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Session 2

In this session we'll find out how to use used to and would to talk about things we did regularly in the past. Do you know which one to use when? You will after this session!

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    Activity 3

Activity 3

6 Minute Grammar

Did you really use to...?!

In this 6 Minute Grammar programme, we hear about a strange habit Finn had when he was a child. He used to sleepwalk! Listen to the programme to practise the grammar we've learned so far in this unit, and find out if Catherine used to have any weird habits...

Listen to the audio and complete the activity

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Finn   
Hello again. Welcome to 6 Minute Grammar with me, Finn.

Catherine    
And me, Catherine. Hello.

Finn   
In this programme we're talking about the past with used to and would.

Catherine
That's right, so let's get started. Finn, can you tell us, please, something interesting that you used to do when you were a child.

Finn   
Right, OK, well... I used to sleepwalk.

Catherine
Sleepwalk? Every night Finn?

Finn   
Yes, I used to wake up every night at around midnight. And I would get out of bed. Sometimes I would even get dressed! And then I would sleepwalk.

Catherine
Your poor mum and dad! So Finn said he used to wake up and he would get out of bed. And we use used to and would to talk about thingsthat happened regularly in the past, usually when we're comparing the past with the present. Here’s Neil with those examples again:

Neil   
I used to sleepwalk.
I used to wake up every night at midnight.
I would get out of bed.
Sometimes I would even get dressed.

Finn   
Very good, thank you Neil. Usually either used to or would is possible. So I can say I used to get out of bed or I would get out of bed. Let's hear some more examples:

Neil
I used to get the bus to work but now I walk. It's quicker.
The bus used to take half an hour.
My girlfriend would meet me at the bus stop. Then we would go for a quick drink.

Catherine
OK. Now, we follow used to and would with an infinitive without to for all persons, so it's: I used to get, the bus used to take, My girlfriend would meet me, we would go...

Finn
And we often use the contracted, or short, form of would, so instead of We would go for a drink, I can say we'd go for a drink, I'd get dressed, and so on.

Catherine
But there’s no contraction for used to.

Finn
So that's used to and would for repeated actions or habits in the past. Now we can also use used to to talk about a continued state, or situation in the past. Neil.

Neil
Zina used to live in Taiwan, but now she's living in the UK.
I used to love cooking, but I don't have much time now.
There used to be a restaurant here but they knocked it down.

Catherine
Now we don't use would in this way, so you can't say: There would be a restaurant here but they knocked it down. Would is for things that happened regularly. We can't use it to talk about past states or situations.

IDENT
You're listening to bbclearningenglish.com

Finn
And we're looking at used to and would to talk about what happened regularly in the past.

Catherine
...and also to talk about some of Finn's strange night-time habits...

Finn
Come on... I was a kid! I don't do any of this anymore.

Catherine
Are you sure?

Finn
Nothing like this. Only worse things. What about you Catherine? Did you use to do anything strange when you were younger?

Catherine
Well, not as strange as sleepwalking, I didn't use to sleepwalk. But at night I would sleep on the floor from time to time.

Finn
Really?! Didn't you use to sleep in your bed?

Catherine
No, I would get into bed, but I wouldn't stay there.

Finn
Interesting! Right, OK, for questions and negatives with used to - we use did or didn't plus subject plus use to plus infinitive...

Catherine
...so Finn asked me: "Did you use to do anything strange?" And he asked me: "Didn't you use to sleep in your bed?"

Finn
...and Catherine replied: "I didn't use to sleepwalk..." That's subject plus didn't plus use to plus infinitive.

Catherine
...and that's use to written without a -d. In positive sentences used to has a -d at the end. But in negative sentences and questions, we write use without a -d.

Finn
...Now, the negative of would is wouldn't, so Catherine said I wouldn't stay there. We use wouldn't in questions, too. So Catherine, wouldn't you go back to bed?

Catherine
No, my parents used to put me back to bed.

Finn
OK, time for a quiz. Number one. Listen to this sentence. Is used to spelt with, or without, a -d? When I lived in Jordan, I used to go to the beach every day.

Catherine
And that's used to with a –d.

Finn
Good, now number two. Is this sentence right or wrong? Suleyman would have blond hair when he was a baby.

Catherine
And that's wrong. The correct sentence is Suleyman used to have blond hair when he was a baby.

Finn   
Correct. Number three. Is this right or wrong? Do you used to live in Beijing?

Catherine
That's wrong. Use to questions need did, not do. And that's the end of the quiz. Well done if you got them all right.

Finn
There's more about this on our website at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again soon for 6 Minute Grammar.

Both  
Bye.

Download

You can download 6 Minute Grammar from our Unit 29 downloads page. Remember to subscribe to our podcast version!

End of Session 2

And that's it for this session. Well done! We hope you've enjoyed it and are now clear about the difference between used to and would. In the next session, we learn more about the taxi driver who lost his memory. See you there!

Session Grammar

  • Used to and would help us talk about things that happened in the past.

    Would + infinitive without 'to' - Habits
    When I had free time, I would practise guitar.
    Since we were always in a hurry, we wouldn’t stop for tea on Fridays.
    Would you often stay for lunch?

    Used to + infinitive without 'to'- Habits
    Isabel used to sing in a band.
    Pablo didn’t use to drive to work.
    Did John use to study with you?

    Used to + infinitive without 'to' - States
    Bob used to be much shorter.
    I didn’t use to like art.
    Did Wayne use to belong to the debate team?
    Didn’t Margaret use to hate flying?

Session Vocabulary