Difference between used to and would

Used to- and -would- are two verbs that in the English language refer to recurring activities in the past, that is, actions that were usually carried out in the past tense. Despite having similar uses, they have different applications, since in the English language there are pre-established sentences with each of these verbs.

In order to expand this information and clarify possible doubts that readers may have, we present in this article a detailed description of both verbs and their specific uses in order to determine the differences between them.

used to

-Used to- is a modal verb used to talk about long-term situations that took place in the past tense but were not repeated actions, that is, long-term actions as in the case of -i used to live in Paris – (I used to live in Paris), since living in a certain place is an action for a long time but they are not actions that are repeated.

The verb -used to- is always followed by the verb in the infinitive. Likewise, this is accompanied by verbs that indicate recurrent action, that is, states (go, live, think), since this verb indicates that said action was carried out frequently in the past. It is also a verb that is used to talk about facts and generalizations, when accompanied by verbs that refer to some permanent state.


  • We used to go to the beach in the summer: Indicates frequent action in the past.
  • Sarah used to live in Madrid: indicates facts and generalizations.


Would is a modal verb (auxiliary verbs that cannot function as a main verb) that in the English language is used to refer to past habits with actions that occurred repeatedly.

Therefore, this verb is used to refer to actions that were performed repeatedly in the past as in the sentence -i would often sit at the back- (I used to sit in the back), indicating an action that was performed repeatedly. repeatedly in the past tense.

Therefore, it must be used with verbs that indicate movement such as singing, playing or walking, among others. In the same way, -would- is equivalent to the imperfect past tense in Spanish as in the example:

  • When I was a girl I would play with dolls with my sister.


  • Louis would always drink a glass of watter at mornings: indicates a habit from the past that was done repeatedly.

As can be seen in the descriptions and examples above, the verbs -used to- and -would- refer to past habits but in different expressions. Therefore, we find that the main difference between these verbs is:

  • -Used to- refers to past habits, that is, frequent but not repetitive actions, while -would- refers to past habits in relation to actions that were performed repeatedly.
  • -Used to- is accompanied by verbs that indicate recurring action (states) while -would- is accompanied by verbs that indicate movement.

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