Hoy vamos a ver la diferencia entre used to y would.
‘You may already know what the meaning of ‘used to’ is, but do you also know ‘would + infinitive’? Let’s see the rule:
1. used to = used for habits in the past, repetitive actions in the past. Sometimes it can be translated as «solía», but it’s very important for you to remember the word «habits», as in Spanish we don’t always use ‘solía’ when we talk about habits. You’ll understand what I’m saying by means of some examples:
I didn’t use to eat fruit when I was a child = no solía comer fruta cuando era pequeña OR no comía fruta… (we don’t have to say «solía»)
I used to go to Torrevieja every summer when I was little = solía ir a Torrevieja todos los veranos cuando era pequeña OR iba a Torrevieja todos los veranos…
Did you use to like school when you were at primary school? = ¿Te gustaba el colegio cuando estabas en primaria?
As you can see, in Spanish, we don’t have to say «solía», so better if you remember that ‘used to’ is used for habits in the past, or repetitive situations!
(+) (-) (?)
I used to + infinitive I didn’t use to +infinitive Did you use to + infinitive?
Remember, for the negative and interrogative forms, we don’t write -d for the past, as we already have the past in ‘didn’t’ and ‘did’.
2. would + infinitive = also used for habits in the past and repetitive actions in the past, but only with action verbs, NEVER WITH STATE (NON-ACTION) VERBS. ‘Used to’, however, can be used with both action and state verbs.
First, do you remember the difference between action and non-action (state) verbs? Let me explain it to you:
Action verbs = express actions, examples: run, drive, drink, write, watch, etc.
Non-action or state verbs= express opinion, state, desire, possession and sense = feel, have, want, believe, etc.
I usually explain action and non-action verbs to my students as follows:
If I tell you to draw an action verb, you can do it easily, for example:
But if I tell you to draw a state verb, it’ll be impossible for you. How can you draw «feel» or «be»?
Examples with ‘would’:
– I used to want my father to take me to the park every day when I was a child = correct
would want my father to take me to … = incorrect. ‘Want’ is a state verb, so ‘would’ is not possible here!
– I used to go to the cinema once a month when I was a teenager = correct
– I would go to the cinema … = correct, because ‘go’ is an action verb, so both possibilities are correct!
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