Sophie is working closer to home this week. She’s in London and she has a surprise for Oliver and Daisy.

We use used to + verb for talking about states or actions that were true or happened in the past, but are not true or do not happen now.

Can you give me some examples?

Yes, of course. 

London’s nothing like it used to be!
She used to go away on really long trips.

OK. So now she doesn’t go away on really long trips?

Exactly. Used to is always for talking about actions or states in the past that are not true now.

The record shop I always used to visit is now a really cool café. (I don’t visit the place now.)

Why can’t you use the past simple?

Well, you can, of course. But we use used to to emphasise that the state or action is not true now or does not happen now.

What about the negative?

We use do in the past + not + the infinitive, use to + verb. The question is formed in a similar way.

He didn’t use to wear nice clothes and recently he’s been looking quite cool.
So what else did you use to go to London for?

That’s quite a long construction – three verbs!

Yes, but used to doesn’t change – it’s always in the past simple.

Always in the past simple? So you can’t use it in the present?

No, it’s a strange verb. We only use it in the past.

I think I used to use it in the present too.

Oh dear. You won’t any more, will you?

No, I didn’t use to know the rules, but now I do.


Total votes: 386
Language level: 


How have you changed, compared to when you were little? What activities did you use to do that you’ve stopped doing now?


Youjiro's picture
Youjiro 2 February, 2019 - 13:41

When I was little I used to play video game especially play station.It was attractive game for every children.But now I don't play any more.I also used to shy whenever my mum next to me.Mum leave next to me.I talk a lot with friend.Nowadays I talk a lot .It doesn't matter who is surrounded me.

1 user has voted.
cutekibry's picture
cutekibry 14 April, 2017 - 14:24

I used to be shy, but after becoming a middle school student, I become very active...Maybe my classmates affect me.

76 users have voted.
Tylin's picture
Tylin 20 March, 2017 - 00:35

I used to go to school on foot when I was nine years old but now I have my own bicycle which I have saved my money from work for 2 years.

59 users have voted.
Ken's picture
Ken 10 March, 2017 - 01:34

I used to be shy whenever I spoke with teachers at school and my parents' visitors to my house. I used to play outside, which got me out of it. I'm still shy actually. I've changed a bit, I learned how to hide my shyness. People never seem to be aware of my effort...

64 users have voted.
cherrygirl's picture
cherrygirl 9 March, 2017 - 12:01

I used to be shy and ashamed when I was about 10yo, but now I'm a really "cool person" and "sole of company" as they say..
I eat well and do a lot of sports, and I feel fine

57 users have voted.
livia03's picture
livia03 22 February, 2017 - 17:27

When i was little, i used to play with Barbie, Lego, but know i do sports! And i used to do dance, but know i do waterpolo!
I grew up so much...

58 users have voted.
Mowww's picture
Mowww 17 January, 2017 - 18:58

I used to go to school with my sister and my mother. I found it very embarrassing, because all of my friends went alone to school. Fortunately, it's not the case today. ;)

71 users have voted.
Mabdelaziz's picture
Mabdelaziz 31 October, 2016 - 10:03

Hi Guys,
Have a good day.
Could you please give me some examples of how we could use the past simple instead of used to.
Thank you in advance for your assistance.

94 users have voted.
Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
Jonathan - Coor... 1 November, 2016 - 05:00

Hi Mabdelaziz. Ok, let's look at some examples.

  1. I used to play with Lego. (used to)
  2. played with Lego. (past simple)
  3. I played with Lego when I was a child. (past simple)


The essential meaning of these three sentences is similar. But:

  • Sentence 1 emphasises that it was all in the past, and you have stopped playing with Lego. You don't do that any more in the present. 
  • Sentence 3 also emphasises that you have stopped playing with Lego, but by using a phrase ("when I was younger").
  • Sentence 2 doesn't emphasise that you have stopped. You may or may not have stopped - the meaning is not specific. If you only see that sentence without any context, it could mean that you played with Lego earlier today and you still regularly play with Lego. 


Does that help to understand it?

Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

107 users have voted.
Mabdelaziz's picture
Mabdelaziz 3 November, 2016 - 07:43

Hi Jonathan,
Thank you so much for your explanation.
It is really easy to understand with the examples .
Appreciate your swift response .

88 users have voted.
leksa's picture
leksa 21 September, 2016 - 21:57

I think it's funny that when I was younger I used to want to be a French teacher in a foreign country and now, I want to be an English teacher in France.

102 users have voted.
Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
Jonathan - Coor... 22 September, 2016 - 04:35

Hi leksa. That is an interesting change. Good luck with your language studies :) 
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

97 users have voted.
vanvienhuynh's picture
vanvienhuynh 17 May, 2016 - 17:22

When I was a children, I used to match to do fire, so I was injured. This is a celebrate which i never forget.

108 users have voted.
princess2001's picture
princess2001 19 January, 2016 - 14:33

I'm going to tell you how I've changed compared to when I was little. When I was a child I used to dream of running a shop of biscuits, toffees, candies and lolly pops etc. and used to get surprised over why the shopkeepers didn't eat the delicious things in the shop themselves, and how they could stop themselves from eat them up? In fact, I didn't use to hate any food and same is the case with me now. I used to have a lot of free time when I was a child while we keep busy for most of the time now. In the childhood, we used to play different types of games whose English names are not known to me, but now we hardly find any time for a walk even. we used to write on wooden plates in the school and now we prefer to type on computer than writing with a pen on a paper. Life has changed a lot. then we used to be care-free but now we are surrounded by worries about our future. I think It's enough for today because recollections from childhood may make us upset. we shouldn't think more about it rather we should concentrate on our present day challenges to prepare ourselves for a bright future. you'll get surprised over what the talk has started about and where I took it. anyway, enjoy the sweet memories from your past. Have a nice time, you all !

120 users have voted.
ilvaii's picture
ilvaii 13 January, 2016 - 17:04

I used to eat beans once,until I threw them up ,because I was really sick. Since then I've never tried them again.Also when I was little I didn't use to eat okra,but now I am totally in love with that food. It is strange how much our tastes change as the years pass by.

109 users have voted.