Proper spelling [used to]

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Sleven7

New Member
English-USA
I was born and raised in the south. Since college I've made a great effort in using proper grammar and spelling when ever I write. I'm stumbling over a simple sentence and need help.

This is how I pronounce the sentence:

I usta do it this way

This is how I think I should be writing it

I used to do it this way

But for some reason that just does not look correct. Any suggestions
 
  • Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    I was born and raised in upstate New York.

    As far as I know, "used to" is the correct way to spell a phrase that indicates a past activity. In rapid or careless speech, or perhaps in standard Southern speech, it might be pronounced "yoo-stah."
     

    Sleven7

    New Member
    English-USA
    Thanks, for some reason it didn't look right.

    I have a friend that was an English major and she constantly corrects my usage of the word fixing. I'm fixing dinner, I'm fixing to go to town... it's a southern thang.
     

    brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    Maybe it will help you to remember that usta = "used to" by knowing that "to" is very commonly reduced in pronunciation to a short tuh or ta sound. It's the reason we pronounce "got to" as gotta.

    So if you can remember that gotta = "got to", it might help you to remember that usta = "used to".

    Of course, there's still a chance you might incorrectly think that it's actually "use to", without the past-tense "d", but (1) you can remember the past-tense "d" by remembering that used to is used for the past, and (2) you can take solace in the fact that LOTS of native speakers screw this up.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    I believe it is quite rare for used to when referring to habitual action to be pronounced with a /d/. I would say "I used to (/justə/) live in Illinois." but "This tool is used to (/juzd tu/) repair break-in damage around a door lock."

    In fact, when, in an episode of Black Adder the Third, a couple of actor characters told the prince, concerning a certain stance they were demonstrating, that "We are used to standing in this position." with used pronounced /juzd/, I took it as intentional humor on the part of the writers and actors of the episode, meant to complement the other odd speech mannerisms used by the characters.

    The spelling :cross:use to is a common error when representing the /justə/ pronunciation.
     

    Sleven7

    New Member
    English-USA
    You said it was rare, but not incorrect. By this do you mean it is poor grammar? If so, how would you phrase:

    I used to play lotto every week.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    You said it was rare, but not incorrect. By this do you mean it is poor grammar? If so, how would you phrase:

    I used to play lotto every week.
    I would say used to in this sense as /justə/, and sometimes I might even pronounce it /justu/, but I would under no circumstances pronounce it /juzd tu/.

    Used is also used as an adjective meaning "accustomed": "I am used to staying up late." Here also it is pronounced /just/.

    It is a question of pronunciation rather than grammar. While I pointed out that to me it sounds odd to use the pronunciation /juzd tu/ when speaking of a habitual past action--and also sounds odd to me when the adjective meaning "accustomed" is pronounced /juzd/--I would not go so far as to say that it is nonstandard without strong evidence. Consider, for example, that the entry for the adjective used in The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary gives the pronunciation as "\ˈyüzd, in the phrase 'used to' usually ˈyüs(t)\." The presence of the word "usually" in that note implies that some standard speakers do indeed pronounce it as /juzd/ in that phrase.
     
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