Used to expresses discontinued past habits. It highlights the fact that the action is no longer done in the present.
- Peter used to ride a bike.
- 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.
- Peter would ride a bike.
- I would tell my kids stories before going to bed.
- When I was a child, I would play video games.