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04 / 03 / 2004

USED TO IN THE PRESENT: meaning and examples

Good morning everybody.

Today we look at a basic grammar point that often causes problems even for Upper Intermediate or Advanced students.

Most of you probably know how to use the verb used to in the past. We use it to talk about habitual or on-going activities or situations in the past.

Example 1
When I was a child, I used to play football with my friends almost every day.

"Playing" was done habitually in the past.

Used to is ALWAYS used in the past. So what's the equivalent of used to in the present?'s the present simple, sometimes accompanied by adverbs like usually, normally, always, etc.

Example 1(a)
Now I play football with my friends almost every day.

Example 1(a) is the equivalent of Example 1, but in the present. Example 1 is a habitual or ongoing action in the past and 1(a) is an ongoing or habitual action in the present. In other words, the verb used to does not have an equivalent form in the present.

Therefore, used to is NOT the equivalent of "soler" in Spanish, since it cannot be used in different tenses. It has no present form, no future form, etc.

Example 2
When I was a child I used to have blonde hair, but now I have brown hair.

Have a good day.