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Did(n't) use(d) to

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Did(n't) use(d) to

Postby Audiendus » Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:58 am

Consider the following sentences:

1. She likes opera, although she didn't use(d) to.
2. I did use(d) to go to church, but I don't now.
3. Didn't you use(d) to live opposite me?

Would you include the "d" in the above sentences or not? With the "d", they are ungrammatical; without it, the verb "use" would be pronounced anomalously with an unvoiced "s". I would omit the "d".

If I were writing formally, I would put "she used not to" in (1), and leave out the "did" in (2). I can't think of any sensible alternative for (3), however.
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Postby Slava » Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:08 pm

I think the "d" comes up only because of the "to" following it.

I wouldn't use a "d" in any of these sentences, and the did in 2 is just plain wrong to me.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:35 pm

I agree with Slava, but would add that the d is still there, although elided into the t. I've never heard the s omitted, however. Often the words are combined into useta. I can see did in sentence 2 if you want to emphasize it as contrast to the present.
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Postby Audiendus » Sat Dec 17, 2011 5:16 pm

Perry Lassiter wrote:I've never heard the s omitted, however.

When I mentioned an "unvoiced" s, I meant pronounced as "s" rather than "z", not omitted.

Perry Lassiter wrote:I can see did in sentence 2 if you want to emphasize it as contrast to the present.

Yes, that's right.

I think most educated English speakers would agree that it is wrong to write the "d" in the above examples. However, a Google search reveals 8640 hits for "didn't you used to", and only 3380 for "didn't you use to". Interesting.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:19 pm

Well, used is either past or past participle, while use feels present tense. So didn't calls for the past -ed.
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Postby bnjtokyo » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:40 am

The on-line version of American Heritage Dictionary (available through the word look up feature of this website) says

VERB:
intr.
(ys, yst)
Used in the past tense followed by to in order to indicate a former state, habitual practice, or custom: Mail service used to be faster.

The usage note in my hardbound copy adds
"The following examples illustrate 'use' as an auxiliary verb in positive, negative and interrogative constructions: 'He used to go there.' 'He used not to go there' (or 'did not use to go'). 'Did' (or 'didn't) he use to go?'"

Based on the AHD discussion, the 'correct' version of your examples should be

1. She likes opera, although she didn't use to.
2. I did use to go to church, but I don't now.
3. Didn't you use to live opposite me?

In 2. the more common form would be "I used to go to church . . . ." and, Slava, in Audiendus' version, the "did" is for emphasis. For example, we chance to meet at the Sistine Chapel, and you say
"You didn't use to go to church" and I reply "I did use to go to church, but I don't now. I'm only here for Michelangelo"

Finally, Fowler says " 'He didn't use to' should be regarded rather as an archaism than as the vulgarism, like 'He didn't ought to' . . . it is generally thought to be in England, thought not in U.S."

To which I can only say "Hmmmmm"
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