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Expressing habits

Past habits

We use used to or would to talk about past habits or things that happened repeatedly in the past, but they don’t happen any more.

  • I used to/would smoke.
  • My family and I used to/would go to the beach every summer.

When we use non-action verbs (for example: have, like, be, etc.) to talk about past states that were true in the past, but are not true any more, we can only use used to.

  • I used to have long hair. – I would have long hair.
  • She used to be very shy. – She would be very shy.

We can also use the past simple with a frequency adverb to talk about a past habit.

  • We always went to Galicia for the summer holidays.

Present habits

For present habits, we must use the present simple with usually or normally.

  • I usually get up late at weekends.
  • My son normally has cereal for breakfast.

Remember that used to is only used to talk about past habits that happened repeatedly in the past, but they don’t happen any more.

DO NOT use use to to talk about present habits or routines.

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