Someone quitted smoking sometime ago, yet there is still a possibility that he may start smoking again. In this case I know that I cannot say "He used to smoke 2 years ago." because that would certainly mean he is never ever going to smoke again. I remember the case that my teacher was explaining it years ago, I remember that 'used to' cannot be used, but I can't remember which tense I should be using.

  • He hasn't smoked for two years.
    – J.R.
    Nov 15, 2017 at 16:29
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    It sounds to me like: 'He hasn't smoked for two years but now he is smoking again', am I wrong ?
    – user65066
    Nov 15, 2017 at 16:38
  • He hadn't smoked for years and then he started again. --- He hasn't smoked for two years. --- He died of cancer but hasn't ever smoked. --- _(also see my Answer below)
    – ashleedawg
    Nov 15, 2017 at 16:44
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    @Red - I think you're wrong. Perhaps if I said, "He didn't smoke for two years," that could imply that he picked up the habit again after a two-year hiatus.
    – J.R.
    Nov 15, 2017 at 16:44
  • What @J.R. said (and then some! :). Imho you're completely mistaken in supposing that used to has any inherent implications of will never do again. Nov 15, 2017 at 16:48

1 Answer 1


✘ `Quitted" is not a word and is never used..

✓ He quit smoking 2 years ago.

✘ He used to smoke 2 years ago.

✘ He use to smoke 2 years ago.

✓ He was a smoker 2 years ago.

✓ Bob quit smoking 2 years ago.

None of these imply that he will never start smoking again.

*used to* and use to can be confusing. They are very common phrases, are often mixed up with each other, and can mean many different things.

  • Use to is normally followed by a verb.

  • Used to normally refers to the past. (Hence the ed at the end.)

These are all correct:

  • I used to smoke. ☜ I smoked in the past.

  • I use to be a smoker. ☜ I smoked in the past.

  • I am used to smoking. ☜ I know how to do it.

  • I'm used to my tools. ☜ I am familiar with them. I've had them for a long time.

  • Gloves are used to keep your hands warm. ☜ The purpose of gloves is warmth.

  • He was used to cook and clean. ☜ He was "taken advantage of".

Here are some tips and even an online quiz to see if you understand a little better now. :)

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    What @Red fx said. It's not common (especially today), but the full subscription-only OED entry for quit includes Inflections: Past tense and past participle quit, quitted. Nov 15, 2017 at 16:46
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    @ashleedawg: To be honest, I personally would be unlikely to use quitted in any context today. But in those (relatively rare) contexts where it means relinquish, let go of, such as the most recent citation in OED (The capturing king must complete its move and be quitted before any of the captured pieces is removed), I'd definietely prefer that version over quit. But my point was simply that is not a word is a bit of an overstatement. Nov 15, 2017 at 17:18
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    @Andrew: Professional linguists (incl. John Lawler, both here and on ELU) will tell you that nobody really knows how to "conjugate" be used to. There no consensus on how to write something like When you were a child, did you use / used to like school dinners? (and no clues to be found in the spoken version, since in practice they sound identical). Nov 15, 2017 at 17:23
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    @FumbleFingers -- I would assume the basic rules of "correct" English are changing at accelerated speed since texting and emailing (and comments on forums) have become commonplace, and I suppose all that matters is that we get our point across.
    – ashleedawg
    Nov 15, 2017 at 17:31
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    @ashleedawg: I think the entire concept of "correct use of English" has undergone immense upheaval in my lifetime. The boffins got more or less nowhere for decades with getting computers to understand natural language, all the time they were trying to explicitly encode grammar/syntax "rules" with the help of grammarians and linguists. Once they gave up that approach and just let neural nets figure out all that stuff for themselves, things have advanced at a dizzying pace. Nov 15, 2017 at 17:44

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