ESL grammar · expressions · Past Simple · tenses · Verb

Upgrade Your English with Used To – I Used to Live in London

You can use the expression “used to” for things that were true in the past, but they are not now. People may have changed their habits, or they have died, etc. Often, used to speaks about the distant past (not about yesterday).

For instance, when you were a kid you had a stamp collection, but you don’t collect stamps today. So you can say: I used to collect stamps when I was a kid.

Please note two important things:

1 About the pronunciation: in this expression, used is said with a [t] at the end. So in phonetic script you say this word [u:st].

(Normally you say used with a z and then d, and pronounce it like this: [u:zd].)

For an explanation about phonetic script and how you can use it to know how to say every word in English, look here.

2 After used to, you put a verb in its basic form (infinitive).

Here are some more sentences with used to:

– We used to have our meetings on Tuesday mornings, but now we usually have them on Wednesday afternoons.

– Sven used to wear a red tie all the time, but he’s changed his style.

– Mother used to die her hair, until she turned completely gray and she gave up.

– The factory used to manufacture textiles in our country, but they’ve moved to cheaper locations.

Grammar note: Used to is actually the past form of use to.

Negatives of Use To 

The negative of use to is “didn’t use to,” but in formal language you should say “used not to.”

Examples:

I didn’t use to cook vegetarian meals, but they’re actually much easier to make, and tasty, too.

The Labour Party used not to support immigrant restrictions, but recent developments have made them change course.

Exercise

Do this exercise online here, and check your answers.

Continue the sentence with “used to” and the words between brackets.

Your sentence may also be negative.

Here is an example:

In the past, mourners used to wear different colours to express their grief. (not always wear black).

In the past, mourners__ didn’t always use to wear black__________________.

1 Our manager was known as an aggressive negotiator. He ________________ (never leave the table without a deal).

2 In the 1950s, women styled themselves slightly differently. For instance, they _______________ (wear petticoats and tight corsets).

3 Mother loved flowers, especially daffodils and tulips. Father _______________ (often buy her flowers before the week’s end).

4 Once, housewives didn’t have vacuum cleaners, so they ______________ (beat the dust out of the rugs).

5 People in the past assumed rather naively that cigarettes wouldn’t harm your health. Gramps ___________________ (happily smoke two packs a day).

6 Only two generations ago, girls didn’t go to university, but only boys _______________ (attend).

7 When William was a kid, he believed that something bad would happen when he stepped on a line between the floor tiles, so you _______________ (find him hopping around queerly like a frog).

8 Don’t you know the actress Esther Williams? She ___________________ (be a swimming champion).

9 From the earliest age, I loved reading. I ____________________ (read in bed shining a flashlight under the blankets).

10 What’s this quaint old pub? Oh, this is where my classmates and I ___________________ (play chess after school).

5 thoughts on “Upgrade Your English with Used To – I Used to Live in London

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