More often than not, when I tell my students that the word ‘would’ is also used to talk about past actions, they look at me suspiciously.
I bet they are probably thinking things like “She must have gotten confused”, “Maybe I didn’t understand well” or even “Does this woman know what she’s talking about?”.
Since I know this all too well, I immediately reassure them that yes, they understood correctly and no, I’m not crazy. ‘Would’ is in fact used to talk about past actions. Now, convincing them that that’s true is the easy part, the hard part is actually teaching them how to use it.
Just like many other grammar topics, teaching someone a bunch of rules won’t help them to actually use them when speaking. Sure, maybe they’ll get every answer on the test right, but when it’s time to use that rule naturally in a conversation… that’s a whole other thing.
Having said that, I do realize that knowing that at least there is a rule can be a pretty comforting thought, so here’s my attempt to explain to you how to use ‘used to’ and ‘would’ as well as the difference between them.
After each video, you’ll find a short quiz for you to get some practice as well.
How to use 'Used To'
How to use 'Would'
The Difference Between 'Used To' and 'Would'
Ready for the final quiz? In some of the questions, it may be possible to use both ‘used to’ and ‘would’. However, try to use ‘would’ whenever possible. Good luck! =)
If you’re still feeling confused, don’t worry. It’s perfectly normal. We just planted a little grammar seed in your brain, now it’s up to you to water it and make it grow. How? Pay attention! When listening to a podcast, watching a movie or a TV series, pay attention to how ‘would’ is used and start making the connection between the context and its use.
Before you know it, you’ll be using it naturally in your own sentences!
If you feel like practicing, leave a comment and tell me more about your childhood. Make a few simple sentences and use ‘would’ whenever possible.