used to, didn’t use to – summary chart

used to, didn’t use to – past habits and states

used to


Past habits

We use used to for past habits or things that happened repeatedly in the past, but they don’t happen any more.

  • I used to play chess every day, but now I don’t play very often.
  • When the economy was better, we used to eat out every week.


Past states

We use used to with non-action verbs (be, have, etc.) for past states: things that were true in the past, but they are not true any more.

  • She used to be very shy when she was a child.
  • I used to like her music, but now I hate it.


didn’t use to, did you use to?

We use did/didn’t + use to for negatives and questions.

  • He didn’t use to travel a lot.
  • Did he use to live here?’ ‘Yes, he did.’

We can also use never for negatives

  • We never used to argue.


Past simple vs used to


Past simple + always, usually, often, etc.

We can also use the past simple tense + frequency adverbs for past habits.

  • I always met her at the bar down the street. (= I used to meet …)
  • I usually had a big salad for dinner. (= I used to have …)


Past simple (NOT used to)

But we use the past simple (NOT used to) for actions that happened once or when we mention when they happened.

  • Last week I met her at the bar down the street. (NOT I used to meet …)
  • I had a big salad for dinner last Sunday. (NOT I used to have …)


usually or used to?

Used to is only used in the past. For present habits, we must use the present simple tense with usually or normally.

  • I usually get up very early at weekends. (NOT I use to get up …)
  • We don’t usually play on Sunday. (NOT We don’t use to play)