1. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Use to (spelling)

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by OurJud, Sep 9, 2015.

    Use, pronounced Yooce. As in 'We use to go there on our holidays.'

    Is it spelt the same way as Use, pronounced Yooz. As in 'Use the bottle opener, not your teeth.'

    Is it just the context of the sentence which determines how each is pronounced?
     
  2. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    We used to go there on our holidays.

    Past tense: used.

    It sounds like use to, because the D and the T merge phonetically, or mouthically.
     
  3. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    They are spelt the same way, yes.
     
  4. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    But they're not. You've just said so.

    One in spelt 'used' the other is spelt 'use'

    So then there's three different types??

    Use - "Use a bottle opener"
    Used - (past tense) "We used to go there on our holidays."
    Used - "You used me!"

    Yooz
    Yoost
    Yuzed
     
  5. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    They are pronounced differently but the spelling is the same.

    In Use.
    Use with caution.

    and added a D for past tense.
     
  6. rainy_summerday
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    rainy_summerday Active Member

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    I might be wrong, but aren't those simply forms of the same verb but used in different ways?

    Case 1: Full verb (to use something) - requires an object
    Case 2: Modal verb (used to to do something) - requires an infinitive
    Case 3: Full verb (to use someone) - requires an object

    Maybe that's what you mean by types.
     
  7. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Yeah right. I don't know all that fancy English stuff :oops:
     
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  8. rainy_summerday
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    rainy_summerday Active Member

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    Well, we are a great team that way :) You give the answer, and I provide the terminology.

    And I actually overlooked part of your question, Jud. Sorry for that. The pronounciation should be the same, because the forms all go back to the same word.
    The sound of words sometimes changes depending on the "environment." Humans are very lazy creatures, and so are our mouths. It's less effort to pronounce similar sounds, and due to this, we sometimes slightly change a sound to reduce the work for our tongue. We do that unconsciously. This is also the reason why you have got different pronounciations of "the" (the car - the apple). So, yes, you are right. The context may change the pronounciation.
     
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  9. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hold on, I'm still not getting this.

    Are you saying that 'used' in the sentence: "We used to go there there on holiday" should be pronounced yoozed ?

    If that's the case, and it's down to laziness, why are we happy to pronounce it like this when in a sentence such as: "You used me!" ?

    Although I've just had a thought. Maybe the confusion here lies with accents. I'm from the northwest of England. DC is from Australia, and you don't say where you're from.

    But in my neck of the woods, we would say:

    "You yoozed me!"
    "We yoost to go there on holiday."
    "Yooz a bottle opener, not your teeth."
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was going to suggest that"used to" is an idiom, rather than a normal use of the word "use". Googling tells me that it's a "modal verb". (?) In either case, it's definitely spelled with the "d".

    I think that it also makes its own rules for how it's pronounced. If I say

    The flashlight is used to find the light switch.
    and
    I used to use a flashlight to find the light switch.

    the "used to" sounds quite different in the two sentences, at least in my local accent. Edited to add: And very much like OurJud's suggested pronunciations.
     
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  11. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well I suppose it's only the correct spelling that really matters, so at least I've had that cleared up.

    I'm now wondering how many instances of 'use' there are in my WiP, that should really be 'used'.
     
  12. rainy_summerday
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    rainy_summerday Active Member

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    I think the pronounciation of "used" in
    1. I used to take piano lessons
    2. I used a computer
    is identical.

    /ju:zd/ - that should be its phonetic equivalent.

    The d sound is called a plosive, because you can feel it explode (or pop) in your mouth. Try it, it's quite funny. A plosive stops the air flow, then the air is suddenly released.
    T is a plosive as well. D and t are very close, but they are different in one very important element: The strength behind their sound. When you put two or three fingers on your jugular, and you pronounce both sounds after one another, you will notice how strong the d sound feels in comparison to the t. This is called voicing. T is voiceless, while d is a voiced plosive.

    I am from Germany lol

    I would not dare correct you on your pronounciation or your grammar. I am merely talking about linguistic concepts. It's true that accents may influence the pronounciation, but these "rules" can be observed in Received Pronounciation and General American as well. The paragraph about the plosives is true for all languages I am aware of.

    I explained about the similarities and difference between t and d sound. This is important for the following paragraph.
    In your second example, "We used to", you describe the impression that it should be /ju:st/ instead of /ju:zd/.
    That's because humans automatically use short cuts in their language.
    The d from used is followed by the t of to. However, by nature, the d and t are already very similar to one another. Then your tongue decides that there is no need to make such an effort for similar sounds, why not reduce it to the same sound in both words. The d in used is "downgraded". It loses its voicing, and then the d becomes a t. That is not a mistake, it is a regular linguistic phenomenon.

    In your third example, there is no need to assimilate a sound, because a consonant hits a vowel: "Use a"
    The e is silent, therefore the s is followed by the a sound.

    In your first case, "You used me", the d sound is followed by the m sound. They are not similar in terms of how they are created in your mouth, therefore your tongue would not benefit much from reducing the d to a t sound.

    But basically, Aaron was right. The pronounciation may slightly change depending on the environment, but it's the same word. As you gussed. Your feeling for the English language must be quite good. I've never asked myself questions like yours until I was confronted with these phenomena during my studies.
     
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  13. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I believe so. I don't know how you can comfortably pronounce every consonant (yoozdt) in a sentence like "We used to go..." and yooze'ddo sounds really weird too. So it becomes yooce-to. Then again, voiced vs. unvoiced phones and phonemes are so not my strong suit.

    The grammatical role of the verb, on the other hand, determines its spelling.
     
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  14. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    So, being pedantic, there's no official difference in the way 'used' is pronounced in any given sentence, but we all accept that it's impossible not to sound them differently given certain contexts?
     

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