In the sentence:

I used to hurt people.

to hurt is an infinitive. I read somewhere that infinitives are not verbs. So can used to be a verb? If not, should we treat used to as one entity which describes the past and take hurt as a verb?

  • How can you take 'to hurt' , if you want to consider 'used to' in your sentence ?
    – Rucheer M
    Apr 20, 2015 at 10:28
  • @RuchirM its "to hurt" or "used to". i dont know which one is right. Apr 20, 2015 at 11:52
  • A dictionary clearly defines used to in this sense as a modal verb. Apr 20, 2015 at 12:32
  • why double question mark every time ?? Apr 20, 2015 at 16:18

3 Answers 3


In your sentence, 'used to' is used as a modal verb. Check OALD.

As 'used to' itself show that something happened continuously or frequently in the past, hurt is a transitive verb here.

So, IMO, in your sentence 'hurt' is not an infinitive, but verb.

Hope this will help.


The main misconception here is that a verb and an infinitive are mutually exclusive. According to LDOCE definition an infinitive is:

the basic form of a verb, used with 'to' in English

(emphasis mine).

In addition to this definition, when to is omitted we get a bare infinitive.

So, in your example both used to and hurt are verbs, but in different forms.


we should treat used to as one entity which describes the past and take hurt as a verb.

Moreover, from Macmillan Dictionary:

  • Used to is usually followed by an infinitive
  • Used to only exists as a past tense. So one cannot say, 'I use to heart people'

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