used to do

I used to work.

We use used to do to talk about the past. It is not a tense but it is like a tense. It is a special structure. We use the structure used to do for the past only.

Do not confuse used to do with the expression be used to. They have different meanings.

Structure of used to do

The structure of used to do is:

subject + main verb
+ to-infinitive

Look at the structure again with positive, negative and question sentences:

  subject auxiliary
not main verb
+ I     used to like him.
- I did n't use to work.
? Did you   use to drink?
Used or use?
  • when there is no did in the sentence, we say used to (with d)
  • when there is did in the sentence, we say use to (without d)

Use of used to do

We use the used to do structure to talk about:

  • an activity that we did regularly in the past (like a habit)
  • a situation that was true in the past
past present future
I used to smoke.

Look at these examples.

past present
She used to work in a shop. Now she works in a bank.
He used to watch a lot of TV. Now he doesn't watch much TV.
They used to be married. Now they are divorced.
There used to be a cinema here. Now there is a supermarket here.
I didn't use to go swimming. Now I go swimming.
Did you use to smoke?  

Mini Quiz

1. If we say someone used to smoke, it means they _______ smoke.

no longer
will always
a) still b) no longer c) will always

2. "I'm overweight now, but I _______ much thinner." Which is correct?

used to
used to do
used to be
a) used to b) used to do c) used to be

3. "Harry _______ drink whiskey, but he does now." Which is correct?

didn't use to
didn't used to
often used to
a) didn't use to b) didn't used to c) often used to

Your score is:

Correct answers: