Used to

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


As you watch the video, look at the examples of used to. They are in red in the subtitles. Then read the conversation below to learn more. Finally, do the grammar exercises to check you understand, and can use, used to.


Oliver: Where’s Mum?

Daisy: I don’t know. She called earlier and said she’d call back. She wants to speak to us both.

Oliver: Did she sound happy or serious?

Daisy: Happy.

Oliver: Is she finally going out with your headteacher?

Daisy: Ha! I’m not sure, but I think they’ve been seeing each other for a while. He didn’t use to wear nice clothes, and recently he’s looking quite cool.

Oliver: I wonder if she’ll start travelling less.

Daisy: Maybe. She used to go away on really long trips and these days it’s maximum a week.

Oliver: Oh! Hi, Mum! Are you in London?

Sophie: Yes! Surprise!

Oliver: Are you writing about London?!

Sophie: Yes, I am! I’d forgotten how amazing it is … and it’s near home.

Oliver: Haha. So … do you have more reasons to stay near home these days?

Sophie: No … like what?

Daisy: Never mind.

Sophie: I just thought that I’m always abroad, but we’ve got one of the most interesting cities in the world just an hour from home and I’ve never even written about it! So here I am. I haven’t been here to visit for years. It’s nothing like it used to be! The record shop I always used to visit is now a really cool café specialising in bubble tea!

Oliver: So what else did you use to go to London for?

Sophie: For fun. For concerts and to buy new clothes … but it didn’t use to be as busy as it is now. I love what they’ve done on the South Bank. I hadn’t seen the London Eye close up before, and the Tate Modern’s an impressive building with great views of the bit that used to be the docks.

Oliver: So is it all so different?

Sophie: No, not completely. The area near the river is very different, but the West End hasn’t changed much. The theatres are still great and Piccadilly Circus looks a little different than it used to, but it’s still a meeting place and the lights are still there, but … I like the new London! So …

Daisy: Yes?

Sophie: I’ve booked hotel rooms for the three of us for this weekend, so you can get to know London a bit better.

Oliver and Daisy: Cool! Wow!

Sophie: I’ll book your train tickets now and call you back in an hour or so. OK?

Oliver and Daisy: OK! All right!

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.



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

Average: 3.8 (13 votes)
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Submitted by @hellomy on Sun, 05/26/2024 - 13:55

I used to run around the neighborhood with my friends, having a blast playing games until the sun went down. But even with all the fun, there was always this little bit of fear. Not the scary monsters kind of fear, but more like the worry about what might happen next. It made our adventures feel even more exciting, like when we snuck into the old abandoned house, heart pounding the whole time.

Submitted by Becky_GG on Wed, 09/13/2023 - 15:52

submitted by Becky_GG on Wed, 13/09/2023 - 9:38
When I was a little kid I used to think that at my 18 I was going to have my own house, nowadays I’m 19 and I still living with my parents

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Submitted by JoModerator on Thu, 09/14/2023 - 07:22

Hi Becky_GG,

Thanks for your comments on LearnEnglish Teens. This website is specially for teenagers aged 13-17 years old but it sounds like you are older than that. You are welcome to keep on using LearnEnglish Teens but if you are over 17, please do NOT post any more comments as we must keep this strictly for teenagers to interact with each other.

You're welcome to register and post comments on the British Council's LearnEnglish website. 

Best wishes,

Jo (LearnEnglish Teens team)


In reply to by Becky_GG

Submitted by Miguel_ye on Wed, 09/13/2023 - 15:49

Submitted by Miguel_ye on Wed, 13/09/2023 - 09:38
When I was a child I didn't use to be good at maths, now I'm very good at maths because because I do well in the exams.

Submitted by strawberry123_ on Mon, 07/25/2022 - 06:59

I have changed, compared to when I was little. My hair used to be shorter and I didn`t use to have bangs. I used to go to dance and theatre classes, but now I don`t. Trough I would really like to recover dance classes soon.

Submitted by July36363 on Tue, 10/11/2022 - 02:28

When I was younger, I didn't use to be very tall and it hurt to participate in various dance contests at school.

In reply to by strawberry123_

Submitted by wartu on Fri, 05/20/2022 - 11:38

I used to do Latin at school, but now I stopped with it because it is completely useless. I also used to support Chelsea, but now I support Manchester United because they are much better and chelsea is a loserteam.

Submitted by Pieter on Mon, 05/03/2021 - 07:22

As a child I used to care less about other people. it seems like it's almost prohibited to have fun as an adult. Pieter
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Submitted by Cfvdv on Mon, 04/12/2021 - 14:52

When I was a child I used to eat paper, but I don't do this anymore, because I've heard this is not healthy, and is unhygienic... And it's clear over the years you know this isn't good.

Submitted by Didik on Thu, 04/08/2021 - 15:31

When I was a child I used to play with toys with my mother, I also used to paint, draw, and used to do paitings with my brothers.

Submitted by Arivelde on Tue, 04/06/2021 - 16:07

When I was younger, a child, I used to be much more agitated than now, I could play a entire day, without getting lazy or tired, I didn't have obligations or duties, I could sleep a whole night whithout interuptions. None of that I can do now; now I have to do things that I dont like, because it's the right thing to do. But what I've learned of all of that is responsibility, autonomy and respect, three very inportant characteristics for my adult life.

Submitted by XxSaijanxX on Mon, 03/08/2021 - 23:48

When I was child, I used to play with my toys and I used to sleep a lot, I didn't have a lot of task. When I was in the secundary school, I used to play soccer with my friends and with my classmates in the school soccer team. Now, I didn't play anymore and now I have responsabilities and task for the school and for my personal life.

Submitted by Maquiles on Thu, 03/04/2021 - 15:04

When I was a Child I used to play with my friends in my grandma's house. We used to ride bikes at the park close to her house and we used to play football and other wonderful sports. After that we used to eat sandwiches and drink sodas from a little shop on the street. Another example of what I used to do as a child it's I used to eat a lot at my old school and never had lunch at home. And that's some examples of what I do as a young boy. Thanks all of you for reading.

Submitted by vanillasnat on Mon, 03/01/2021 - 06:29

When I was a child I used to be pretty shy. As well I used to play a lot with dolls or with my neighbors. Sometimes we used to play hide and seek, haunted or frozen, that was a lot of fun. At my house in the evenings I used to watch tv shows like Wizards of Waverly Place, The Suite Life on Deck and Hannah Montana on Disney Channel. These programs used to be my favorites. But now I watching some teen series on Netflix. As well in my childhood I used to ride a bike every day, I liked so much.

Submitted by Jilk on Tue, 02/23/2021 - 07:26

I used to not like chicken and eggs, but over time that changed. Also when I was a child I used to watch pirate movies, now I just watch Anime, I used to watch Doraemon but now that is boring. When I was a child I used to play outside every day but now I don't doing that. When I was child I used to play with toys but now I just play with my PC all the week. Also I used to watch TV all day but now I watch more YouTube. When I was a child I used to drink milk but now I drink soy milk
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Submitted by Kostantinus on Sat, 01/30/2021 - 10:50

When I was younger I used to sculpt plasticine figures of animals, paint, make handicrafts, make a shelter with blankets ans sheets in my home, play drums, piano, guitar, accordion, climb trees.

Submitted by Malika on Wed, 01/13/2021 - 07:19

Thanks for the helpful information about I'll try to remember everything

Submitted by hermione123 on Fri, 01/01/2021 - 11:03

I used to have singing practice every week, and painting on walls with marker. but now i don't
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Submitted by Andrii on Fri, 11/06/2020 - 17:56

I used to watch cartoons and play toys and I didn't use to play computer games.

Submitted by hermione123 on Sun, 01/10/2021 - 13:57

So, you don't watch any cartoon now? I still watch Disney Junior or Nickelodeon jr. untill now:) I also play toys like Lego

In reply to by Andrii

Submitted by Stasiia_Ukr on Thu, 10/22/2020 - 09:38

When I was a child I used to do rollerblading, but now I did't.
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Submitted by Giovannichoi on Mon, 07/06/2020 - 02:56

I used to go swimming lessons when I was young, but I don't anymore. Also, I'd been practicing soccer and rugby (it was a tag rugby), but I finished these days.

Submitted by coffee26 on Tue, 06/16/2020 - 21:36

I used to paint a lot when i was little. Now I don't do that anymore. Alana

Submitted by matB on Tue, 06/16/2020 - 15:34

When I was younger, I used to play tennis. Now I don't play it anymore. Mathis

Submitted by Pelle on Fri, 06/12/2020 - 09:14

When I was younger, I used to play tag with my friends on the playground. We don't do that anymore. -Rob

Submitted by S_D on Fri, 06/12/2020 - 08:32

When I was little I used to do gymnastics, now I do athletics for a couple of years. - Silke

Submitted by usedto on Fri, 06/12/2020 - 08:29

When I was little, I used to dress me up at home for fun. Now that I've grown up, I don't do it anymore. - Babette

Submitted by An_The on Thu, 06/11/2020 - 08:34

I haven't change a lot since I was younger, but I used to be a lot from home because of all the activities I did after school. Now I'm a lot more at home. Theo

Submitted by Emilie_ on Wed, 06/10/2020 - 16:20

I used to read a lot, but now I don't have enough time for that. -Emilie

Submitted by Luk_ on Wed, 06/10/2020 - 16:07

I used to go to school with my bike. - Luk

Submitted by Han on Wed, 06/10/2020 - 10:15

When I was younger, I used to bike with my parents and my younger brother very often. Nowadays, I hardly ever bike with them. -Hanna

Submitted by Roos123 on Wed, 06/10/2020 - 09:42

When I was younger, I used to swim every friday and I used to play vollybal, now I don't do either of them anymore. Roos

Submitted by MatisseSijbers on Wed, 06/10/2020 - 08:59

When I was younger, I used to play football (soccer). I also used to go running, but now i don't. - Matisse

Submitted by chickenwing on Tue, 06/09/2020 - 16:34

As a kid I used to have a lot of hobbies, but now I only have two hobbies left. -Finne

Submitted by maurelien on Tue, 06/09/2020 - 14:24

When I was little, I used to play a lot with my neighbours in our gardens. Now that we've grown up, we don't see each other much any more. - Anne-Laure

Submitted by TheLoudeOne on Tue, 06/09/2020 - 13:39

I used to play a lot of soccer all the time. Now that I've grown up, I don't play it anymore. Adam

Submitted by ynwa73 on Tue, 06/09/2020 - 12:53

I used to make origami animals when I was younger. Mateo

Submitted by Morgane_T on Tue, 06/09/2020 - 12:47

When I was a kid, I used to figure skate every week on Sundays. Now I go to the skating rink once in a while. - Morgane

Submitted by jeananna on Mon, 06/08/2020 - 13:28

As a child I used to draw and paint a lot, but now I don't anymore. I also used to go to an academy on wednesdays. - Jeanne

Submitted by Cookie7 on Fri, 06/05/2020 - 14:02

When I was in primary school, my grandmother used to visit often and we used to go to the toy store where I could choose a toy. Nowadays she no longer visits, because my grandfather has grown old so my grandmother has to stay home to take care of him. Missei

Submitted by RVJ on Fri, 06/05/2020 - 13:13

When I was little, I used to play football as my hobby. Now I only do is sometimes for fun. Michiel

Submitted by maya_1234 on Fri, 06/05/2020 - 08:05

When I was little, I used to play hide and seek. Now I don't play it anymore. - Maya

Submitted by federer on Thu, 06/04/2020 - 16:21

When I was young, I used to play a lot of video games, but now I do it less. I also used to eat a lot of candy, but now i don't do it anymore.

Submitted by Drake on Thu, 06/04/2020 - 15:48

When I was younger, I used to hate eating cheese, but now I like it. I also used to play a lot of tennis, but now I play football. Pauline

Submitted by Aljo1003 on Wed, 04/29/2020 - 07:20

When I was a Child, I used to play catch an awful lot. Now, however, I don´t play catch anymore, since I´ve grown tired of the game. Also, I used to eat immense loads of candy when I was young, something that I refrain from doing now.

Submitted by scarlett2all on Tue, 04/21/2020 - 14:31

When I was a child , I used to play with dolls and eat a lot of candies. Now I don't play with dolls anymore, and I hate candies !!

Submitted by vittoriadigianno on Thu, 03/26/2020 - 12:56

when i was child i used to go out with my mum once a week but now i prefer stay at home with my cat

Submitted by caromoreira04 on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 14:17

when I was a child I used to go to the park with my mum for play with my friend but now I prefer stay at home.
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