UNIT 17. Used to (do)

UK-07 grammar


Study this example situation:

A few years ago (David jogging)
these days (David working)

David quit jogging two years ago. He doesn’t jog anymore.
But he used to job.
He used to job three miles a day.
He used to job = he jogged regularly in the past, but he doesn’t job now.

|<=== he used to jog ===>|         he doesn't jog now
past _______________ 2 years ago _______________ now 


Something used to happen = it happened regularly in the past but no longer happens:

I used to play tennis a lot, but I don’t play very often now.
David used to spend a lot of money on clothes. These days he can’t afford it.
“Do you go to the movies much?” “Not anymore, but I used to.” (= I used to go)

We also use used to … for something that was true but is not true anymore:

The building is now a furniture store. It used to be a movie theater.
I used to think Mark was unfriendly, but now I realize he’s a very nice person.
I’ve started drinking coffee recently. I never used to like it before.
Nicole used to have very long hair when she was a child.


“I used to do something” is past. There is no present form. You cannot say “I use to do.”
To talk about the present, use the simple present (I do). Compare:

Past | he used to play | we used to live | there used to be
Present | he plays | we live | there is

We used to live in a small town, but now we live in Chicago.
There used to be four movie theaters in town. Now there is only one.


The normal question form is did (you) use to …?

Did you use to eat a lot of candy when you were a child?

The negative form is didn’t use to …

I didn’t use to like him.


Compare I used to do and I was doing:

I used to watch TV a lot when I was little. (= I watched TV regularly in the past, but I no longer do this)
I was watching TV when Mike called. (= I was in the middle of watching a program)


Do not confuse I used to do and I am used to doing.
The structure and meaning 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 I don’t find it strange of difficult because I’ve been living alone some time.)