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Using 'used to' for past habits

Average: 4.1 (29 votes)

I used to snowboard

'I used to ski, but now I snowboard.'

'Used to' for past habits

We use 'used to' to talk about past events which we no longer do. We only use it to talk about the past; there is no similar expression for the present.

'I studied French, but I don’t anymore.' → 'I used to study French.'
'In the past I smoked, but I don't now.' → 'I used to smoke.'

Note: after 'used' to we alway use the infinitive. Never use a continuous or past tense verb:

'I used to smoke.'
'I used to smoking.'
'I used to smoked.'

Asking questions using 'use to'

We usually use 'did' when we ask about past habits.

The typical question form is:

'Did you use to watch Mickey Mouse?'
'Did you use to like school?'

Note: 'Use to' is used in the question form not 'used to'.

Answering 'use to' questions

'Use to' questions can be answered in a couple of ways. Take a look at the follwing question and response:

'Did you use to wear a school uniform?'
'Yes, I used to wear a horrible uniform!'
(or in negative sentences)
'I didn't use to wear a uniform'. or 'I used not to...'

Using 'would' instead of 'used to'

We use 'would' when we want to talk about how often a past habit happenened. It can have the same meaning as 'used to'. For example:

'I used to go swimming twice a week.'→ ' I would go swimming twice a week.'
Note: Both of these sentences have the same meaning.

We can use 'would' instead of 'used to' when a time is mentioned:

'When I was young, I used to visit my grandmother every summmer.'→ ' When I was young, I would visit my grandmother every summer.'
Note: Both of these sentences have the same meaning.

If the sentence is not about a repeating habit/action, or does not include a time expression, we can not use 'would':

'I used to play piano.'→'I would play piano.'

It is more natural to say:

'I used to play piano. I would practise every day.'

Comments

One question about "used to"

I've just read that

"I used to play the piano" - it is NOT for past habits.
"I used to visit my grandmother when I was at school" - it is for past habits.

How can I translate the first sentence. - "I played the piano a lot and may be I play now as well"?

Chris, please, help me!

And I thought that I should used "play THE piano", "play THE guitar". May be here "piano" is not a noun?

Hi Grivna

What you read probably means that 'used to' refers to past states whereas 'would' is used for repeating actions like habits. Casually, we don't need to use the article 'the'. Hope that helps.

Thanks

Chris,

Thanks a lot, it is much clearer to me after your reply.

"I used to play piano, I used to practise (would practise) every day." In the second part we have a repeating action, so we my replace "used to" by "would".

Unfortunately I did not used to have a casual conversation, so my knowledge of English a little bit formal.

But I hope I am getting better!

Thanks again and have a nice day!

used to many times

I used to use this expression in the schooll, because I lied to speak about the things I used to do when I was a child, specially sports.

I am used to

grivna,

I guess, "I played the piano a lot and may be I play now as well" should be said as "I am used to playing piano."

----------
Every witch has her own crystal ball.

i..I

'In the past I smoked, but i(Sleepy don't now.' → 'I used to smoke.'

follwing

'Use to' questions can be answered in a couple of ways. Take a look at the foll(o)wing question and response:

wear...wear

'Did you use to wear a school uniform?'
'Yes, I used to wear (a wear) a horrible uniform!'

happened

We use 'would' when we want to talk about how often a past habit happen(en)ed. It can have the same meaning as 'used to'. For example:

a little mistake

Hi,

In the Answering 'use to' questions paragraph you repeated one part of the sentence.
'Yes, I used to wear a (wear a) horrible uniform!'

In the How to use 'the Passive' lesson, where I have no possibility to add a comment, you also repeated one part of the sentence
'In passive sentences the object becomes the subject and focus of the (of the) sentence.'

Please correct them! Thank You!

Thanks, Kate!

Hi Kate,

Thanks for pointing out those mistakes. I appreciate it!

Chris

missing wear

Hi Chris,

The 'wear' verb is missing now... Sad

Kate

Thanks for both corrections :)

Kate

Thanks AGAIN Kate.

Hi Kate,

thanks again! I need to be more careful!

Chris

USED TO

When we are talking about playing an instrument, we need to put the definite article 'the' before the instrument: plaY THE PIANO.

Rather complicated lesson,

Rather complicated lesson, espessially with would. I am almost confused:(

The lesson is easy to

The lesson is easy to understand but wat do you mean we don't need to say "to play THE piano" ?! Confusing...

hi denitsa

I agree with you THE lesson is easy to understand. and you know I put the before lesson because we both know which lesson we are talking about. I think that we don't need to say "to play the piano" is right because it doesn't important to know which piano we played exactly. Wink

Yeah, maybe

And still... Everywhere in my lessons I`ve read "play THe piano"... Until today. It`s confusing , you know. Smile

suMMMer )))

I saw a little mistake - three M ;-( in this sentense:

'When I was young, I used to visit my grandmother every summmer.'