The phrase “used to” is frequently used in English grammar. It has many uses in different scenarios. “Used to” refers to habits of people done in the past. Here is a detailed explanation of what “used to” is with examples.
What Does “Used To” Mean?
The phrase “used to” means habits that people have done in the past and no longer do it now. For example, “I used to drink alcohol”. Here, in the past, the person drank alcohol but now the person doesn’t drink it.
“Used to” also talks about the circumstances in the past that are no longer true. For example, “She used to live in America”. Here, the person was living in America but she no longer does.
Even, “used not to” is used sometimes to construct a negative sentence. For example, “The administration used not to allow shops to function after 10 P.M”. In this example, the administration didn’t allow the shops to function after 10 PM in the past. Though “used not to” is the right usage, the most common usage to construct negative sentences is “didn’t + use to”.
Interrogative sentences are also formed using “used to”. For example, “Didn’t he used to work at the same office as we did?”. However, using “used to” to form such questions is not the right way according to many English experts. Instead, they recommend using “did + subject + use to” to form questions. For example, “I have seen you somewhere, did you use to live at Tom’s apartment?”.
“Used To” Followed By An Infinitive
Mother used to sing pop songs in her teens but stopped singing after getting married. This example means that the mother regularly sang pop songs in the past but after marriage, she is not singing anymore. Here the subject is “Mother” and “sing” is the infinitive verb.
Here are a few more examples.
- “Amelie used to watch TV a lot”. Here, Amelie watched TV regularly in the past but now she doesn’t). (Subject (Amelie) + used to + infinitive (watch)).
- “My children used to study till midnight but now they go to bed by 9 P.M”. (Subject (Children) + used to + infinitive (study)).
- “I used to travel frequently when I was not married but now after marriage, I rarely travel alone”. (Subject (I) + used to + infinitive (travel)).
- “Diana used to think that person was shy but once she got to know him she changed her perception of him”. (Subject (Diana) + used to + infinitive (think)).
- “He didn’t use to like vegetables when he was a child but now in his adulthood, he loves eating them”. (Subject (he) + negative word (didn’t) + use to + infinitive (like)).
- “I used to work in Dubai”. (Subject (I) + used to + infinitive (work)).
Use To And Used To Synonym For Accustomed To
“Used to” is the phrase that is synonymous with “accustomed to” or “habituated to” and not “use to”. So, in a sentence, when talking of a person who gets accustomed to something or habituated to something, use “used to” instead of “use to”.
He used to pray every time before eating dinner but now he stopped the ritual. Here, “used to” is equivalent to habituated so it fits rightly in the sentence. The sentence means the person offered prayers regularly in the past before having dinner but now he isn’t doing it.
On the other hand, if the example is written as:
“He use to pray every time before eating dinner but now stopped the ritual”. The “use to” in this sentence is not equivalent to “habituated or accustomed to” thereby the sentence doesn’t make any sense. So, never use “use to” in such scenarios.
How “Used To” Is Used To Show A Former Fact, Habit, Or Action
“Used to” is used to convey a former fact, habit, or terminated action. It is used only to describe something in the past. It is not used in the present tense. Here are a few examples that tell how “used to” is used in expressing a former fact, habit, and terminated action.
Using “Used To” to show a former fact
- The public library used to be opposite my school now it has shifted to another location. Here, “used to” shows that the public library was opposite the school in the past, as the public library got shifted to a new location, the earlier statement has become a former fact.
- The supermarket used to be on the main street but now it is in the alleyway.
Using “Used To” to show habit
- He used to drink water regularly before bedtime at night. Here, the “used to” describes that the person had the habit of drinking water before going to bed at night.
- Tom used to stammer when speaking.
Using “Used To” to show terminated action
- He used to work out in the gym before going to work but now he is working out at his home. Here, the person terminated the action of working out in the gym and started the same in his home.
- She used to add milk to her tea but she isn’t doing it anymore. The “used to” shows that the person terminated the action of adding milk to the tea.
Is It “Used To” Or “Used”
“Used to” talks about repeated actions that have been done in the past and are not done in the present. It is used in the past tense.
On the other hand, “used” has many different meanings. For example, I have a used car with me. Here in this example “used” tells that the person owns a car that has been owned by someone else. Another example is “Tom used advanced tools to construct the house”. In this example, the term “used” describes Tom taking the help of advanced tools for the construction of his house.
How To Know Which Form To Use
When describing any habits in the past, then the “used to” phrase is used. In comparison, when making use of some object or taking help from somebody, or exploiting a person for one’s own advantage, then “used” is utilized. Here are a few examples of each one of them.
- I used to brush my teeth at night but now I don’t.
- She used to walk to her office in the morning but now she uses the bus.
- Uncle Sam used to cook noodles with vegetables.
- My children used to get up early in the morning and exercise. Nowadays, they wake up late and have stopped exercising.
- Earlier, it used to rain adequately in the monsoon season. Now, due to global warming, it rains scantily.
- My mother used to get me a bag of chocolates whenever she visited the grocery store but now she has stopped doing it.
- I used to drive my car by myself but after I met with an accident I hired a driver to take me around.
- I used the services of a visa consultant to help with my US visa.
- She used a shovel to clear the snow in front of her house.
- He used me to fulfill his political ambitions.
- The school principal used a green ink pen to sign certificates.
- Ross used Tom to build his boat.
- Amelie used Shawn’s skills to complete her project.
- Although Adam purchased a used car, it is working fine.
How To Use “Get Used To” Correctly
“Get used to” is used to describe being in the process of getting accustomed to something. Even “get used to + verb [-ing]” is used to become familiar with something or someone. Here are a few examples that show how “get used to” is used in different scenarios.
- I am (auxiliary verb) finding it a bit difficult to settle into my new home but I know that I will (auxiliary verb) soon get used to it.
- It took my father years to get used to adjusting to Australia after moving from India.
- After shifting to a new hostel, having dinner at 6 P.M is not what I am used to but as days go by I will get used to it.
- I shifted to Mexico from Alsaka two years back, it took me a year to get used to the climate.
- Used To – How To Use and Common Mistakes
- ‘Used to’ + infinitive and ‘be’ or ‘get used to’ + ‘-ing’
- ‘Used To’
- USED TO (modal verb) definition and synonyms
- “Used to” with Infinitive or Gerund – Explanations and Examples
- Used to | auxiliary of past habit and terminated action
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