What is the difference between used to like and liked?

What is the difference if I say...

When I was 4 years old, I had one pink dress. My cousins used to like it (my dress) very much.


When I was 4 years old, I had one pink dress. My cousins liked it (my dress) very much.

  • 1
    In place of one dress, we normally use a dress. Except if you need to emphasis or specifically express the quantity.
    – Pro ingles
    Jul 7 '14 at 4:52
  • 1
    In that sentence, if you chose to say "used to like", it would be like you were hinting to others that your cousins don't like that dress of yours anymore. On the other hand, "liked" doesn't have that effect. Also note that unless you state otherwise in your context, the used to like and liked would be read as stative verbs there. Jul 7 '14 at 6:14
  • used to like it -> it often implies that they don't like it anymore.
  • liked it: -> no implication: maybe they still like it.

It depends on the context or else both quite mean the same. But first, let's clear the definition of used to -

used to - (takes an infinitive or implied infinitive) used as an auxiliary to express habitual or accustomed actions, states, etc, taking place in the past but not continuing into the present.

and liked is a simple word, the past tense of *like.

Let me think of an example to clarify it.

I had a pink dress which I wore on my cousin's wedding ceremony. She liked it very much. = It could be for that one time occasion. She liked the dress and that's it!

On the other hand,

I had a pink dress. My cousin used to like it very much. = Whenever/every time she would meet me, she'd recall that dress. It's not a one time 'liking'.

Also, consider what others said and the dictionary mentions - if your cousin used to 'like' it, she does not like it anymore.


In these contexts both are very similar and could mean that they still do like it, or they don't. It's not so defined here. The greater relevance is inside using either of these forms.

Used to like refers to a repetition of action in the past - here they saw the dress on various occasions and perhaps, wore the dress as well.

Liked is more matter of fact in the past - maybe they only saw the dress once!

Hope this helps!


'Used to like' means they stopped liking it for some reason. 'Liked' has no such connotation. An example would be the Guns and Roses lyric: 'I used to love her, But I had to kill her...'

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