Exercise 2

Complete the following sentences about how things used to be 50 years ago. Fill is the gaps with the correct form of used to and the words in brackets.

1Not too many people (live) in the cities.

2Salaries (be) much lower.

3People (not buy) so much stuff.

4People (not get) divorced.

5People (not eat) so much processed food; their diet was healthier.

6People (have) more children and at a younger age.

7People (not travel) so often, or they just didn't travel at all.

8People (write) letters because they didn't have computers.

9People (not live) together before getting married.

10Families (be) closer and more connected than they are today.



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)