How to use “used to ” to talk about the past

We use “used to” to talk about a past habit, something that happened regularly in the past but no longer happens.  For example:

He used to drink ten cups of coffee every day, but now he only drinks one cup.

She used to walk to school but now she drives.

used to play with dolls when I was a child.

photo by dkirkland

photo by dkirkland

We can also use “used to” to talk about a past state, something that was true but is no longer true.   For example:

used with permission from flickr via

used with permission from flickr via Mike Friberg

She used to like to listen to rock music but now she doesn’t.

I used to believe in the tooth fairy but now I don’t.

He used to have a mustache but now he doesn’t.

It is very easy to use:

Subject + used to + base verb

It is also easy to form the negative of “used to”.  Just like we use   “did not” or “didn’t”  + base verb to form the negative simple past, we also use “did not” or “didn’t”  + “use to” (drop the ‘d‘ in used) to form the negative of “used to”.  For example:

I didn’t use to like broccoli, but now I like it!

He didn’t use to work so much.

If you would like to practice using “used to”, click on the links below for exercises and games.

http://www.englishgrammarsecrets.com/usedto/exercise1.swf

http://www.englishclub.com/esl-games/grammar/jumbled-past-used-to-1.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/radio/specials/1346_gramchallenge15/page3.shtml

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