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#35805 07/18/01 09:15 PM
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This little phrase struck me as odd today, for some reason. I am wondering if anyone can tell me why we use the word "used" in sentences about former activities-- "I used to go grocery shopping twice a week" or about becoming accustomed to something-- "I'm not used to getting up so early".


#35806 07/18/01 09:29 PM
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An uneducated guess would "lead me to believe" that: as a used road has grooves worn into it, the word developed naturally out of traveling down its path, repeatedly.


#35807 07/18/01 10:03 PM
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Good one, Rapunzel.

I've wondered about that myself. I used to teach ESL and it was awfully hard to convey the grammar, not really the meaning, of "used to." I'm hard-put to think of a synonym. My only reliable reference/cognate/clue is the Portuguese "I was accustomed to..." I'm sure one of our scholars will leap into the breach, as they are used to doing.


#35808 07/18/01 10:22 PM
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use...
21. With to and inf.: To be accustomed or wont to do something.
In very frequent use from c 1400, but now only in past tense used to... and colloq. in did (not) use (or used) to


#35809 07/19/01 07:19 AM
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In slightly older English (say Jane Austen) you'll find 'use' = 'be accustomed to' more alive in the construction: 'I do not use to do this'. It is now frozen, only the past tense is used, there is a problem with the negative, and the pronunciation has changed.

I would like a convenient contraction like 'isn't' or 'gonna' or 'hafta' for the actual pronunciation, but nothing lends itself: 'ustu'/'usta' looks glaringly un-English or fails to show the sound. I believe (offhand) that it's never pronounced like the normal verb 'used' with a /zd/.

As for the negative, is it "didn't ustu" or "ust not to"? Even in my own speech I can never decide.



#35810 07/19/01 09:21 AM
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NicholasW believes (offhand) that "used to" is never pronounced like the normal verb 'used' with a /zd/.

I agree, "I used to get up late" and "I used two cans of paint" are pronounced differently, the former "used" ending with a /t/, the latter wit the /zd/ as NicholasW states.

Listening to myself, for the negative I say "used not to get up till 12" or "used to not get up till 12", both still with the /t/ ending. I'm not sure about the grammatical validity of the second but I use it.

Rod


#35811 07/19/01 12:13 PM
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To this US'n ear "used not to..." doesn't sound right. "Used to not..." sounds better despite the split infinitive but I would probably use "didn't used to...".

Regarding the member of the gonna-wanna-hafta group I have seen useta. It still has some problems with that e in there ( in the same vein I useta pronounce oncet wun-set) but, in the words of the noted philologist, "Wutcha gunna do?"


#35812 07/19/01 12:20 PM
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Whatcha gunna do is challenge the notion that "used to not" is a split infinitive.

If this unnoteworthy philologist hadn't already packed away her grammar books (should have left that for the last!) I'd look it up. But my feeling is "to" belongs to "used" and not to the infinitive that follows it.


#35813 07/19/01 12:36 PM
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As for the negative, is it "didn't ustu" or "ust not to"? Even in my own speech I can never decide.

I'm with Faldage and (probably) the rest of the Norte Americanos: used not to doesn't sound right: around here, the construction is always some form of "yoostu/yoosta," whether negative or positive. Yoostu/a is not split. I yoosta go to school, but now yoose guys are my educators.


#35814 07/19/01 12:47 PM
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Noted philologist AnnaS notes "to" belongs to "used" and not to the infinitive that follows it.

Interesting point AnnaS. Of course we all know that not all infinitives contain to. Is this a case of to being the particle of a phrasal verb? That interpretation would certainly clear up any nagging doubts as to the validity of many a construction.


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