Semi-modal verbs – used to

The last semi-modal on our list is “used to”, which you will probably be very familiar with. You have probably used “used to” to talk about habits:

As a child I used to play near the stream every day.

This was an action that happened many times in the past but no longer.

You can also use “used to” to talk about a state that was true in the past but has changed:

I never used to be so stressed before I started working at this job.

Like other modal and semi-modal verbs, “used to” only has one form, not changing to accommodate the person or people used with it. Note the -d is always there in the positive sense. It is never “use to”.

I used to live in Spain.

There are two negative forms for “used to”: “did not use to” and “used not to”. You can also contract them into “didn’t use to” and “usedn’t to”, respectively, although the last form is rare:

I used not to be able to bench press 100 kg.

You can also negate the “be able to” part instead: I used to not be able to bench press 100 kg.

I used not to like children but every since I’ve had my own, they are growing on me.

You can also negate the “like” part instead: I used to not like children…

Want to learn more about modal verbs? Here is a guide to all the semi-modal verbs here: introduction to semi-modal verbs. You can also learn more about other English language information on my Learning English page.

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