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  1. nouamaneer's Avatar
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    #1

    Used to or Simple past

    Dear all,

    Which one of these is correct?

    1 Did you use to invent things when you were young?
    2 Did you invent things when you were young?

    Thanks for your help.

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Used to or Simple past

    They are both fine.

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    #3

    Re: Used to or Simple past

    2nd is ok

  3. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Used to or Simple past

    Quote Originally Posted by engr.yasir ali bhatti View Post
    2nd is ok
    As fivejedjon said, both are fine.

  4. nouamaneer's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Used to or Simple past

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    They are both fine.
    Yeah, both are grammatically well-formed. Yet, there is a nuance in meaning. Especially in what the speaker possess of information on the interviewee.

    In the used to example: the speaker either knows that the interviewee invented things and no more now and vice versa.

    But in the 2nd case of the simple past: the speaker doesn't know anything on the speaaker's inventing anything at all. It's just a question with no prior background to it.

    Am I right?

  5. nouamaneer's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Used to or Simple past

    and another reference says that in question the simple past is prefered instead of the Used to form. Basically, I believe because of that shared background knowledge I talked about earlier.

    Not to forget to mention that Used to adds a contrast to the presnt time that the simple past doesn't refer to.

    Example:

    I used to smoke when I was young. (but now i don't)

    I smoked when I was young. (Nothing is emphasised in this example. just a statement of a past habit)
    Last edited by nouamaneer; 11-Jun-2011 at 20:00.

  6. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Used to or Simple past

    Quote Originally Posted by nouamaneer View Post
    and another reference says that in question the simple past is prefered instead of the Used to form. Basically, I believe because of that shared background knowledge I talked about earlier.

    Not to forget to mention that Used to adds a contrast to the presnt time that the simple past doesn't refer to.

    Example:

    I used to smoke when I was young. (but now I don't)

    I smoked when I was young. (Nothing is emphasised in this example. just a statement of a past habit)
    Alternative:
    "I used to smoke when I was young" (I stopped, then I started again when I was older)
    "I smoked when I was young" (I don't now because I've realised how stupid it is)

  7. 5jj's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Used to or Simple past

    Quote Originally Posted by nouamaneer View Post
    I used to smoke when I was young. (but now i don't)

    I smoked when I was young. (Nothing is emphasised in this example. just a statement of a past habit)
    You are correct. However, bhasahabi's alternatives are also possible.

    This reinforces a point that we make often in these forums: Context is important. Many things that we say and write can be interpreted in different ways if we look at them in isolation. In context, the meaniing is usually clear.

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