Thursday, July 19, 2007

How to Use "Used to"

Teaching ESL students how to talk about the past doesn't only include teaching them the past tenses, but also how to use "used to." When talking about the past this expression is used to talk about things that were true in the past, but are no longer true. (You may notice that I used "used to" in the previous sentence. In this sentence, "used to" is not being used to talk about the past. As you can see, this can be confusing to ESL and EFL learners.)

Not only can "used to" be used to talk about something in the past that is no longer true, but it is also used to talk about something that happened regularly in the past, but now no longer happens.

Here are some examples of the two uses:

I used to live in Los Angeles.

They used to be married.

Bill Clinton used to be the president of the U.S.

I used to drink coffee.

They used to exercise at the YMCA.

She used to watch TV every day.

See Teaching ESL to Adults for more ESL teaching tips.


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