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‘Used to’ and ‘would’
Meaning and use
We can use used to and would to talk about things we did regularly in the past, but we don’t do now. We use used to for either habits or states in the past. Would is used only for past habits, not for past states.
- Elena used to visit her grandson on Saturdays, but now she visits him on Sundays. (past habit)
- On Fridays, we would take a long walk after lunch. (past habit)
- The weather didn’t use to be so cold in May. (past state)
NOT: The weather wouldn’t be so cold in May.
Used to and would often have the idea of comparison or change over time.
- Elena used to visit her grandson on Saturdays but now she visits him on Sundays.
- We would take a long walk after lunch (but now we do not.)
- The weather didn’t use to be so cold in May. (now, it is cold in May)
The different forms of these phrases are used to + infinitive (without ‘to’) or did / did not / didn’t + use to + infinitive (without ‘to’), and would / would not / wouldn’t + infinitive (without ‘to’).
Used to is the simple past. Use to is used in negative and question forms. It is used for both habits and states.
Used to – Habit
- Isabel used to sing in a band.
- Pablo didn’t use to drive to work.
- Did John use to study with you?
Used to – State
- Bob used to be much shorter.
- I didn’t use to like art.
- Did Wayne use to belong to the debate team?
- Didn’t Margaret use to hate flying?
Would – Habit (not for states)
- Since I always had that day free, I would shop for groceries every Monday.
- Since we were always in a hurry, we wouldn’t stop for tea on Fridays.
- Would you often stay for lunch?
Take note: adverbs
Used to and would already show that something happened in the past. We don’t usually add adverbs. But, if you want to stress a time period, you can add an adverb.
- I didn’t use to travel frequently, but now I do.
- Nancy would go for a jog every day, but now she doesn’t have enough time.