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Used to/would – Past habit and states
This is a lesson plan for intermediate students to practice “used to” and “would” to talk about past habits and states using videos and conversation.
Download the lesson plan and student’s worksheet here:
Warmer: 2 truths and a lie, write three sentences about yourself using “used to”, 2 true and 1 lie. Try to write 2 with state verbs and 1 with an action verb like this:
- I used to have shoulder length hair.
- I used to dance ballet when I was a child.
- I used to be a builder before I was a teacher.
What does used to mean here?
A past state or habit which is not true now.
What are the negative and interrogative forms?
I used to dance ballet.
I didn’t use to dance ballet.
Did you use to dance ballet?
Drill pronunciation: weak “to” in “used to” and the “ed” in “used” is not pronounced.
Remember: Used to only exists in the past, to talk about present habit we use the present simple with adverbs of frequency.
I usually/normally/tend to go to the gym twice a week.
“Would” can replace “used to” in one of the three sentences at the top of the page with exactly the same meaning. In which sentence is would possible?
- I would/used to dance ballet when I was a child.
We can use “would” with the same meaning as “used to” only when we’re talking about past actions or habits not when we’re talking about states.
When I was at uni I would/used to get up at 11am. (get up = action/habit)
When I was a child I would/used to have blonde hair. (have = state)
Look at the following sentences, decide if we can only use “used to” or if “would” is also possible.
- When I lived in Japan I would/used to eat sushi every day.
- When I was at school we used to/would play hopscotch in the playground.
- When I was a kid I didn’t use to/wouldn’t like olives.
- My dad used to/would have a big green land rover.
- He used to/would drive it through the forest on bumpy tracks.
- When I was a teenager I used to/would love heavy metal music, now it’s too loud for me.
Watch the video and make sentences about it.
Arnold used to be a bodybuilder. He would lift weights all day. He used to be the governor of California.
- What games did you use to play when you were a child?
- Where did you use to go on holiday?
- Are there any foods or drinks that you used to hate when you were young that you like now?
- What did you use to look like when you were a teenager?
- What hairstyle did you use to have?
- What clothes did you use to have?
- Were you badly behaved at school? What bad things did you use to do?
- What did you use to do at the weekends?
- What did you use to do at Christmas?
- How has the place where you grew up changed in your lifetime?
There used to be a (park/playground etc.)
Students write a composition detailing all of the things that they used to do when they were younger and explaining why they don’t do them anymore.