I am curious to know if I am writing this sentence grammatically correctly. I was thinking that using the same verb "use" two times in this sentence is grammatically incorrect.

I used to use this pen.


I used this pen earlier.

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    I want to know if this sentence is grammatically correct.
    – gaurav kumar
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 7:06
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    "I used to use this pen when I was learning italic handwriting at school." (I habitually used it at some period in the past.) Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 9:52
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    There's nothing grammatically incorrect about using the word use twice in one sentence. Especially when they mean different things, like they do here. "I used to (verb)" means I did (verb) as a habit. What was the verb I did as a habit? Use something.
    – stangdon
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 12:42
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    @FabiosaysReinstateMonica "used to" is often fused as "yoozta" or "yooztu"
    – Barmar
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 17:26
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    @Barmar: I often see non-native speakers getting confused by "the same" word being used more than once in an utterance with different meanings, but I've never heard anyone suggest it's "poor style" (in either "literature", or any other text, come to that). Context nearly always means that native Anglophhones have no problem parsing and understanding the text, and often they don't even notice repetitions that cause problems for nns. Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 18:21

2 Answers 2


Both sentences are correct.

I used to use this pen.

This sentence communicates that using a particular pen was a habit you no longer indulge in for whatever reason unknown to the reader.

We use "used to + root form" to indicate habits of the past that are no longer a part of our current pattern of behavior.

I used this pen earlier.

This sentence communicates that a particular pen's utility was exploited at a concluded point in time, now the past.

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    Could you have written the last sentence any more verbose, "this sentence says that you used the pen at some time in the past"
    – WendyG
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 10:55
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    All those words for the second "definition", and you didn't mention the very powerful implication of earlier = recently, which is very different to the first example (that strongly implies some time ago, NOT recently). To my mind, this is perhaps the main reason the two sentences have different meanings. Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 13:05
  • @Alexander Jorgensen Note that the aspectual verb is just "used". The "to" is part of the verb that complements it: "I used [to use this pen]" (not "I used to [use this pen]")
    – BillJ
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 13:10
  • Note that the intent of the sentences may depend on which word you emphasize with intonation. "I used to use this pen" emphasizes that it was a past habit. "I used to use this pen." distinguishes it from other things you now do with the pen ("now I just chew on it.") And "I used to use this pen" distinguishes this pen from some other pen.
    – Barmar
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 17:31
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    @FumbleFingers But in point of fact use does have a direct relationship to utility in terms of meaning. With regards to that particular sentence being deemed verbose, it should not be assumed that the construction of my sentence was influenced by affectation, as my choice of words was intentional. I was trying to express an idea without more words than needed, particularly given that I was trying to be clear. Regardless, we are good, and I appreciate your remarks, be sure. Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 11:01

So in the your sentence, the meaning of used is not like using comething. The meaning of used is that you were previously doing whatever and now you don't.

I used to do this, but now I don't.

So when you say

I used to use my pen

You are saying that you were previously using your pen but don't continue to do so currnently.

The difference between:

I used to use this pen

I used this pen earlier

is that the first is more like a habit and you used your pen frequently in the past. If you used a pen once or twice, you would sat I used this pen earlier.

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    There's more to it than that--"used to use" means not just that you used it in the past, but that you used it frequently in the past. I wouldn't say I used to use something if I had only ever used it once or twice.
    – Hearth
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 16:47
  • Thank you, I didn't think of that. I just added it.
    – Shanmukha
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 19:59

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