“Used to” and “would”

When talking about habits or states in the past, “used to” or “would” are often used. English often uses these forms to contrast the past with the present.

“Used to” and “would”

When talking about habits or states in the past, “used to” or “would” are often used. English often uses these forms to contrast the past with the present.

“USED TO”

“Used to” can be used with the base form of a verb to talk about past habits.

“Used to” can also be used to talk about fixed states at some indefinite time in the past.

Some more examples:

Did you use to ride a scooter when you were a student?

I used to eat lunch on my own, but now I sit with friends.

I used to eat meat, but now I'm a vegetarian.

I didn't use to believe in ghosts until I visited a haunted house.

We didn't use to think England was cold until we moved here.

I didn't use to be afraid of spiders until I visited Australia.

 

COMMON MISTAKES “USED TO” AND THE PAST CONTINUOUS:

When talking about habits in the past, “used to” should be used. It is incorrect to use the past continuous in this context.

We used to play lots of board games when we were younger. (correct) 

We were playing lots of board games when we were younger. (Incorrect)

(The past continuous shouldn't be used to talk about past habits.)

 

ANOTHER WAY TO SAY “USED TO” WITH HABITS:

“Used to” can be replaced by “would” in writing and formal speech, but only to talk about past habits. These statements often include a reference to time to describe when, or how often something happened.

Some more Examples:

When I was little, we would go for a picnic every Saturday. 

When I was a student in college, would spend as little as possible. 

Whenever there were sports on TV, we just wouldn't do our homework. 

Before I moved abroad, wouldn't try anything new. 

 

COMMON MISTAKES “WOULD” WITH STATES:

“Would” cannot be used to talk about states in the past. “Used to” must be used instead.

We used to live in London before we moved to Sydney. (correct) 

We would live in London before we moved to Sydney. (Incorrect)

(“Would” cannot be used in this way with state verbs.)