‘Use to do’ in English

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

One of the constructions English learners learn quite early is “someone used to do something”. It expresses that someone did something regularly long time ago but doesn’t do it anymore in the present. For example:

I used to play the violin.
[I played the violin when I was younger, but I don't do that anymore.]

Learners often incorrectly infer that this is just the past tense of “I use to do”, which should logically mean “I regularly do”. However, such a phrase doesn’t exist. Native speakers never say “I use to do something”, however logical it may sound:

I used to play the violin. (correct expression of a past activity)
I regularly play the violin. (correct expression about the present)
I use to play the violin. (wrong)

This article was based on my guide to the most common mistakes in English, which explains many similar topics. Why don’t you check it out?

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