You used to have muscles.

You can use it to me.

Sometimes, "used to" means "often", sometimes use+to just means "use". How to diff those two situations?

  • 4
    Your second sentence is grammatically incorrect - I have no idea what it is supposed to mean. – Daniel Roseman Jun 15 '11 at 8:00

First, "You used to have muscles" means that whoever is being addressed had muscles previously, but no longer has them. This is also seen in :

You used to have a blue car. It's red now.

You can distinguish this from use + to, simply by the fact that in "used to", the verb "use" is in the past tense i.e. "used". Also, use + to usually has a noun in between use and to.

So, you would know that this sentences:

You can use it to cook with/ You used to cook.

The first one was use + to, and the second has "used to "

There is a case in which there would be difficulty in distinguishing "used to" from "use + to" :

The stick can be used to mix the paint.

In this case, the way to distinguish the two, is that "used to", unlike "use + to", has the "used" as the verb i.e. You used to be strong, it used to be better, etc. Where as "use + to" usually has the "to" as part of an infinitive (The stick can be used to mix the paint).

  • 'used to' always be used in past tense? – lovespring Jun 15 '11 at 7:52
  • Yep. Always meant to be in the past tense, because it denotes that it was a characteristic that was previously had by. – Thursagen Jun 15 '11 at 7:56

"used to" does not mean "often". It only means that something "was" a certain way and no longer "is" that same way.

You used to have long hair. Now you have a crew cut.

Please explain what a sentence like "* You can use it to me" is supposed to mean. This is not correct English.

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