Would and used to

Hello teachers and learners! I try to find out what do I use better in these sentences:
He WOULD sit here all day long, looking at his car
He USED TO sit here all day long, looking at his car
What do you prefer use WOULD or USED TO and why?
I have no my own opinion and I hesitate.
Thanks. KAT

Hello everybody. Hi KAT! I have many doubts too. Why WOULD? WHY USED TO? And Idon’t understand the difference between these expressions
I only know that WOULD RATHER …THAN isn’t used in past time.
Could anybody explaine?
Many thanks in advance .

Hi Kat and Zulfiya,

Thanks for your messages on the Forum. To answer your question: the easiest way to explain the main difference between these two constructions is to say that ‘used to’ is the more usual way to express something you did in the past but not now and ‘would’ is very often used in a literary or narrative sense. ‘Would’ is also the word we would describe a past activity in a nostalgic way. I have put the two forms in the same sentences to illustrate the difference: ’ Every day he used to travel 100 miles to work there and back and on his journeys he would often think of the time when he could stop work altogether’. Again: ‘When she was a young girl she used to write a letter to her boyfriend every day and then they would meet at the weekends and discuss their future lives together’.

Hope this helps


Hi Alan, thank you very much. Your explanation is very interesting.
Thank you . Zulfiya :slight_smile:

Hello Guys! I have read your explaination regarding the use of “would” and “used to” though I am still not precisely clear on following case: I have read some grammar books, and one of them is the Advanced Grammar in Use from Crambridge University Press, and it tells us that We use “used to” but not “would” to talk about past states, well, the point is, what they mean by STATE , because I have seen sentences such as " there would be a prize for the winner every time we played" as wel as " I would feel even worse every time she talked to me" ; and as far as I am concerned in these sentences the verbs give you and idea of state, don’t they?
Thank you very much.

Hi Upright,

An interesting question. I think what your grammar book is describing with the word ‘state’ is activity or action rather than describing an imagined or pictured ‘activity’.
In the sentence you quote: ‘I would feel worse … she talked’, the verb ‘talked’ is past and is technically a past state because it describes what actually happened - ‘talking’. On the other hand ‘I would feel’ is the speaker looking back to what was imagined.

Hope this helps a little.