Habits in the Past: 'Would' (or 'd) or 'used to'?
Would and Used to: talking about past habits
1. When I was at school I used to/would wear a horrible uniform.
2. My sister used to/would have two boyfriends when I was eighteen.
3. The Prime Minister used to/would know the President before he was killed.
4. Mrs. Thatcher had a very patronising manner and used to/would talk to her Cabinet as if they were children. Of course, some of them used to/would like it!!
5. I've given up smoking - I used to/would smoke about 10 cigarettes a day. When I was rich I used to/would smoke cigars.
6. The film 'Ulysses' used to/would be banned by the film censors.
7. I used not to be/wouldn't be afraid of flying.
8. What did you use to/would you do when you couldn't sleep before exams. My brother used to/would raid the fridge so there would be nothing for breakfast the next morning.
9. We used to/would be happy, my husband and I, but our tastes changed.
10. Our cat has a tattoo in his ear and we've been told that perhaps he used to/would live in the United States - we don't know because he can't tell us.
1.used to 2. used to 3.used to 4.both 5.both 6.used to 7.used not to/never used to be/didn't use to be 8.both 9.used 10. used to
The grammar rule: certain verbs in English are seen in the mind as 'states'
which are permanent e.g. I understand, I know, I have (in the sense 'I own' or 'I possess'), I speak several languages (not 'I am speaking' with 'languages').
These verbs do not take the Continuous forms, nor do they take 'would'.
You can say 'I would often play pool when I stayed in youth hostels' but you cannot say 'I was having a lot of old cars in my twenties'. You have to say 'I used to have a lot of cars..'. You cannot say 'My husband and I would be happy' when talking about a past state even though you can say 'My husband and I would be happy to see you any time'...this is a different meaning. So you have to ask yourself 'is this an activity or a state'?
See The A - Z of English Grammar & Usage for the rules.
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