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Used to vs. would
POR RRHH Digital, 00:07 - 12 de Junio del 2018

When we talk about something that happened regularly or repeatedly in the past but not now, we often use the structures `used to + infinitive' and `would + infinitive'.

used to + infinitive

  • We use used to + infinitive when we talk about things that happened in the past but do not happen now. In the negative we say didn't use to + infinitive:
  • I used to live in a large city, but now I live by the seaside.
  • I didn't use to go swimming everyday. Did you use to live in a small or large city?
  • We can use this structure with both states and actions:
  • Paul used to be very calm when he was younger. Now he's stressed all the time. (STATE)
  • Paul used to work full-time, but now he only takes on part-time jobs. (ACTION)

would + infinitive

  • 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, although both would and used to are possible: 
  • I remember growing up in the countryside. It was a peaceful and simple life. I would pick vegetables every day and from time to time I would feed the chickens with my mother.
  • Note that would can only describe past events and actions. It is not usually used with states. To
  • describe past states we can only use used to:
  • Paul would be used to be very calm when he was younger. Now he's stressed all the time. 

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