Used to

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Welcome to your USED TO lesson! In this topic we talk about:

• When do we use USED TO? 

• Other uses of USED TO. 

• USED TO in the present. 

• Questions and negative sentences using USED TO. 

• USED TO, or the Past Continuous? 


Take the quizzes when you’re ready! If you’re having problems, use the comment box to contact our English Teachers.

When do we use USED TO?

Have a look at this situation:

When I was young, I played tennis regularly. Now I don’t. – I used to play tennis.

USED TO means that something happened regularly in the past, but doesn’t happen any more.

Other uses of USED TO

As well as the previous rule, USED TO is also used for things that were true, but are not true any more:

I used to hate sprouts, now I love them.

There used to be a bridge here.

James used to have very long hair.

She used to like watching TV, now she doesn’t.

USED TO in the present

USED TO is used to talk about the past, there is no present form. When you want to talk about something that happens regularly in the present, you would use the Present Simple:


 Present Simple

They used to play tennis every week.

We used to live in London.

There used to be a tree here.

They play tennis every week.

We live in London.

There is a tree here.

Questions and negative sentences using USED TO

To ask questions, we add the auxiliary DID with USED:

Did you use to play tennis?

Didn’t she use to have blond hair?

Did you use to like cartoons?

The negative form is “didn’t use to”:

It’s a great restaurant but we didn’t use to like it.

I didn’t use to drink tea, now I love it.

USED TO, or the Past Continuous?

I used to eat chocolate when I was young. 
(I ate chocolate in the past, I don’t do that any more)

I was eating chocolate when you rang. 
(I was in the middle of eating when you interrupted)


Do not confuse these two, they do not mean the same thing. Look at these examples:

I used to work at night. 
(I don’t work at nights any more)

I am used to working at night. 
(I still work nights, and I am now comfortable with doing it)

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