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I used to see commercials for these.

What the hell does “used” actually mean in the previous sentence? We all take it to mean “formerly” or “there was a time when”, but it just doesn’t make any sense to say “used”, though it be the convention. I didn’t use to think this was a problem. But see, here we go again.
The verb “used” as in “I used to see commercials” is only past tense due to the ‘d’ at the end. The question comes up in the (excuse me) use of the word “use”. Say “use” ten times aloud to yourself. It’s an odd word to begin with. Sounds like a vernacular form of addressing an individual.

Use gonna pay for that.

Anyways, it’s the ‘d’ suffix that accounts for the past tense when we say “I used to have dreams” and the root word “use” has fallen under scrutiny. It denotes utility or some other form of purpose-fulfillment, and I’m having a spot of trouble reconciling it.  I can only make sense of it with the past tense verb form, “used”, meaning the functionality of it has been spent, it’s like used toilet paper or a used pair of shoes.

I used to walk with her through the crisp autumn air.

But it’s soiled now, and wholly unservicable. In that sense, “used” takes on a melancholy connotation, however widespread its use.


Posted January 19, 2010 by Wada in Uncategorized

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