Though 'used to' is not a tense in itself (it's actually a modal verb), we use it to talk about the past instead of the past simple for certain situations.
It can also be used with the verb 'to be' or 'get' + '-ing' to talk about familiarity with situations (e.g. I am used to working hard), but that is not the use we are looking at here.
We use either used to or use to, depending on whether it's affirmative, negative or interrogative (i.e. a question). It's followed by a verb in the infinitive:
use(d) to + infinitive
You'll note from the table that we can use never instead of didn't and that if we do, we use the 'used to' form.
The key point about used to is that we use it to talk about things that we did repeatedly in the past but that we do not do now.
Or visa versa for the negative - things we did not to in the past but do now.
It can also refer to extended states using stative verbs i.e. for states of mind in the past rather than actions.
There are some common time phrases that we use with used to. These are words or phrases that emphasise repetition.
It should be noted here that would is a word used in a similar way to used to i.e. as an alternative to the past simple for discussing past habits and routines over a period of time.
Note that, though there are exceptions in certain contexts, we don't use would with state verbs. For instance, we can't say:
This would not make sense to a native English speaker.
Sometimes we use used to and would together. When we do this, we usually use used to first to set the scene for the actions about to be reported, and then for the actions we use would.
When my friends and I were young we used to go and play by the river. We would imagine we were pirates and would make up wild games.
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