When and how to use “used to”

The structure used to + infinitive is used to talk about past habits, jobs, or hobbies we no longer practice or which we replaced with the new ones


I used to play a lot of football when I was younger; now I go to the gym.
They used to be good friends, but now they hardly ever meet.
My grandpa used to be a mayor before he retired.


The negative form of used to is didn’t use to.


I didn’t use to drink coffee, but now I do.
My hometown didn’t use to be so polluted, but it is now.


The interrogative form is: Did you use to…?


Did you use to collect stamps when you were younger?
Did they use to walk every evening while on holiday?
Did you use to get up early when you were younger?

Note:

The structure used to + infinitive cannot be used to say frequency or duration.

I used to visit Rome many times.

I used to live in this neighbourhood for 10 years.

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Nouns which are only plural

There are three groups of nouns that we use only in the plural. We use them with plural verbs and plural pronouns:

Your glasses are dirty. Take a tissue to wipe them.

These groups of nouns are:

1) Nouns related to items consisting of two parts (glasses, scissors, jeans, trousers…)

My new trousers are so cosy.

You can talk about them in singular if you use ‘a pair of’:

This pair of scissors is very sharp.

2) Nouns ending in –S (clothes, stairs, belongings, thanks, congratulations…)

These clothes are dirty.

The stairs in their house were too narrow.

Remember that these nouns are countable as they answer the question how many, not how much.

How many belongings have you got?

3) Nouns which express groups of people or animals (police, cattle, folk, people, poultry…)

The police are in front of the building.

They use growth hormones to make cattle grow faster.

Nouns which are only singular

Most nouns in English have both singular and plural forms. However, there are some nouns that are only used in the singular form. These are:

  • Names of particular people, places, events, etc.

Peter, Johnson, Trafalgar Square, Easter, Saturday…

Although, you can use them in the plural if you think of them in a ‘countable’ way:

We never work on Saturdays.

The Johnsons are coming for lunch this evening.

  • Most uncountable nouns: water, furniture, advice, hair…

Water is cold today.

Good advice is better than rubies.

  • Some nouns ending in ‘S’: politics, Emirates, crossroads, measles, physics, maths,…

Emirates is charging for seat selection.

Politics is not my cup of tea.

How common is measles in your country?

WHO or WHOM?

Who and whom are interrogative pronouns. Many people live their lives without using WHOM at all, thinking that whom should be used in formal situations only. If you want to speak English properly, then you need to know about usage of both WHO and WHOM.

The rule is:

WHO is used in the subject position in a sentence:

Who bought you that ring?

WHOM is used in the object position:

The man whom you invited to dinner.

We also use WHOM after prepositions:

For whom the bell tolls.

To whom you want to talk?

How can you tell whether to use WHO or WHOM? It’s simple! If your pronoun can be replaced with ’he’ or ’she’, then use WHO. If it can be replaced with ’him’ or ’her’ or any other object pronoun, then use WHOM.

Who took my pen? (He/she took my pen – subject)

Whom is the book about? (About him – object)

In order to perfect your knowledge, try and do the quiz below:

WHO and WHOM QUIZ

Reciprocal Pronouns: Each Other & One Another

We use reciprocal pronouns each other and one another when two or more people are acting on each other.

Rhina and Sam saw each other yesterday.

The boys helped one another do their homework.

They talk to each other in French.

Both each other and one another refer to either persons or things.

They connected the two computers to each other.

High mountains were facing one another.

Each other used to refer to two people and one another to more than two people. However, since this distinction is disappearing in modern English and the two phrases are becoming interchangeable, we may feel a bit insecure when deciding which one to use.

Romeo and Juliet loved each other/one another.

People communicate to each other/one another over the Internet a lot today.

We can also use the possessive form of each other and one another:

Tom and Sally helped look after each other’s/one another’s children.

Prepositions of Place

Prepositions of place refer to a location of something. They answer the question ‘where’. Take a look at these prepositions of place:

Above — over or higher than

There was a mirror above his head.

Below — in a lower level

The temperature dropped to 10 degrees below zero last night.

Beside — near, at the side of

Our house was built right beside the park.

Next to — right beside, close to

The building next to ours was painted green.

(In) between — in the space that separates two places, people, or objects

The child was sitting between his parents.

In front of –– before of someone or something

Susan was waiting in front of the restaurant.

Behind — at the back of

Paul sat behind Alice.

At – next to

The students were sitting at their desks.

On – in a position above and touching it

There are some books on the shelf.

In — inside

There were two apples in a bowl.

Inside — within a space

They put a kitten inside the basket.

Outside — not inside

It is raining outside.

On top of — over, upon

There was a vase on top of the fridge.

Over – directly above

 He put his hands over his head.

Under — below

A dog hid under the bed.

Underneath — directly below

She put her bag underneath the chair.