Explanations » B1+ Grammar Explanations » Would and used to – past habits and repeated actions
Exercises
Explanation
Course

Would and used to – past habits and repeated actions

A grammar chart explaining the difference between "used to" and "would" for past habits and repeated actions. It includes examples and common mistakes.

Download full-size image from Pinterest

Used to do

Repeated actions in the past

We can use used to + infinitive to talk about things that we did repeatedly in the past.

  • When I was a child, I used to go skiing every winter. 
  • From the age of 12 until I was 16, I used to dance at weekends. 

Situations or states that are no longer true

We can use used to + infinitive to talk about situations or states (stative verbs) which were true in the past but are no longer true.

  • As a child, I used to be blond. 
  • I used to live with my mum when I was a child.

Would do

Repeated actions in the past

We can also use would + infinitive to talk about things that we did repeatedly in the past.

  • When I was a child, we would go to the shopping centre every Saturday. 
  • My 5th-grade teacher would tell me to shut up at the beginning of every class.

NOT used to talk about situations or states that are no longer true

We cannot use would to talk about situations or states (stative verbs) which are no longer true.

  • I would be blond as a child. blank
  • I used to be blond as a child. blank
  • I would live with my mum when I was a child. blank
  • I used to live with my mum when I was a child. blank