Explanations » A2 Grammar Explanations » Used to, didn’t use to – past habits and states

Used to, didn’t use to – Grammar chart

Grammar chart explaining 'Used to' and 'Didn’t use to' for expressing past habits and states, contrasted with 'Usually' for present habits, with form and example sentences.

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Used to

Past habits

We use used to to talk about past habits or things that happened repeatedly in the past but 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 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 used to meet her at the bar down the street. blank
  • Last week, I met her at the bar down the streetblank
  • I used to have a big salad for dinner last Sundayblank
  • I had a big salad for dinner last Sundayblank

Usually or used to?

Used to is only used in the past. To talk about present habits, we should use the present simple tense with usually or normally.

  • I use get up very early at weekends. blank
  • I usually get up very early at weekends. blank
  • We don’t use to play on Sunday. blank
  • We don’t usually play on Sunday. blank