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Alien Enigma
05-14-2006, 10:04 AM
Someone asked me today, "What is the proper way to write used to/use to?"

I thought about it for awhile, and it's a phrase that people use all the time. I ended up telling her I didn't know the right way to use it. Does anyone know?


example: "I used to go bowling." OR "I use to go bowling."


Jeff

Scribhneoir
05-14-2006, 10:45 AM
It's "I used to go bowling."

Alien Enigma
05-14-2006, 10:54 AM
Thank you, that's what I was thinking. It never hurts to ask though.


Jeff

Puma
05-18-2006, 03:45 PM
Use is present tense, the action is happening now. Used is past tense, the action happened some time ago. So I used to go bowling is correct if the action is over and done with.

absitinvidia
05-23-2006, 07:10 PM
what is the correct negative in the past tense (recognizing this is more for informal than formal writing)?

You didn't used to be able to do something, or You didn't use to be able to do something?

The first sounds correct to me, but since you use the infinitive and not the past tense in such a construction, is the second actually the correct one? "Used to" is a phrase that I use almost exclusively in the past tense, and so I think my tendency is to treat it as a fixed expression rather than as the verb that it is.

CaroGirl
05-23-2006, 07:16 PM
what is the correct negative in the past tense (recognizing this is more for informal than formal writing)?

You didn't used to be able to do something, or You didn't use to be able to do something?
The first one. "You didn't used to be able..." is correct. If you do want to be formal and super correct, you could say, "You used not to be able to do something." All of these, however, seem somewhat awkward. When faced with this, you could try to reword the sentence.

MadScientistMatt
05-23-2006, 07:21 PM
Example that uses both: "I used to use my own personalized bowling ball to go bowling."

The only way that "use to" makes sense is if there is an object between use and to - you used a ____ to accomplish ____.

Absitinvidia, the first form is correct; "use" requires a direct object outside of "used to," and the second form doesn't use an object. But I would avoid negative "used to" constructions, as it's hard to write one without sounding awkward. Consider "I wasn't able to do something" in your example, or substituting "I used to avoid that place" instead of "I didn't used to go to that place."

There's a Southern "used to" construction you'll sometimes see, "Used to could." If you have characters using Southern dialect, I could see saying something like "I used to couldn't _____."

reph
05-23-2006, 10:24 PM
what is the correct negative in the past tense (recognizing this is more for informal than formal writing)?

You didn't used to be able to do something, or You didn't use to be able to do something?"Didn't used to" is grammatically incorrect, as it has two past-tense markers. (We don't write "John didn't liked to ride a horse.") "Didn't use to" is correct but not current. It sounds strained and archaic. In works from a few hundred years ago, you occasionally see lines like "Anne did not use to drink tea before midday," but not now.

Alternatives are better.

You never could do something until...
You were unable to do something...
You couldn't do something at that time
She didn't wear hats then
She didn't habitually wear hats
She wasn't in the habit of wearing hats
He hadn't taken up playing tennis
etc., etc., etc.

Bartholomew
05-23-2006, 10:56 PM
Well, if you did some grammatical acrobatics, I suppose it could work.

"Horses, you use to ride." But it dun' soun' very good.