used to meaning: 2 essential uses and easy examples

Used to meaning

Used to expresses discontinued past habits. It highlights the fact that the action is no longer done in the present.

  • Used to sentences

  1. Peter used to ride a bike.
  2. I used to tell my kids stories before going to bed.

Now let’s consider the following questions about sentence 1 above:

  • Are we speaking about the present or the past? (PAST)
  • Does Peter ride a bike now? (NO)
  • Did he ride a bike in the past? (YES)
  • Did he ride it once or many times? (MANY TIMES; it was a habit)

The questions above show that we are talking about an action that happened many times in the past(it was a habit) and does not happen now anymore.

Used to also expresses repeated past states that are no longer true.

  • I used to be fat. I’m thin now.
  • We used to live in Manchester.
  • I used to have long hair.

The negative form: Didn’t use to

  • He didn’t use to play rugby.
  • We didn’t use to go to school on foot.
  • I didn’t use to cook my meals.

Used to or would?

“Would” can replace used to when it expresses an action, not a state.

  1. Peter would ride a bike.
  2. I would tell my kids stories before going to bed.
  3. When I was a child, I would play video games.


Find the uses of relative pronouns and relative adverbs in this interesting article.

Learn English with Englishdotcom.

Recent Posts