Main Difference – Used to vs Would
Used to and would describe actions, situations, and events that happened in the past. Although these two verbs can be used interchangeably in some cases, there are some differences between the two. In this article, we are going to look at this difference between used to and would. The main difference between used to and would is that used to can be used with both action verbs and stative verbs whereas would is only used with action verbs.
Used to – Meaning and Usage
Used to is mainly used to describe repeated actions in the past, that no longer happen. Therefore, it cannot be used with actions that still happen. Used to is always followed by another verb, For example,
We used to play badminton on Saturdays.
He used to make delicious apple pies.
As seen from the above examples, used to can be used with action verbs. It can also be used with state verbs like love, like, feel, etc. Verbs like live and have can also be used with used to.
I used to love this cartoon.
She used to feel sad when her mother cried.
They used to live in another country.
My father used to have a beard.
This building used to be a public school.
Would – Meaning and Usage
Would can also be used to indicate a repeated action, situation or event in the past. Would is always used with action verbs. For example,
When I was little, I would get up early on Sunday mornings.
Every Sunday, we would visit our grandmother.
When I was at school, I would spend hours and hours at the library.
It is important to notice that would cannot be used with stative verbs to describe the past actions. It is always safe to use used to with such verbs.
I used to love gardening.
I would love gardening.
You can observe that the second sentence doesn’t convey a complete meaning; it doesn’t also indicate the past.
It is also important to notice that when you are using would to indicate the past, the time period or the situation should always be established. For example, ‘we would go camping’ has no definite meaning as it doesn’t indicate the time clearly. But, ‘Every summer, we would go camping’ makes more sense since it indicates the time.
You might have also notice that used to is the more familiar and commonly used word out of these two. Would, in this sense, is not much used in the spoken context since it sounds a bit formal.
Difference Between Used to and Would
Used to can be used with both action verbs and stative verbs.
Would is only used with action verbs.
Used to can be used without establishing a time period.
Would cannot be used without establishing a time period.
Used to is more casual and is used in everyday speech.
Would is a little formal and polite than used to.