Use(d) to – did(n’t) use to


We use use(d) to or did(n't) use to is when we speak about past habits or accustomed routines and practises that have changed or are no longer common now.

She used to play in a band.
She used to go to band practise twice a week. 
She used to be the best bass player in music school.

She played the bass, she went to classes and she was the best player, but not anymore.

Use(d) to - did(n't) use to are not to be confused with use to + infinitive.
Look at the following example:

What do you use to play an electric bass?
An electric bass guitar, some cables, and a speaker are used to play the bass.

Used to with ‘did’


We use didn’t use to or didn’t used to when we explain something wasn’t particularly a habit or reoccurring event.

  • She used to be a great bass player, but she didn’t use to do well  in school.
  • Except for music, she didn’t use to like any subjects and didn’t use to do her homework.
  • If she didn’t use to be so lazy, she would have become very famous.

note: although neither form is officially incorrect; didn’t used to isn’t accepted in most exam formats.

Formal negative ‘used to’

In very formal styles, we can use the negative form used not to

  • She used not to  have much interest in social activities.


The most common form of question is auxiliary did + use(d) to.

  • Did she use to have any other hobbies
  • Didn’t she use to play in that band we saw last week?

note: although neither form is officially incorrect; didn’t used to isn’t accepted in most exam formats.

Question tags

We normally add tags after used to with auxiliary did

  • She used to be very popular and talented, didn’t she
  • She didn’t use to have a twin brother, did she?

Emphatic did (informal)

We can use the emphatic auxiliary did with used to. In this case used to functions more as an intensifier or emphasiser.

  • She didn’t use to make a lot of effort at school, but she did used to be a promising artist. 
  • She didn’t use to be pay attention in class, but she did used to be very inspiring.

To get used to – to be used to

To get used to and to be used to are followed by a noun, pronoun or verb+ing, and can be used to speak about the past, present or future.

To get used to

To get used to we use to speak about the process of becoming familiar with something.

  • She changed schools and is slowly getting used to waking up earlier in the morning.
  • She’s getting used to her new teachers and trying to make new friends.
  • She can’t get used to the new rules and strict approach.

To be used to

To be used to means ‘to be familiar with’ or ‘to be accustomed to’.

  • She’s used to practising the bass every day, a few hours a day.
  • She isn’t used to the stairs she must climb at the new music school.
  • It took her a while, but now she’s used to the new teacher.

Used to and would

Used to and would are used in combination when we speak about past habits or past events, that are no longer true or occurring now. Used to in this sets the scene for the following actions described with would.

When Katy was a child, she used to be a great bass player. On stage she would blow away everyone with her talent. She would be very popular among everyone that knew her and that, I think is why life is so hard on her now…


  • Throughout the above grammar explanation you’ll find little facts about Katy’s life as a child and now.
    Now that you know when and how to use the different forms of used to can you finish the story so it still makes sense and it still is true?

Questions, doubts, still unclear?

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