American English

Definition of used to modal verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary


used to

 modal verb
modal verb
, NAmE//ˈyustu//
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 used to say that something happened continuously or frequently during a period in the past I used to live in London. We used to go sailing on the lake in the summer. I didn't use to like him much when we were in school. You used to see a lot of her, didn't you? Grammarmodal verbsThe modal verbs are can, could, may, might, must, ought to, shall, should, will, and would. Dare, need, have to, and used to also share some of the features of modal verbs.Modal verbs have only one form. They have no past or present participles and do not add -s to the 3rd person singular form:He can speak three languages. She will try and visit tomorrow.Modal verbs are followed by the infinitive of another verb without to. The exceptions are ought to and used to:You must find a job. You ought to stop smoking. I used to smoke, but I quit two years ago.Questions are formed without do/does in the present or did in the past:Can I invite Mary? Should I have invited Mary?Negative sentences are formed with not or the short form -n’t and do not use do/does or did:You shouldn't invite Mary. The error will not have affected our results.You will find more help with how to use modal verbs at the dictionary entries for each verb.
Which Word?used to / be used to Do not confuse used to do something with be used to something. You use used to do something to talk about something that happened regularly or was the case in the past, but is not now:I used to smoke, but I gave up a couple of years ago. You use be used to something/to doing something to talk about something that you are familiar with so that it no longer seems new or strange to you:We’re used to the noise from the traffic now. I’m used to getting up early.You can also use get used to something:Don’t worry—you’ll soon get used to his sense of humor. I didn’t think I could ever get used to living in a big city after living in the country. Grammarused toExcept in negatives and questions, the correct form is used to:I used to go there every Saturday. I use to go there every Saturday.To form questions, use did:Did she use to have long hair?Note that the correct spelling is use to, not “used to.”The negative form is usually didn’t use to, but this is informal and is not usually used in writing.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: used to