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Can you use 'used to + base verb' if something happened in the past, but you don't know about now? I'm doing a CELTA course and I'm analyzing a sentence like this: "She used to wear nice hats." The context is a story written about a childhood teacher, and it doesn't mention whether or not the teacher still wears nice hats (understandably--how would the author know?). Everything I've looked at says that 'used to + base verb' is for things that happened in the past but definitely no longer do (or that were true but no longer are), but I haven't found any resources that mention using this form when you aren't sure if it's still happening. Can anyone provide some insight here and, ideally, direct me to a good web resource that explains this case? Thanks!
Jan 17, 2016 6:16 AM
Answers · 8
Can you show us the story? I ask because, yes, 'used to + base verb' is for things that no longer happen; however, it seems to me, that the story does not pretend to know now. That is to say, the story is talking about a specific scenario in the past. As an above poster mentioned, CCQs would follow As: "She used to wear nice hats." Fid she wear nice hats when I knew her? Yes. I's this something that happened in the past? Yes. Does it happen now? Don't know. But I can't say too much without seeing the material.
January 17, 2016
If someone were to ask you...does she were nice hats? Your answer could be.... 1. I don't know about now, brut she used to wear nice hats. 2. She used to wear nice hats. (The reader or listener would know from this sentence that you don't know currently if she does, but you knew she did in the past).
January 17, 2016
"Used to wear nice hats" is past tense imperfect. It indicates that she wore hats continuously, not just once. It does not matter what she does today.
January 17, 2016
To me 'definitely no longer' is a bit strong. Using a tense only ever gives a hint as to the current situation. If you want to be explicit, you need to be explicit. I would say that using 'used to' definitely implies that it is no longer the case, and you would not use it if you were not sure. In that case, you should just use a past tense instead - e.g. 'she wore nice hats'. But - I'm not a grammarian, or a teacher, so...
January 17, 2016
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