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Guys used to wear hats - 'used to' for past habits
Jul 5 14
Used to for past habits
Hi, welcome to another lesson from New English Academy. I’m your teacher, Giles Parker, and today we’re going to be focusing on used to to talk about habits and routines that are no longer true. This lesson is aimed at intermediate level learners but the language is all natural so anyone can pick up something from it.
The text is called ‘Guys used to wear hats’ and this talks about – yep, you guessed it – how people used to wear hats once upon a time, but it seems this is no longer true. But first let’s talk about the grammar, used to.
You know how the past tense talks about a finished or competed action that we also know when it happened, like I ate cereal for breakfast? Well, used to talks about past routines or past habits or past situations that were regular but that don’t happen anymore now. So,’ I used to wear short pants when I went to school (but I don’t anymore)’. Or ‘I used to work out every Saturday (but I don’t anymore)’. Used to shows the difference between the past and the present, saying that something was regular but it stopped. You can make this clearer by adding a negative phrase like ‘I don’t now’, or ‘I don’t anymore’. You can also use it to talk about states that are no longer true, like ‘I used to be fat but then I went on this great exercise program’.
To make it is pretty simple – just add used to in front of the base form of the verb like this – ‘I used to love her’. To make the negative, just put didn’t in front of used to, like ‘I didn’t used to love her’ what does this mean? It means I do now! You can also use never instead of didn’t for the same meaning, so ‘I never used to love her’.
A quick warning about spelling for negatives – the past in used to is ed, in the negative it loses the d and the past is shown in the didn’t, so negatives with didn’t lose the d. But…with never, used to keeps the d. Why is that? Because it still shows the past.
To make questions just put did in front of used to, so ‘When you were a kid, did you use to play with the other kids or stay at home?’
One interesting point (well, for saddoes like me, anyway) is that you can use would instead of used to for nearly exactly the same things except for one exception. So for example, you can say ‘I would wear shorts to school’. But the problem is that you can only use would when it is a regular, repetitive action, NOT a state. Huh??? What’s the differ