"Used to" is a lovely little word that I find myself using more and more as my beard gets grayer and grayer. As in:
- I used to be able to touch my toes.
- I didn't use to have to wake up three times a night to pee. (Which is why the guy was able to cock-a-roach my bar stool.)
- I used to have a 401-k. Now my kid has braces.
- What sports did you use to play?
- I didn't use to like mushrooms.
Now that the truly geeky information is out of the way, let's get to the still-geeky but much-more-important nuts and bolts: The two main uses of used to.
1. To show something that happened in the past, but no longer does
This is the most common usage, especially for those longer in the tooth than others. It expresses the idea that we no longer participate in that activity or can successfully accomplish the same feat.
- I used to be able to do a double-twisting front 1 1/2 from the three-meter board, but all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't drag that out of me again.
- When I was in college, I could do a double-twisting front 1 1/2 from the three-meter board.
- I used to enjoy a quiet Sunday afternoon of football watching, but then I got married. (The guys know what I'm talking about.)
- I used to be a normal football fan, but then I discovered Fantasy Football.
This is very similar to the first usage except that you add some sort of frequency, like twice a week or every summer. This expresses the idea that the frequency has decreased, but the activity still continues. (There is an obvious example about marital relations pre- and post-children, but again, this is a family blog. And it assumes that frequency still applies.) For example:
- I used to go to the gym every day after work, but now I only get there once or twice a week. (Don't mock me. For all you know, this could be true.)
(Something to ponder: I used to have a social life. Now I have a blog.)