>> Topic summary: Negative forms of used to: Didn't use to/ didn't used to/ used not to/ usedn't to/ usen't to/ never used to

Status
Not open for further replies.

panjandrum

Lapsed Moderator
English-Ireland (top end)
Selected extracts from previous threads about negative forms for used to.

A number of possibilities have been suggested:
- didn’t use to ...
- didn’t used to ...
- used not to ...
- usedn’t to ...
- usen’t to ...
- never used to ...


She <used to, didn't use to> play in a band.
She didn't used to play in a band. It sounds funny, but it's okay. However, I'd feel strange saying this in a paper.
I didn't use to. is what I see in ESL coursebooks.
Grammatically speaking, there are other negations than "She didn't use to play in a band". There are also "She never used to play in a band", and "She used not to play in a band".

But, as the Columbia Guide to Standard English points out:
didn’t use to is the negative of the idiom used to (pronounced YOOS-too or YOOS-tuh) and means “was not (were not) accustomed to” or “was not (were not) in the habit of”: I [we] didn’t use to wear jeans to school. The negative idiom has long been Standard but is still limited to the Casual and Impromptu levels.
I didn't use to, didn't used to, are marked colloquial in the OED.
They don't appear in the British National Corpus.
I didn't used to like
Michael Swan, Practical English Usage
"used not to": formal style.
"didn’t use to" and "didn't used to": informal style.

The Collins COBUILD English Dictionary
If something used not to be done or used not to be the case, it was not done in the past or was not the case in the past. The forms "did not use to" and "did not used to" are also found, especially in spoken English.

Quirk et al., A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language
"He usen’t to smoke" and "He used not to smoke" as preferred by many in British English," and "He didn’t use to smoke" and "He didn’t used to smoke" used by both British English and American English speakers.

L. B. Alexander, Longman English Grammar
"used to" may be formed without the auxiliary "do" as in "You used not to smoke." But he adds that didn’t is more commonly used to form negatives with "used to". Alexander also states that "We can avoid the problem of the negative by using ‘never….’ ‘Fred never used to be so difficult.’ "

Either the "formal" or "British" "used not to" is fine, as is the "informal" or "American" "didn’t use to" (or "didn’t used to").

It's also correct according to BBC Learning Service.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/le...rnitv285.shtml
usedn't is a very long thread consisting mostly of personal views on the acceptability of usedn’t and usen’t, but the other forms are also discussed.


Taking into account the lengthy debate and variety of opinions, it is risky to attempt a summary, but taking a broad view across the threads and the reference sources cited it seems that:
- used not to ... is considered correct, but perhaps formal;
- didn’t use to ... is accepted;
- didn’t used to ... is used, but considered incorrect by some;
- usen’t to ... is heard, but frowned upon by many;
- usedn’t to ... is frowned upon by more.


For more threads see:
didn’t use to
”didn’t used to”
usedn’t

Cross reference:
Topic summary: Used to/ would
 
Last edited:
  • Status
    Not open for further replies.
    < Previous | Next >
    Top