used to/would [like swimming, play chess.....}


Senior Member
I know that USED TO and WOULD can be synonyms.

I used to smoke when I was in University. = I would smoke when I was in University.

However, some verbs don't work with WOULD and work with USED TO. I have come across a few which I would like to check with you.

1 I would like swimming when I was younger.
2 I would live in my country house every summer.
3 I would think that oranges were white.
4 I would play chess.

Are the four wrong? Or only some of the four?
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    This use of "would" is unusual, and refers to a repeated event or action. "Used to" is common and can refer to either a repeated event or a situation.

    In (1), the verb "like" refers to a situation rather than an action. You cannot use "would".
    In (2), you are using "live" to refer to a repeated event, so "would" is possible.
    In (3), "think" does not describe an action or event, so you cannot use "would"
    In (4), "play" refers to a repeated event and "would" is fine.

    Although "would" can be used in (2) and (4), you would need a particular context for it to sound natural, whereas you can (almost) always use "used to".
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