Is there any difference in meaning between:

"I have smoked in the past, but I don't smoke now" and

"I used to smoke but I don't smoke now"?

  • 2
    I think you know the difference. One goes to ongoingness of the action and the other is merely in the past without specifying when.
    – Lambie
    Feb 22 at 20:17
  • 2
    What do you mean by "ongoingness of the action?" In both cases I don't smoke anymore.
    – anouk
    Feb 22 at 20:24
  • 3
    'I used to smoke' means you habitually or regularly smoked (did it on an ongoing basis); 'I have smoked' says nothing about how many times you did it. Feb 22 at 20:39
  • 3
    Here in the States, I see no difference between the two. I see both statements as indicating continuous action in the past. Over here, one doesn't say they have smoked if you smoke once or twice. Feb 22 at 20:57
  • 4
    In the UK 'I have smoked pot', could mean 'I took a puff on a joint at a party in 1972, and never again', but 'I used to smoke pot' could mean 'I don't remember much about the eighties'. I do not know to which category Bill Clinton belongs. Feb 22 at 21:29

I have smoked in the past, but I don't smoke now - it suggests that I have smoked on a few occasions in the past but I don't smoke now

I used to smoke but I don't smoke now - It leans more towards the meaning that I used to smoke on a regular basis but I don't smoke now.Just a slight difference


From my understanding they contradict each other in terms of telling the reader when and how many.

They are very much alike and seen to have the same meaning but I break things down like this:

As if answering a question "Do you smoke?"

I used to smoke. Now I do not. add words to see if it is correct. I used to smoke[A few here and there]. Now I do not.

As if you are answering a question. "Are you a smoker?" I have smoked in the past. Now I do not. I have smoked [A few here and there] in the past. Now I do not.

In both cases, you do not smoke anymore but... One is saying you smoked often, One is saying you didn't smoke a specific amount

  • Are you a native speaker, Monica? I don't understand your answer, What do you mean by: "they contradict eachother"? Because your definitions are exactly the same: "I used to smoke a few here and there, now I do not" and "I have smoked a few here and there, now I do not". What is the difference?
    – anouk
    Feb 24 at 7:57

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