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Surely, surely "Didn't this table use to be painted?"? (emphasis) Of course, the pronunciation is the same. CDB

Uh oh. The jangling alarm of old, hotly contested dispute. Any chance you'd be satisfied with just reading the archives on this?

I'm tempted to just run off and say, I'm going to be gone for a week. But I see I am actually the one who wrote the example "Didn't this table used to be painted" and I should either stand by it or retract it.

Lessee... We say "Didn't you have to..." and "Didn't you keep..." and so on, not "had" and "kept". So yep, I erred in writing "used" and it should have been "use".
However, in my defense, can I say that this is one of those VERY FEW cases (contrary to the tireless Google-bashers) where the majority of hits goes against "good" grammar. When I checked some time back, the count I found was:
"didn't use to" 1,672 "didn't used to" 3,849 ratio 0.4:1

I just ran the numbers again; they're bigger, but still 0.4:1. The handwriting's on the wall.

Best Donna Richoux
(snip various)
Didn't this table used to be painted? Yes, it was painted. With thick black enamel. We stripped off the enamel. ... and vice-versa. That's leaving aside the whole issue of how much the intent of the speaker matters in recorded speech.

You make some good points but I'm running out of time to discuss this properly. I'm just going to say that I think there are several issues involved primarily the differences among (a) ambiguity (not being able to tell which meaning is intended) and (b) actually being able to carry more than one meaning or function at a time, and (c) the flaws of any categorization system (it goes fuzzy at the boundaries).

See you in a week or two.

Best Donna Richoux
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
(Email Removed) (Donna Richoux) wrote,

You scared me.
"The table used to be painted, though, didn't it?"

I think I tend not to put "used to" in writing anywhere. The Cockney in me thinks it ain't proper.
"Didn't this table need to be painted?".
Is the most convincing example for me.
Adrian.
"This table needed to be painted, though, didn't it?"
(Email Removed) (Donna Richoux) wrote,

You scared me.
The following is correct, though.
"The table used to be painted, though, didn't it?"

I think I tend not to put "use to" (or "used to") in writing anywhere. The Cockney in me thinks it ain't proper. And not being a writer I don't write no dialogue, I don't.
"Didn't this table need to be painted?".
Is the most convincing example to demonstrate to me that "use" should be used instead of "used". Not meaning to imply that that means the same thing. (smiley-free zone, right?)
Adrian.
"This table needed to be painted, though, didn't it?"
What on earth does "use to" mean?
I know what "have" and "keep" mean, but this verb "use to"... Could you demonstrate a use in the present tense for us, please, Donna?

Okay, I'm kidding. I don't want to read the Pepys quote again. But "use to" hasn't been an English verb for some time and I cannot imagine that you would write "I haven't used to see him for ages" or "I will not use to go there", nor what you would mean by either exactly.
Zen
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
(snip)
Lessee... We say "Didn't you have to..." and "Didn't you ... they're bigger, but still 0.4:1. The handwriting's on the wall.

What on earth does "use to" mean? I know what "have" and "keep" mean, but this verb "use to"... Could ... see him for ages" or "I will not use to go there", nor what you would mean by either exactly.

No, I don't use "use" in the archaic senses. I was never aware of them until discussions here a few years ago.
I can show you how the endings work, or are supposed to. What it "means" is another question.
I used to keep rabbits.
Didn't you use to keep snakes?
Yes, I used to keep snakes, long ago.
Same as:
I damaged my car.
Didn't you damage your motorcycle, too?
Yes, I damaged my motorcycle as well.
What "use to" means is the same as what people are now tending to spell as "used to". These mean the same, are pronounced the same, and are merely spelled differently:
Didn't you use to keep snakes?
Didn't you used to keep snakes?
But, we still don't say (yet):
* Didn't you damaged your motorcycle?
* Did you wrote to cancel the reservation?
* You didn't walked to work.
The auxiliary "do/did" takes the infinitive, not the past participle.

But, you know, verbs (like can and may) that become employed as daily auxiliaries changed their grammar, and so to the extent that "use to/used to" has become an auxiliary to indicate a certain verb sense, I would expect it develop unusual twists. Personally, I'd like a new spelling or contraction for that altogether:
Didn't you useta go there?
I useta keep snakes.
As opposed to:
This tool is used to plant bulbs.
However, I see that "used to" outnumbers "useta" by an approximate ratio of 7000:l. Even allowing for some of them being the used-for exception, "useta" has a long ways to go.
"Gonna" will probably achieve respectability first. "Going to"/gonna is a mere 3:1. That's higher than I expected. 15 million to 5 million. I wonder why it's so high... All those copies of song lyrics on the Web?

Best Donna Richoux
If you could run the numbers so as to get counts of UK usage and US usage separately, I would hope you'd find "didn't use to" way ahead in the US. I say that because I have the impression that while a British usage guide might condone "didn't used to", an American guide would be less likely to.

Too bad there's not a way to Google separately on UK and US usage.
Uh oh. The jangling alarm of old, hotly contested dispute. ... they're bigger, but still 0.4:1. The handwriting's on the wall.

If you could run the numbers so as to get counts of UK usage and US usage separately, I would ... impression that while a British usage guide might condone "didn't used to", an American guide would be less likely to.

The only British usage guide I have to hand other than a couple of cobweb-covered Fowler and Gowers tomes Michael Swan's excellent Practical English Usage (OUP) says this (among other useful stuff for EFL learners) on p. 615:
"Used to*^can have the forms either of an auxiliary verb (questions and negatives without *do*) or of an ordinary verb (with *do*). The *do-forms are more informal. (Note the special pronunciation of use* and *used in this structure: not /ju:z/, /ju:zd/, but /ju:s/, /ju:st/.
Did you use to play cricket at school? (Or: Used you to play...?)
I didn't use to like opera, but now I'm getting
interested. (Or: I used not to like...)"
I think I'd remember if I'd ever seen "did(n't) + used" in a well-edited British publication.
Conclusion: It's bipondially Dead Wrong.

Ross Howard
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Sorry for my near-flame there, but these days "that's all needs to know" tends to be inflammatory, doesn't it?

Yes, can be. Here, though, it was intended in a practical sense.
"I remain amused by AUE". Is fairly analogous. But I do now wonder about trying to claim that that means:

Trying to claim? But it does, to me.
"I was and am amused by AUE". which is passive.

Remain is one of those "become" words, whose category-name escapes me for a moment, but is often used in AUE. But there's nothing unusual about a sentiment being expressible in either a passive or an active sentence (as you know, of course no flame, please!).

Anyhow, I hope the discussion has helped you to clarify.

Mike.
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