used to (do)

Learn and practise the construction used to.

A Study this example situation:

Nicola doesn’t travel much these days.
She prefers to stay at home.

But she used to travel a lot.
She used to go away two or three times a year.

She used to travel a lot = she travelled often in the past, but
she doesn’t do this any more.

used  to

B I used to do something = I did it often in the past, but not any more:

  • I used to play tennis a lot, but I don’t play very much now.
  • David used to spend a lot of money on clothes. These days he can’t aff ord it.
  • ‘Do you go to the cinema much?’ ‘Not now, but I used to.’ (= I used to go)

We also use used to … for things that were true, but are not true any more:

  • This building is now a furniture shop. It used to be a cinema.
  • I used to think Mark was unfriendly, but now I realise he’s a very nice person.
  • I’ve started drinking coff ee recently. I never used to like it before.
  • Lisa used to have very long hair when she was a child.
CI used to do something’ is past. There is no present. You cannot say ‘I use to do’. To talk about the present, we use the present simple (I do).

used to

  • We used to live in a small village, but now we live in a city.
  • There used to be four cinemas in the town. Now there is only one.
D The normal question form is did (you) use to … ? :

  • Did you use to eat a lot of sweets when you were a child? (= did you do this often?)

The negative form is didn’t use to … (used not to … is also possible):

  • I didn’t use to like him. (or I used not to like him.)
E Compare I used to do and I was doing:

  • I used to watch TV a lot. (= I watched TV often in the past, but I don’t do this any more)
  • I was watching TV when Rob called. (= I was in the middle of watching TV)

Do not confuse I used to do and I am used to doing. The structures and meanings are different:

  • I used to live alone. (= I lived alone in the past, but I no longer live alone.)
  • I am used to living alone. (= I live alone, and it’s not a problem for me because I’ve lived alone for some time.)