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 '15 at 10:28
  • @RuchirM its "to hurt" or "used to". i dont know which one is right. – Karanam Vishnu Vardhan Apr 20 '15 at 11:52
  • A dictionary clearly defines used to in this sense as a modal verb. – Damkerng T. Apr 20 '15 at 12:32
  • why double question mark every time ?? – Sнаđошƒаӽ Apr 20 '15 at 16:18

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.

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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.

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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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