Used to is a common phrase in English. It is for actions in the past. This lesson shows you how to use it properly. When you are ready, try the tests at the bottom.
When You Can Use “Used to”
Used to is a phrase used to show something happened in the past but it does not happen any more. It could be either of these two options:
- Things in the past that are no longer true
- Actions you did in the past but not anymore
Used to Structure
Always use a base verb after used to:
Used to + Base Verb
- I used to live in Japan. Now I live in Canada.
- She used to play soccer when she was a child.
There are two different phrases depending on the situation.
Used to is for positive sentences.
- I used to play with dolls.
- She used to like swimming.
Use to is for negative sentences and questions.
- I didn’t use to have a car.
- They didn’t use to live in a big house.
- Did you use to live in Japan?
- Did she use to have a red bike?
In speaking, they sound the same, but be careful in writing. You need to use the correct version. Take a look at this conversation to get an idea how to use “used to”.
Lucy: Did you use to live downtown?
Dave: No, I used to live in the country. Now I live downtown.
Lucy: Do you like it downtown?
Dave: Yes, I do. I used to like the quiet of the country, but now I prefer downtown because of all the things to do.
With the explanation and examples, you should have a better idea of how to use “used to” in English. Are you ready to check your understanding? Try these tests: