Как работает конструкция Used to (do)

Как работает конструкция Used to (do)

В английском языке грамматическая конструкция «used to» — крайне полезный инструмент для того, чтобы кратко и понятно рассказать о том, что вы часто делали в прошлом. но теперь этого больше не делаете.

Этот речевой оборот имеет форму только прошедшего времени и ни в каких других временах никогда не используется.

На русский язык такая конструкция  может переводиться с применением слов «прежде», «раньше», «когда-то давно». «раньше обычно» и т.п.

A. Study this example situation:

A few years ago: Dennis smoked.

Today: Dennis stopped smoking two years ago. He doesn’t smoke any more.

But he used to smoke. He used to smoke 40 cigarettes a day.

He used to smoke’ = he smoked regularly for some time in the past, but he doesn’t smoke now. He was a smoker, but now he isn’t.

B. ‘Something used to happen’ = something happened regularly in the past but no longer happens

  • I used to play tennis a lot but I don’t play very often now.
  • Diane used to travel a lot. These days she doesn’t go away so often.
  • ‘Do you go to the cinema very often?’ ‘Not now, but I used to.’ (= I used to go_)

We also use used to_ for something that was true but is not true any more:

  • This building is now a furniture shop. It used to be a cinema.
  • I used to think he was unfriendly but now I realise he’s a very nice person.
  • I’ve started drinking coffee recently. I never used to like it before.
  • Janet used to have very long hair when she was a child.

C. ‘I used to do something’ is past. There is no present form. You cannot say ‘I use to do’. To talk about the present, use the present simple (I do).


past he used to smoke       we used to live        there used to be

present he smokes               we live                    there is

  • We used to live in a small village but now we live in London.
  • There used to be four cinemas in the town. Now there is only one.

D. The normal question form is did (you) use to_?:

  • Did you use to eat a lot of sweets when you were a child?

The negative form is didn’t use to_ . (used not to_ is also possible)

  • I didn’t use to like him. (or I used not to like him.)

E. Compare I used to do and I was doing:

  • I used to watch TV a lot. (= I watched TV regularly in the past, but I no longer do this)
  • I was watching TV when the phone rang. (= I was in the middle of watching TV)

F. Do not confuse I used to do and I am used to doing. The structures and meanings are different:

  • I used to live alone. (= I lived alone in the past but I no longer live alone)
  • I am used to living alone. (= I live alone and I don’t find it strange or new because I’ve been living alone for some time)



1 Complete these sentences with use(d) to_ + a suitable verb.

  1. Dennis gave up smoking two years ago. He __used to smoke    40 cigarettes a day.
  2. Liz _________________________ a motorbike, but last year she sold it and bought a car.
  3. We came to live in Manchester a few years ago. We ________________________ in Nottingham.
  4. I rarely eat ice cream now but I_________________________ it when I was a child.
  5. Jim _________________________ my best friend but we aren’t friends any longer.
  6. It only takes me about 40 minutes to get to work since the new road was opened. It _________________________ more than an hour.
  7. There _________________________ a hotel opposite the station but it closed a long time ago.
  8. When you lived in London,_________________________ to the theatre very often?


2 Brian changed his lifestyle. He stopped doing some things and started doing other things:

studying hard smoking
He stopped going to bed early He started: going out in the evening
running three miles every morning spending a lot of money

Write sentences about Brian with used to and didn’t use to.

  1. He .used to. study hard 4______________________________________
  2. Hedidn’t .use to smoke 5______________________________________
  3. ___________________________     6   ______________________________________


18.3 Compare what Carol said five years ago and what she says today:

I travel a lot. My dog died two years ago.
I play the piano. I read a newspaper every day now.
I’m very lazy. I haven’t been to a party for ages
I don’t like cheese. I haven’t played the piano for years.
I’ve got a dog. I eat lots of cheese now.
I’m a hotel receptionist. I work very hard these days.
I’ve got lots of friends. I don’t know many people these days.
I never read newspapers. I work in a bookshop now.
I don’t drink tea. I don’t go away much these days.
I go to a lot of parties. Tea’s great! I like it now.


Now write sentences about how Carol has changed. Use used to / didn’t use to / never used to in the first part of your sentence.

  1. She.used to travel a lot                   but she doesn’t go away much these days
  2. She used ____________________    but______________________________________
  3. ___________________________     but______________________________________
  4. ___________________________     but______________________________________
  5. ___________________________      but_______________________________________
  6. ___________________________      but ______________________________________
  7. ____________________________    but ______________________________________
  8. ____________________________    but ______________________________________
  9. ___________________________      but ________________________________________
  10. ___________________________      but ________________________________________
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