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  • Usually and Used To – What is the Difference in English?

    One pair of words that we hear students having problems with in our English classes are Used To and Usually.

    Look at the examples below to see if you know when to use them.

    I don’t (usually/used to) go to work on the weekend.

    Do you (usually/used to) work on Monday?

    I (usually/used to) walk to work when I lived downtown.

    I didn’t (usually/used to) like broccoli.

    Watch the video to see how you do, then try the exercises below.

    1. I (used to/usually) drink coffee in the mornings when I was in school.
    2. I (used to/usually) drink coffee every morning.
    3. He (used to/usually) be a journalist.
    4. Now he (used to/usually) writes fiction.
    5. I am (used to/usually) staying up late at night.

    Ok that’s it! You can write your answers in comments and we will reply. You can also use comments to ask questions.

    Want to try another quiz on used to and usually? Click here.

  • 13 Responses to “Usually and Used To – What is the Difference in English?”

    October 18, 2012 at 5:33 pm, Clemens said:

    I used to drink coffee in the mornings when I was in school.I usually drink coffee every morning.He usually be a journalist.Now he usually writes fiction.I am usually staying up late at night.

    October 18, 2012 at 8:43 pm, LOIEnglish said:

    Clemens….You made two mistakes. Number 3 and Number 5. Number 3 is: ‘He used to be a journalist.’ This is about the past. When we talk about our profession in the present tense we don’t say usually. For example: I am a teacher. He is a journalist. Usually indicates something that is frequent but not constant. Our profession is constant while we are working in the profession. So, even when I’m sleeping at night, I’m still a teacher.

    Number 5 is a bit of a trick question. In this case the correct answer is: ‘I am used to staying up late at night.’ The meaning isn’t about the past it is about the present but it signifies that it is something we are accustomed to. Notice the construction: to be + used to + verb ING. We wouldn’t use usually in the present continuous form (to be + verbING) because we use the present continuous form to talk about something that is happening at the moment. For example: I am staying up late tonight! I usually stay up late on Saturdays. I used to stay up late every night. I am used to staying up late.

    I hope this helps!

    October 19, 2012 at 2:02 am, Adham Bel Karim said:

    i usually drink coffee every morning.

    October 19, 2012 at 6:49 am, LOIEnglish said:

    Very good Adham! You should try the other questions too!

    December 10, 2012 at 6:08 pm, Lewis said:

    Great Video!!!!! Thanks

    September 19, 2013 at 12:38 am, Pauline Guédon said:

    Hello,
    Isn’t there a mistake in the sentences “Did you used to … ? ” and “I didn’t used to…”. Shouldn’t we use “Did you use to …” and “I didn’t use to …” instead ?
    Thanks for your answer…

    September 20, 2013 at 8:04 am, LOIEnglish said:

    Pauline,

    I had to do a bit of research to get a clear answer about this. It is fairly divided about the ‘ed’ when used with ‘did or didn’t’. My most trusted grammatical sources however, say that you are correct and there is a mistake in the video. We shouldn’t add the ‘ed’ when using did or didn’t in a sentence. In spoken English there is no clear pronunciation difference thus making it a written mistake that is so common to native English speakers it is becoming more and more accepted. Just googling it I found several news headlines that use the ‘ed’ ending with didn’t. I’ve read that ‘used to’ is becoming a modal verb over time and that soon either spelling will be correct. Although, at this time I would write it without the ‘ed’ with ‘did’ or ‘didn’t.’ Thanks for the great question! It was a tough one. I’m going to record the video over correcting the mistake!

    January 15, 2014 at 10:47 pm, Joan said:

    Great tip. Let’s see if I got it:

    1. I don’t usually go to work on the weekend.

    2. Do you usually work on Monday?

    3. I used to walk to work when I lived downtown.

    4. I didn’t use to like broccoli.

    March 16, 2014 at 1:32 am, Kristi Black said:

    please can you explain articles-a/an,the.no articles? please

    March 16, 2014 at 1:35 am, Kristi Black said:

    please can you explain articles- a/an, the, no articles?

    November 10, 2014 at 11:15 am, LOIEnglish said:

    I had to do a bit of research to get a clear answer about this. It is fairly divided about the ‘ed’ when used with ‘did or didn’t’. My most trusted grammatical sources however, say that you are correct and there is a mistake in the video. We shouldn’t add the ‘ed’ when using did or didn’t in a sentence. In spoken English there is no clear pronunciation difference thus making it a written mistake that is so common to native English speakers it is becoming more and more accepted. Just googling it I found several news headlines that use the ‘ed’ ending with didn’t. I’ve read that ‘used to’ is becoming a modal verb over time and that soon either spelling will be correct. Although, at this time I would write it without the ‘ed’ with ‘did’ or ‘didn’t.’ Thanks for the great question! It was a tough one. I’m going to record the video over correcting the mistake!

    December 02, 2018 at 7:45 pm, Deren Saraçoğlu said:

    Hello. First of all, thank you for the information you shared. But I`d like to emphasize one thing on the video and the exercises below the video that the negative form of “used to” is: “I didn’t use to” or “He/She/It didn’t use to”. But instead, I saw that you had written them with the “-ed” in the end. I think you might like to make the corrections. Thank you again, have a great day.

    Comments are closed.