Can we say 'I didn't use to like it when a friend used to visit without calling me first' to talk about something that happened often in the past and the speaker didn't use to like it?

When I was at university I didn't use to like it when my friends used to talk loudly to each other during a movie but now I don't mind.

Is it a correct sentence?

Or are there any other ways of saying it?

  • 1
    I think either I didn't use to like it when my friends talked or I didn't like it when my friends used to talk would be preferable to saying use twice. Dec 26, 2020 at 9:44

1 Answer 1


Your sentences are correct, although opinions vary about whether you should write didn't use to or didn't used to. See here for more information, and for a recommendation to avoid this form if possible. One way to do this is to use the more formal used not to.

In your sentence, it is also possible to eliminate the problem by using simple past for the main clause, and using the modal verb in the subordinate clause to indicate habit.

When I was at university, I didn't like it when my friends used to talk loudly to each other during a movie, but now I don't mind.

You could also do it the other way round, with used to only in the main clause, but then you don't eliminate that tricky didn't used to.

  • But the negative is 'I didn't use to.... ' right? 'When I was a child I didn't use to like tomatoes.' (the example is from Essential English Grammar by Raymond Murphy) Could you please explain "your sentences are correct, apart from the spelling of the modal verb, which should be used to."? I think in my question I used 'used to'. And the positive is 'I used to...' I used to read a lot of books but I don't read much these days.'
    – user98400
    Dec 26, 2020 at 7:47
  • You are correct - see here, though not all native speakers are aware of this. Use to in the sense of be in the habit of is now only used in the past tense. Dec 26, 2020 at 9:40
  • Opinions vary about this: i have edited my question and provided a link to a question specifically about didn't use to versus didn't used to.
    – JavaLatte
    Dec 26, 2020 at 14:08
  • In Practical English Usage by Michael Swan I found this: When questions and negatives are written, they often have did...used instead of did...use. Many people consider this incorrect. 1. What did people use(d) to do in the evenings before TV? 2. I didn't use(d) to like opera, but now I do.
    – user98400
    Dec 26, 2020 at 18:18
  • May I suggest that we stick to comments specifically about the OP's question here? If you have further comments about whether it should be didn't used to or didn't use to or used not to, please direct them to the question specifically about that issue. ell.stackexchange.com/questions/100674/…
    – JavaLatte
    Dec 26, 2020 at 23:23

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