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USE 2 Past Facts and Generalizations

"Used to" can also be used to talk about past facts or generalizations which are no longer true.


· I used to live in Paris.

· Sarah used to be fat, but now she is thin.

· George used to be the best student in class, but now Lena is the best.

· Oranges used to cost very little in Florida, but now they are quite expensive.

"Used to" vs. Simple Past

Both Simple Past and "Used to" can be used to describe past habits, past facts and past generalizations; however, "used to" is preferred when emphasizing these forms of past repetition in positive sentences. On the other hand, when asking questions or making negative sentences, Simple Past is preferred.


· You used to play the piano.

· Did you play the piano when you were young?

· You did not play the piano when you were young.



· Jerry used to pay the bills. Active

· The bills used to be paid by Jerry. Passive

Would Always


[would always + VERB]


· You would always take your surfboard with you when you went to the beach.

· Would you always take your surfboard with you when you went to the beach?

· You would not always take your surfboard with you when you went to the beach.

USE 1 Habit in the Past

Like "used to" and Simple Past, "would always" expresses the idea that something was an old habit which stopped in the past. It says that an action was often repeated in the past, but it is not usually done now. Unlike "used to" and Simple Past, "would always" suggests that someone willingly acted that way and sometimes expresses annoyance or amusement at the habit. It also often suggests the habit was extreme. To express the opposite idea, we can say "would never" to indicate that someone never did something in the past, but now they do.


· She would always send me strange birthday gifts.

· Sam and Mary would always choose the most exotic vacation destinations.

· Sally would not always arrive early to class. She came late once or twice.

· Ned would always show up at our house without calling first.

· Mindy would not always walk to school. Sometimes, she took the bus.

· Christine would always come late to the meetings.

· Jeff would never pay for drinks when we went out together with our friends.
Refusing to do something or normally not doing something is also a form of habit.

REMEMBER "Would Always" is Different

"Would always" is not exactly the same as "used to" or the Simple Past. "Would always" cannot be used to talk about past facts or generalizations. It can only be used for repeated actions.


· Sarah was shy, but now she is very outgoing. Correct

· Sarah used to be shy, but now she is very outgoing. Correct

· Sarah would always be shy, but now she is very outgoing. Not Correct

Forms Related to "Would Always"

In addition to "would always," English speakers often use "would constantly," "would often," "would forever" or simply "would." Although the last form "would" is correct, it is not suggested because it can easily be confused with other verb forms such as the Conditional or Future in the Past. Similarly, speakers can use "would rarely," "would occasionally" and "would seldom" to express the idea that an action was not often repeated.


· Jerry would come to the parties every weekend.

· Jerry would constantly bring his girlfriend to the parties.

· Jerry would often bring his best friend to the parties.

· Jerry would occasionally bring his older brother to the parties.

· Jerry would seldom bring his sister to the parties.

· Jerry would never bring his younger brother to the parties.



· My mother would always makethe pies. Active

· The pies would always be madeby my mother. Passive

Future in the Past

Like Simple Future, Future in the Past has two different forms in English: "would" and "was going to." Although the two forms can sometimes be used interchangeably, they often express two different meanings.

FORM Would

[would + VERB]


· I knew you would help him.

· I knew you would not help him.

FORM Was/Were Going To

[was/were + going to + VERB]


· I knew you were going to go to the party.

· I knew you were not going to go to the party.

USE 1 Future in Past

Future in the Past is used to express the idea that in the past you thought something would happen in the future. It does not matter if you are correct or not. Future in the Past follows the same basic rules as the Simple Future. "Would" is used to volunteer or promise, and "was going to" is used to plan. Moreover, both forms can be used to make predictions about the future.


· I told you he was going to come to the party. plan

· I knew Julie would make dinner. voluntary action

· Jane said Sam was going to bring his sister with him, but he came alone. plan

· I had a feeling that the vacation was going to be a disaster. prediction

· He promised he would send a postcard from Egypt. promise

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