martes, 4 de noviembre de 2014

Past habit – used to/would/past simple

When we talk about things that happened in the past but don’t happen anymore we can do it in different ways.


Used to
  • We used to live in New York when I was a kid.
  • There didn’t use to be a petrol station there. When was it built?
We can use ‘used to’ to talk about past states ….
  • I used to go swimming every Thursday when I was at school.
  • I used to smoke but I gave up a few years ago.
… or we can use ‘used to’ to talk about repeated past actions

Remember that ‘used to’ is only for past states/actions that don’t happen now – we can’t use it for things that still happen now. Also, ‘used to + infinitive’ should not be confused with ‘be/get used to + ‘ing’ form’ – this is covered in a separate section.

Would
  • Every Saturday I would go on a long bike ride.
  • My teachers would always say “Sit down and shut up!”
We can use ‘would’ to talk about repeated past actions.

Often either ‘would’ or ‘used to’ is possible. Both of these sentences are possible.
  • Every Saturday, I would go on a long bike ride.
  • Every Saturday I used to go on a long bike ride.
However, only ‘used to’ is possible when we talk about past states.
  • We used to live in New York when I was a kid.
  • We would live in New York when I was a kid.
Past simple
  • We went/used to go/would go to the same beach every summer.
We can use the past simple in the same way as ‘used to’ and ‘would’ to talk about repeated past actions.
  • I had/used to have a dog called Charlie.
We can also use the past simple for past states.
  • I went to Egypt in 1988.
However, if something happened only once we can’t use ‘used to’ or ‘would’ – we must use the past simple.