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  ENGLISH GRAMMAR for ESL learners  


Used to + Infinitive
(example : I used to smoke)



The structure used to + the infinitive is sometimes confusing for learners of English. Here is an explanation with examples of use.

AFFIRMATIVE NEGATIVE INTERROGATIVE
Long Form Contracted Form
I used to smoke I did not use to smoke I didn't use to smoke Did I use to smoke?
You used to smoke You did not use to smoke You didn't use to smoke Did you use to smoke?
He/she used to smoke He/she did not used to smoke He/she didn't used to smoke Did he/she used to smoke?
We used to smoke We did not use to smoke We didn't use to smoke Did we use to smoke?
You used to smoke You did not use to smoke You didn't use to smoke Did you use to smoke?
They used to smoke They did not used to smoke They didn't used to smoke Did they used to smoke?

The structure used to + infinitive is used to refer to a past habit or situation which no longer exists at the present time.

  • It refers to past habits and states that do not exist today, something that you did regularly or repeatedly in the past but no longer do today.

  • It exists only in the past.

    Here are some examples :

    • Tom used to drink coffee. Now he prefers tea.
    • Julie used to fly from London to Paris. Now she takes the Eurostar.
    • I used to drive to work. Now I take the underground.
    • Bill used to live in Wales. Now he lives in Scotland.
    • Wendy used to eat meat. Now she's a vegetarian.
    • Eva used to wear glasses. Now she wears contact lenses.
    • My mother didn't use to do much exercise. Now she goes walking with a friend.
    • My grandfather didn't use to approve of social networks.
      Now he uses them every day to stay in contact with his grandchildren!

  • This structure cannot be used to say how often something happened, or how long it took.

    • Julie used to visit Paris seven times. Julie visited Paris seven times.
    • Bill used to live in Wales for three years. Bill lived in Wales for three years.

N.B.  Do not to confuse 'used to' with 'to be/to get used to'. See more...



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Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.

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