Used to

Used to shows that:

  • a particular thing always happened or was true in the past.
  • But it no longer happens or is no longer true now:

Forms of used to

Here are the interrogative, affirmative and negative forms of used to

  • Did you use to exercise regularly?
  • Yes, I used to go jogging nearly everyday.
  • No, I didn't use to exercise on a regular basis.


  • Ivan used to live in Madrid.
  • She used to exercise every morning, but since she had that terrible accident she doesn't exercise anymore.
  • Why don't you come and see me like you used to?

Getting used to

Get used shows that something is in the process of becoming normal.


  • He doesn't like that small town, but he'll get used to it.
  • She found the heels too high, but she got used to them.
  • Since the divorce, she has become very sad. But I think she'll get used to her new life.

Would, could, should, might, must

Would (past form of will)

Often used in auxiliary functions with rather to express preference:

  • I would rather go shopping today.
  • We’d rather say something than stay quiet.

Used to express a wish or desire:

  • I would like to have one more pencil.

Used to express contingency or possibility:

  • If I were you, I would be so happy.

Used to express routine or habitual things:

  • Normally, we would work until 6 p.m.

Could (past form of can)

Describes an ability that someone had in the past:

  • I could swim when I was young.
  • You could see the boat sinking.
  • They could tell he was nervous.

Often used in auxiliary functions to express permission politely:

  • Could I take this jacket with me?
  • You could borrow my umbrella.
  • Could you please let me pass you?
  • Could I get you more water?

Used to express possibility:

  • All of them could ride in the van.
  • You could always stay at our house.
  • Could it be true?
  • This plan could really work out.

Should (past form of shall)

Often used in auxiliary functions to express an opinion, suggestion, preference, or idea:

  • You should rest at home today.
  • I should take a bus this time.
  • He should be more thoughtful in the decision-making process.

Used to express that you wish something had happened but it didn’t or couldn’t (should + have + past participle):

  • You should have seen it. It was really beautiful.
  • I should have completed it earlier to meet the deadline.
  • We should have visited the place on the way.

Used to ask for someone’s opinion:

  • What should we do now?
  • Should we continue our meeting?
  • Should we go this way?
  • Where should we go this summer?

Used to say something expected or correct:

  • There should be an old city hall building here.
  • Everybody should arrive by 6 p.m.
  • We should be there this evening.

Might (past form of may)

Used to suggest a smaller possibility than may does (actually, might is more common than may in American English):

  • He might have finished it.
  • I might go see a doctor.
  • I might not come this time.
  • It might be right.
  • You might have lost it.
  • The store might have been closed today.


Used to express something formally required or necessary:

  • I must complete the project by this week.
  • The government must provide health care for everybody.
  • Everyone must save the natural resources of the earth.
  • The building must have a fire alarm.
  • You must answer my question right now.

Used to show that something is very likely:

  • He must be a genius.
  • You must be joking!
  • There must be an accident.
  • She must be very tired.

Simple Fact

  • I did tell you about Joe's party. You most not have been listening.

Past with Used to + infinitive

We use this expression to talk about habits or repeated actions in the past which we don't do in the present. We also use it to talk about states in the past which are no longer true. For example:

  • I used to have long hair (but now I have short hair).
  • He used to smoke (but now he doesn't smoke).
  • They used to live in India (but now they live in Germany).

Watch out! With the negative and the question it's 'use' and not 'used':

  • Did you use to be a teacher?
  • Did he use to study French?
  • She didn't use to like chocolate, but she does now.
  • I didn't use to want to have a nice house.

Note! With this 'used to' there is no verb 'be'. We CAN'T say 'I am used to have long hair'.

Modals with certain or passive

1. Pancakes can be madeon a stove. (possibility)

2. Bikes may be ridden on this bike path. (permission is given)

3. People must be warnedthat there are crocodiles in the area.

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