What is the meaning of "used to"? With "used to" we talk about something that was regular, in the usual course of things but then changed.
- "used to" for habits and regular actions in the past. It means we don't have these habits anymore and we don't do these things any longer.
When we were kids, we used to play snowballs. We played snowballs every winter, but we don't do that anymore.
I used to get up early when I was young, but now I'm not a morning person at all. I always got up early and it was normal, but not anymore.
I used to drink a lot of coffee but now I refrain from it. I had a habit of drinking a lot of coffee before, but now I don't have it anymore.
- "used to" for states in the past which are not true any longer in the present time
Lisa used to have long hair, but now she has a short haircut. She had been wearing long hair for a long time until she had it cut.
Winters used to be very cold when I was a child, the climate has become much milder since that time. Winters were very cold but they aren't anymore.
This building used to be a factory. A few years ago it was turned into an exhibition centre. It had been a factory for many years before it was reconstructed.
How to make sentences with "used to + infinitive"
"Used to" is always in the past simple. This is very important. In negative sentences, you can either say "didn't use to" or "used not to". We form question sentences with "used to" according to the rules of the past simple.
|Positive||I/you/he/she/it/we/they used to (do something)||I used to play the violin.|
|Negative||didn't use to or used not to||I didn't use to eat meat. I used not to eat meat.|
|Question||Did ... use to (do something)?||Did your parents use to watch TV a lot?|
Don't confuse used to with the set expression to be used to something/doing something. "To be used to" refers to the present and means "to be accustomed to something".
Compare these examples
I'm used to hard work. It's not unusual for me now.
I used to work very hard at my first job. I didn't work that hard after that.
I'm not used to eating with chopsticks. It's unusual, I don't have that skill.
I used to eat irregularly when I was a student. Now I'm not a student anymore and I eat regularly.