitive.

Habit or situation in the past[edit]

Used to + "verb"[edit]

This is used to describe repeated or habitual situations which existed in the past but which no longer exist or occur.

  • Statement: "I used to play football."
  • Affirmative: "I did use to play football."
  • Negative: "I didn't use to play football."
  • Question: "Did you use to play football?"
  • Negative question: "Didn't you use to play football?"

It is similar in meaning to past time would, though as would is a modal verb, its grammar is vastly different.

"used to be"[edit]

Is used to describe circumstances rather than actions:

  • There used to be a cinema here.

The spelling of the negative can cause problems:

  • I didn't use to smoke a lot.
  • There didn't use to be a cinema here.


A quick lesson may be created by asking students to imagine that they have moved from their present country to a new one.

Ask them what they used to do in their old country. Then ask them what they must get used to in the new country. Then ask them to imagine that they have been living in the country for six months. What are they getting used to? Finally ask them to imagine they have been living in the new country for five years. What are they now used to doing?