“Used To” And “Would” For The Past

oday’s lesson falls into both the categories of English Grammar and English Usage.  The terms “Use To” and “Would” can (and are) BOTH be used to talk about the past.


owever — this particular subject is one of many areas of English that the traditional English teachers and text-books get completely wrong — and have, thus, been confusing & frustrating students *for centuries….  maybe even longer!  😀


Notice!  —  *That last part about “centuries” was a little bit of sarcasm. But they certainly have been un-necessarily confusing people for a very long time. However, I believe that you are intelligent enough to actually “get it”. So, by the time you finish this article, you will be smarter than those teachers.  😎

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Here Are A Few Simple Ways To Remember Which To Use, And For What Situations…

For “States Of Being”

his one is easy.  To talk about states of being:  Thoughts, Feelings, Opinions, Emotions, etc., and physical “States Of Being” — such-as:  Hair-Color, Physical-Size, Gender, Place-Of-Residence — and a vast array of other such things…


For Example

“I used to live in Wisconsin.”

–  (However, now I don’t)

“I used to be a hippie.”

–  (However, now I am NOT!)

“I used to think that Nicki Minaj had talent.”

–  (However, now I can see that — since she has become a brainless puppet for the fake-Illuminati — she has become completely irrelevant and has nothing more, artistically, to offer to The World…  [although the songs:  “Your Love” and “Massive Attack” will always be awesome!!!])

We Would Never Say…

“I would be born in Milwaukee.”
“I would have dreadlocks, almost down to my butt.”
“I would think that Duran Duran was the best band in the world.”


  • First of All:  In some situations, it just doesn’t make any sense*….  (“I would be born…”)
  • Secondly:  Using “Would” with “States Of Being” puts the sentence or clause into the future.  Or it makes the situation hypothetical.  Therefore, it would need to be turned into a Conditional Phrase.
“I would have dreadlocks, almost down to my butt, if I wanted people to think that I did nothing but smoke pot all day long.”

–  (But I don’t… So I won’t)

“I would still think that Duran Duran was the best band in the world, if I was still in fourth grade.”

–  (But I’m not…  So I don’t) – [Notice the addition of the time-phrase “still”]

*Special Case!

It Is Possible To Say:

“He would be born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The child of two young hippies — struggling to find their way in a world that would soon be up-turned by sickness and poverty.  Where-in the lofty ideals of the ’60s would turn into the self-centered depravity of the ’80s.  Leaving the child to think that NOTHING good came from the age of ‘The Boomers’.”

ut, this only works in the situation where-in, someone is writing-about or speaking-about His or Her Life (or the life of anyone else) in a way so that they are “putting” The Listener or Reader “into” the time-line of the story — and is “speaking” from the time before he “…would be born…“.

his is clearly only useful for “Literary” writing, and would be a very strange way to speak or write for any other setting.  This is also an example of how Creative Writing & Story-Telling “break the rules” of Grammar for the sake of Artistic Expression.


his is the situation where-in a lot of teachers (who suck at their jobs) may tell you that it is “confusing”.  But, there is absolutely no reason to be confused.  It is actually VERY simple

*Warning! — If Any Teacher Tells You That ANY Part Of Learning English Is “Difficult”…


You Are Awesome And This Is REALLY EASY!!!!

Don’t Let Anyone Tell You What You Can & Can’t Do!!!


early all text-books and teachers will state that you can use either “Would” or “Used To” to talk about repeated actions or habits in the past.  Well… That’s true. You can…  But that’s not the WHOLE Truth… There is more to it than that!


hat’s EASY!!! — Just remember that:  Whether it is a “State Of Being” or A Past Action that doesn’t happen anymore — you can ALWAYS use “Used To”.  😉

For Example

“I used to smoke pot from the time that I woke up in the early afternoon, until I passed-out early the next morning.”

–  (However, I don’t do that anymore) – PAST ACTION

“I used to think that maybe I was just a little bit ‘crazy’.”

–  (However, now I know that it is actually the majority of the REST of the people in the world who are the crazy ones!) – STATE OF BEING  (related to an idea or a feeling — a “Mental State Of Being”)

“I used to be really afraid of ghosts & evil creatures following me up the stairs when I was going to my bedroom at night.”

–  (However — I have made friends with the ghosts, and now the evil creatures are scared of ME!  So…  no problem)  😀 – STATE OF BEING

nd now we come to the part that has been left out of literally EVERY single text-book that I have EVER worked with.  And (for some reason), I have NEVER heard ANYONE speak about this in any on-line lesson or video that I have ever watched on the subject.  I came to this conclusion by my own observation and contemplation.

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(Otherwise The Statement Is Hypothetical, And In The Future)

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For Example

“When I was in high-school, I wore combat boots and  would actually march home as-if I was in the military.”

–  (“When I was in high-school…” is the time-expression)  – BROAD PERIOD OF TIME

“When I was four-years-old, I would lie awake in my bed and watch the sparkly lights dance around my room.”

–  (“When I was four-years-old…” is the time-expression)  – SPECIFIC PERIOD OF TIME

And To Use An Example From Before…

“I used to be really afraid of chosts & evil creatures following me up the stairs when I was going to my bedroom at night — so I would run-my-ass-off through the top-half of the stairs, so they could not catch me.”

–  (“When I was going to my bedroom at night…” is the time-expression)  – SITUATIONAL TIME-PERIOD

If I Said…

“I would actually march home…”

“I would watch the sparkly lights…”


“I would run-my-ass-off…”
nd I said those things without the time-expression*then whoever I was speaking to would not know what-the-hell I was talking about (as there is no point of reference [time or situation] for the action).

*Special Case!

t is possible to use the phrases above without the time-expression IF — and ONLY if — it is in answer to a question.  This is because the time expression is already known from previous statements or questions.

For Example

“What is one of the weirdest things that you used to do when You were a kid?”

–  “I would actually march home from school in my combat boots, as if I was in the military”

“What is one of your favorite memories from your childhood?”

–  “When I would lie awake in my bed and watch the sparkly lights dance around my roon.”

n both of these examples, the time expression is in the question — so therefore — it is not necessary to add it to the answer, as it is already known.


For “States Of Being” In The Past:

We can ONLY use USED TO.  😎

For Repeated Actions Or Habits In The Past:

We can ALWAYS use USED TO.

We can ONLY use WOULD if there is a Time Expression.  😎



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Have An Excellent Day!


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