Used to

  • The idiomatic phrase used to (not use to) has two unrelated uses: (1) as an adjective meaning accustomed, and (2) an auxiliary verb meaning, roughly, did and implying that an action was habitual in the past and does not continue in the present.


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    In the context of used to, used is synonymous with accustomed—for example:


    The show’s amazing costumers, who are used to doing things on the fly, make the necessary adjustments to our outfits while we do a music check. [People]

    But Japanese bosses are not used to judging people by their performance. [Economist]

    Used to can also be an auxiliary verb—similar to did—indicating that a state, habit, or action took place in the past and does not continue—for example:

    Hall of Famer Billy Williams said they used to have a TV in the clubhouse when he played, but it was a little smaller. []

    Bridgwater Carnival used to be staged on the Thursday closest to 5 November but moved to a Friday in 2001. [BBC News]


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