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    #1

    grammar

    Which ones are better
    1-"Did he use to come here?"
    OR
    "Used he to come here?
    2-"He did not use to come here"
    OR
    "He used not to come here?

  1. lauralie2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: grammar

    1a-Did he use to come here?
    1b-Used he to come here?
    2a-He did not use to come here.
    2b-He used not to come here?

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    #3

    Re: grammar

    In both 1 and to the first sentence is correct.

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: grammar

    We've had this discussion on another thread, but unfortunately I can't find it.

    Used he to is rare these days, but is considered the correct form by older prescriptivists. I find that I still use it.

    Did he use to is generally considered correct today.

    Did he used to is incorrect, but I have seen it several times in print, even in more serious newspapers. This is perhaps because in speech this incorrect form is pronounced in exactly the same way as the correct form. As the interrogative form of 'used to' is not common, people have confused the sounds and spellings.

    It's similar with the negative:
    He used not to is fairly rare, but considered the correct form by some.
    He didn't use to is generally considered correct.
    He didn't used to
    is incorrect, but you'll see it.

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    #5

    Re: grammar

    Quirk says this:
    'Used to' is a marginal modal. Its status is intermediate on the gradient running between auxiliary verbs and main verbs.

    Used to denotes a habit or a state that existed in the past, and is therefore semantically not so much a modal auxiliary as an auxiliary of tense and aspect. In formal terms, however, it fits the marginal modal category.

    It always takes the to-infinitive and only occurs in the past tense.
    Used to occurs both as an operator and with DO-support. In the latter case the spellings 'use to' and 'used to' both occur, reflecting the speakers' uncertainty of the status of this verb: an uncertainty, that is, as to whether it is to be treated as an invariable form, like a modal auxiliary; or as a form with an infinitive,
    like a full verb.

    In the negative, the operator construction is preferred by many in BrE:

    He usen't to smoke.
    He used not to smoke.

    These are preferred in BrE and AmE:

    He didn't use to smoke.
    He didn't used to smoke.

    The construction did . . . use to is preferred to other constructions in both AmE and BrE. The spelling did. . . used to, however, is often regarded as nonstandard. The interrogative operator construction, for example this:
    Used he to smoke?
    is rare even in BrE. Tag questions also normally have DO-support.

    A perfective form of used to, had used to, is occasionally attested.

    There is a tendency for speakers to avoid the problem of negating 'used to' by employing the negative adverb never: I never used to watch television.

  4. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: grammar

    Quote Originally Posted by corum View Post
    Quirk says this:
    These are preferred in BrE and AmE:

    He didn't use to smoke.
    He didn't used to smoke.
    I find that shocking!

    Quote Originally Posted by corum View Post
    The construction did . . . use to is preferred to other constructions in both AmE and BrE.

    The spelling did. . . used to, however, is often regarded as nonstandard.
    That is more in line with my expectations.

    I admit, I used to mess this up a lot because I type what I hear in my head, and "used to" sounds like "use to" but I've always had it corrected by others when I did.
    Last edited by Barb_D; 01-Dec-2010 at 00:01.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #7

    Re: grammar

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    I admit, I used to mess this up a lot because I type what I hear in my head, and "used to" sounds like "use to" but I've always had it corrected by others when I did.
    And you are a professional writer who is 'a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English'.

    That is not intended as a snide remark. My point in making it is that if you usedn't/didn't use(d) to get it right, it is not really shocking that so many otherwise reasonably proficient speakers get it wrong.

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    #8

    Re: grammar

    I am not shocked that people make the mistake. I am shocked that a respected book lists what I consider to be an error as preferred.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #9

    Re: grammar

    Perhaps a brief summary of possible standard forms might be in order at this point:

    He used to V (Br & AmE)
    He didn't use to V (Br & AmE)
    He used not to V (formal Br & AmE)
    He usedn't to V (archaic BrE)
    Did he use to V? (Br & AmE)
    Did he not use to V? (Formal Br & AmE)
    Didn't he use to V? (Br & AmE)
    Usedn't he to V? (archaic BrE)

    For ease for reference, the most generally usable forms are shown in bold type and the least advisable in italics.

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    #10

    Re: grammar

    I am not sure that Quirk is completely right to say that didn't used is preferred in BrE; it exists, but I think its status is more questionable than that. But then again, who am I to disagree....

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