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Used to/would

Introduction

We use "used to" and "would" to describe habits or truths in the past; they do not happen or are not true in the present.
Examples:

"used to" or "would" used to
"used to" vs. "would"
Compare the following sentences:

Form 1 - used to

We use "used to" with the infinitive of the main verb (without to). In negative and question forms, we use "did" with "use to" (not "used to"):

positive I / You / We / They
He / She / It
used to like chocolate.
negative didn't use to
did not use to

question Did I / you / we / they
he / she / it
use to like chocolate?

Practice

Complete the sentences with the positive, negative or question form of "used to" using the verb in brackets:


  • Sarah good at dancing. (be)
     
  • When I was young, I fish but now I eat it all the time. (not eat)
     
  • I piano lessons. (have)
     
  • Where did they to school? (go)
     

Form 2 - would

We use "would" with the infinitive of the main verb (without "to"):

positive I / You / We / They
He / She / It
would eat chocolate.
negative wouldn't
would not

question Would I / you / we / they
he / she / it
eat chocolate?
We can contract "would" and the subject pronoun:
I’d / you’d / we’d / they’d / she’d / he’d / it’d

Practice

Complete the sentences with the positive, negative or question form of "would" using the verb in brackets:


  • When I was learning to play the piano, I every evening. (practise)
     
  • At university, Michael until late at night. (study)
     
  • They spicy food when they were young. (not eat)
     
  • Before you bought a car, how you to work? (travel)
     

Form 3 - "used to" / "would" with "always", "never", "ever"

We can use "always" with the positive, negative and question forms of "used to" and "would". We use "never" with the positive form of "used to" and "would" and "ever" with the negative and question forms:

used to

positive I / You / We / They
He / She / It
never / always used to like chocolate.
negative didn't
did not
ever / always

question Did I / you / we / they
he / she / it
ever / always use to like chocolate?

would

positive I / you / we / they
he / she / it
never / always used to like chocolate.
negative didn't
did not
ever / always

question Would I / you / we / they
he / she / it
ever / always eat chocolate?
Examples:

Practice

Complete the sentences using either "used to" or "would" and the verb in brackets:


  • He always vegetables at the market. (buy)
     
  • Sarah never . (smoke)
     
  • They always English. (speak)
     
  • Did they ever to the library? (go)
     

Further practice

Complete the sentences with the correct answer from a, b, c or d:



Check my answers
Note that you'll sometimes hear the order of "never" / "always" and "used to" switched in spoken English, as in the example: "I used to always like chocolate."

However, for the examples and exercises in this worksheet we've used the standard word order as explained above (e.g. "I always used to like chocolate.").

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