Grammar-ease: ‘Used to’ vs ‘Use to’

Today’s topic is one that I found curious, and think you might, too.

When do you use used to and when is it use to? Both statements are used when speaking about something done in the past and both are followed by an infinitive in a sentence.

It’s amazingly simple!

UseToWhen used in a positive sentence, it’s used to; when used in a negative sentence (with didn’t), or as part of a question, it’s use to.

What do I mean by that?

Positive sentence examples:

  • The dog used to bark at every person passing by.
  • We used to go camping for two weeks every year.
  • I used to candlepin bowl every weekend.
  • He knows there used to be a convenient store on the corner.
  • She used to love living in the city.

Negative and question-form sentence examples:

  • The cat didn’t use to scratch the furniture.
  • We didn’t use to walk on the beach.
  • What beach did you use to go to?
  • I didn’t use to grow my own vegetables.
  • There didn’t use to be a donut shop on the corner.
  • What color house use to be on the corner?
  • He didn’t use to hate commuting to work.
  • Where did you use to commute from?

With “didn’t” (a ‘d’ word) or as part of a question, it’s use to (without a ‘d’); otherwise, it’s use to.

What other grammar topics would you like to see covered?

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, and technology businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

25 thoughts on “Grammar-ease: ‘Used to’ vs ‘Use to’

  1. Pingback: Grammar-ease: ‘Used to’ vs ‘Use to’ | Mysticalwriter

  2. I just wanted to let you know that I repressed this to my site, I also love your tips on writing. I find them to be very helpful. Thanks for sharing

  3. I admit I just try to avoid the phrase altogether in writing, although I might say it in conversation. In the positive form, I would say “She once loved living in the city.” In the negative, “The cat didn’t always scratch the furniture” would make a good alternative. It is an awkward construction… is there a history behind its use? Or a reason as to the negative/question vs. positive construction?

  4. Thanks for the post, I was actually just thinking about this the other day. I’m glad to know I wasn’t crazy to think there was a difference (even if it is only slight).

  5. Pingback: Grammar-ease: ‘Used to’ vs ‘Use to’ | Jorengod's Blog

  6. Pingback: Grammar-ease: ‘Used to’ vs ‘Use to’ – Mystic Musings

  7. Thanks very much for your explanation! I just can’t quite understand your next-to-last sentence no matter how many times I read it: “With “didn’t” (a ‘d’ word) or as part of a question, it’s use to (without a ‘d’); otherwise, it’s use to.” What am I missing?

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