Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Grammar grabber

Squirreling old enough to know better: "I didn't used to do that."

Mama Squirrel: "Could you find a more grammatical way to say that?"

Eager smaller Squirreling: "Yeah, that's not right, because you did used to do that."


Anonymous said...

I'm usually a bit of a grammar Nazi, but for the life of me I can't figure out how to say that more correctly! have mercy on me! Put me out of my misery by posting the correct sentence. I think I need a nap.

Mama Squirrel said...

Well, "I didn't used to do that" and "it didn't used to do that" are all over the Internet, so I guess it's a pretty common usage--but it still sounds bad to me. You could say "I used not to do that," but that doesn't mean exactly the same thing, for instance if you are responding to the accusation that you used to steal your sister's stuff, and you're saying that you could never have been guilty of such a thing, saying "I used not to do that" doesn't exactly fit the situation; sounds like maybe you didn't steal her stuff back then, but you have recently started.

I guess "I didn't use to do that" is a little more correct (and it's hard to tell the difference in spoken language). "I didn't use to put the milk in the cupboard and the spoons in the fridge, but these days..." I still don't like it much, though. How about just a plaintive "I didn't do that!" or maybe "I didn't ever do that!"

More opinions?