used to or past simple

cesar 1987   Friday, September 17, 2004, 19:11 GMT
in the sentence:
I used to live in lima.

can i just say : i lived in lima

what's the difference between "used to" and "the past simple"
mjd   Friday, September 17, 2004, 19:57 GMT
Generally a statement like "I lived in Lima" would include a reference to a particular time.


1) "I lived in Lima when I was attending the university." (reference to the past; might or might not still be living in Lima....based solely on this statement, we have no way of knowing)

2) "I lived in Lima when I was a child and I still do to this day." (reference to the past and still true in the present)

'Used to' can also include a reference to a particular time, but it doesn't need one. (For example: "I used to live in Lima" is perfectly fine on its own). The reason for this is that 'used to' conveys something that no longer is. For example:

3) "I used to live in Lima when I was a kid, but when my family moved to the United States, we ended up settling in Conneticut." (Here the speaker is remembering something that used to this case, the time spent living in Lima as a child. The 'used to' shows that what he is describing is no longer the case, whereas in "I lived in Lima as a child and still do to this day" illustrates a statment both true in the past and present).
Someone   Saturday, September 18, 2004, 04:59 GMT
Another option is "I've lived in lima." "I lived in Lima." is incorrect alone.
Mxsmanic   Saturday, September 18, 2004, 05:53 GMT
"I used to" describes something that happened in the past but no longer happens today. The past simple, in contrast, simply situates something in the past; it says nothing at all about the present (i.e., it does not exclude similar actions in the present, it just asserts that the past action is not connected to the present).

If you say "I rode a bicycle at an early age," that doesn't exclude the possibility that you might still ride a bicycle today. But if you say "I used to ride at an early age," it implies not only that the bicycle-riding was in the past, but also that you no longer ride a bicycle today. These are not absolute rules but that's how the two constructions are usually perceived.
Mxsmanic   Saturday, September 18, 2004, 05:55 GMT
"I lived in Lima" is not incorrect alone, by the way.
Someone   Saturday, September 18, 2004, 08:07 GMT
It sounds very odd to me. It could be appropriate in some contexts, of course.


"Who lived in Lima?"

"I lived in Lima."

"Where did you live in 1987?"

"I lived in Lima."


"Where have you lived?"

"I lived in Lima."

What I'm saying is that you don't just go up to someone and say "I lived in Lima." The past perfect tense is more correct in that case.
Boy   Saturday, September 18, 2004, 13:10 GMT
Can I say:

I was used to living in Lima.
Mxsmanic   Saturday, September 18, 2004, 16:00 GMT
Only if you became accustomed to it. "I was used to living" is not the same as "I used to live." The former means that you became accustomed to living there; the latter means that you lived there in the past, and you are not living there now. The past simple just means that you lived there in the past, and it doesn't say anything about where you are living now.