Used to VS Would

Used to + infinitive

Use:  to talk about things that happened in the past but no longer do now.

E.g. I used to smoke a packet of cigarettes a day but now I gave it up.

This structure can be used with both states and actions:

Alex used to have a beard when he was in his twenties. Now, he shaves every day. (STATE)

Alex used to work as an architect. Now, he teaches English. (ACTION)


Would + Infinitive

Use: when we are telling a story or recalling a situation from a long time ago, we often prefer to use would to describe repeated behaviour in the past. Both would and used to are possible:

E.g. I remember growing up. Life was simpler back then, we had no cares in the world. I would play football in the streets every day with my brothers and we would go to the beach every morning with our friends.

Very Important

Would can only be used to describe past events and actions. It is not usually used with states. To describe states we can only use used to:

E.g. Paul would  used to have a beard when he was in his twenties. He shaves every day now he’s 35.

If a past action did not happen regularly or repeatedly, we cannot use used to or would.



A stative verb describes a state not an action. Some examples are:

love, hate, want, need, have, own, belong, know, prefer, be

Word of the month


Pronunciation:  /ˈwɪti/
Definition: Showing or characterized by quick and inventive verbal humour. A great example of wit in English literature is the style of writing used by Jane Austen:

“A woman, especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can”.

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