used to


Alternative formsEdit


  • IPA(key): /juːs(t).tu/, /juːs(t).tə/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -uːstu, -uːstə
  • Homophone: use to
  • Not homophonous with used in the sense of "made use of" (as in "the key was used to open the door"), which is IPA(key): /juːzd/

Etymology 1Edit

From used, past participle of use (to perform habitually) + to.


used to (not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic, with noun phrase) Accustomed to, tolerant or accepting of.
    I am used to cleaning up other people’s mess.  I became used to his ways.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 5, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      “Well,” I says, “I cal'late a body could get used to Tophet if he stayed there long enough.” ¶ She flared up; the least mite of a slam at Doctor Wool was enough to set her going.
    • 1922, Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
      He was shivering a little, for he had always been used to sleeping in a proper bed, and by this time his coat had worn so thin and threadbare from hugging that it was no longer any protection to him.

Etymology 2Edit

From used, past of use (perform habitually) + to (infinitive marker).


used to

  1. (temporal location) Formerly and habitually or repeatedly, but possibly no longer, did.
    I used to be undecided, but now I’m not so sure.  I used to like that band and I still do.I used to know a guy from the UK who pronounced "mother" without the "r".It used to be me, sitting in that chair.There used to be open fields here. Now it's a shopping mall.
    • 1879, R[ichard] J[efferies], chapter 1, in The Amateur Poacher, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., [], OCLC 752825175:
      They burned the old gun that used to stand in the dark corner up in the garret, close to the stuffed fox that always grinned so fiercely. Perhaps the reason why he seemed in such a ghastly rage was that he did not come by his death fairly. Otherwise his pelt would not have been so perfect. And why else was he put away up there out of sight?—and so magnificent a brush as he had too.
    • 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter I, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., OCLC 222716698, page 2:
      He used to drop into my chambers once in a while to smoke, and was first-rate company. When I gave a dinner there was generally a cover laid for him. I liked the man for his own sake, and even had he promised to turn out a celebrity it would have had no weight with me.
    • 1980, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson (lyrics), Agnetha Fältskog (lead vocalist), ABBA, The Winner Takes It All
      But tell me does she kiss like I used to kiss you? / Does it feel the same, when she calls your name?
    • 2002, David I. Grossvogel, Didn't You Used to Be Depardieu?.
    • 2003, G. E. Kruckeberg, Things My Daddy Used to Say.
Usage notesEdit
  • With did as an auxiliary verb (as in the negative and interrogative), use to is considered standard, especially in American English (e.g., Did you use to walk to school?; He didn't use to behave that way!; It's hard to drive without power steering; did people just use to be stronger?).[1] In other cases, such as I use to go to the fair every year, it is considered an error for this (past tense) form (used to), motivated by the two forms' near (or exact) homophony.
  • The negative may be formed as used to not or used not to (usedn't to, usen't to), did not use to (didn't use to), or did not used to, the last of which is sometimes considered an error.[2]
  • The interrogative is constructed like did [subject] use to...? (did [subject] used to is also found, but is considered an error)[2] or used [subject] to...?, varying by region and era.
  • When it is not necessary to include the following verb, in some regions it is usual to use the verb do as a stand-in (he works harder than he used to do), whereas in others it is usual to use no verb at all (he works harder than he used to).
Derived termsEdit
  A user suggests that this English entry be cleaned up, giving the reason: “Are these habitual/recurring? Please don't confuse due to different epistemics of first and other persons”.
Please see the discussion on Requests for cleanup(+) or the talk page for more information and remove this template after the problem has been dealt with.


  • used to at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • used to in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.
  1. ^ Merriam-Webster: Is It 'Used To' or 'Use To'?
  2. 2.0 2.1 Stewart Clark, Graham Pointon, The Routledge Student Guide to English Usage: A guide to academic writing for students (2016, Routledge, →ISBN), page 296: "In questions, use Did he use to go to Cardiff? rather than Did he used to go to Cardiff? This second version is clearly non-standard. The same applies to negatives: He did not use to play football is recommended usage, but He did not used to play football is non-standard. Note that the alternative He used not to play football on Sundays is correct usage, but too formal for most contexts."