5 Minute Grammar Lesson – Use to or Used to?!


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Today’s weekly grammar lesson explains the correct usage – use to or used to. I attribute this common mistake to the way we pronounce words, but pronouncing and writing are two different things and what you think you hear, isn’t always true.

Grammar - use to or used to

5 Minute Grammar Lesson – Use to or Used to?!

Nine times out of ten, the correct answer is USED to. It’s in the past right?

I USED to be skinny, but then I found wine.

I USED to be funny, but then I had kids.

He USED to be able to ski, but then it got expensive.

All of these examples happened in the past tense and so we need to add -ED to make them past tense. The problem is the -ed ending sometimes sounds like a -t and sometimes sounds like a -d, so we think there’s nothing there because of the TO after the word USE. Regardless, of what it sounds like, the right usage is USED to.

HOWEVER, because this is English, there are always exceptions…

If you’re asking a question or using a negative, THEN, it may be permissible to say USE to. 

I didn’t USE to like kids, until I had my own. YES, it’s correct.

Didn’t you USE to live in Germany? YES, it’s correct also.

Note the word DIDN’T in both of those examples. If did or didn’t appears in the sentence, you USE to.

If there’s no did or didn’t use USED to.

Make sense? 😉

use to or used to WeeklyGrammar


Here are more grammar posts you may like:

Bias or Biased?

Do to or Due to?

Broke or Broken?

Who’s or WHOSE?

And if you’re looking for helpful grammar resources, here are my top picks:

Grammarly – Instantly fix over 250 types of errors with this free web-based grammar checker!

Strunk & White Elements of Style

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation 

Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation 

The Grammar Girl’s Quick & Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Check back next Sunday for another quick grammar lesson! And if you’d like to get weekly grammar tips delivered straight to your inbox, please subscribe to my once a week newsletter. I promise I won’t spam you. 🙂



About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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