Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: *used to could.

*used to could. *”Used to could” is dialectal for “used to be able to” or “could formerly.” It appears mostly in reported speech — e.g.: o “‘I was a lot stronger back then,’ Webb said. ‘I used to could [read ‘once could’ or ‘used to be able to’] take a 100-pound bag and lift it over my head.'” Melissa Devaughn, “It Was a Grind, but Floyd County Miller Loved His Work,” Roanoke Times, 23 Oct. 1994, at 19. o “‘You used to could [read ‘used to be able to’] read all the liner notes and see who wrote the songs and who played on whose album,’ he said.” Lori Buttars, “Silver Tongues Joe Flint,” Salt Lake Trib., 23 June 1996, at J1. Language-Change Index — *”used to could”: Stage 1. *Invariably inferior form. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Among the middle classes of society to this day, we may observe that certain family proverbs are traditionally preserved: the favorite saying of a father is repeated by the sons; and frequently the conduct of a whole generation has been influenced by such domestic proverbs.” 3 Isaac D’Israeli, Curiosities of Literature 42 (1858).
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