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I would like to know if this sentence is correct :

When I was in high school , one of my friends would get a date every single day, all he had to do was just show his wallet.

I don't want a formal English version, just an American common way to say it because I won't actually write it, I will just talk but I want it to make sense.

By the way, can I say "all he would do was just show his wallet" too? I don't wan't to change the meaning of what I'm trying to say.

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closed as off-topic by Em1, jimsug, Chenmunka, Hellion, oerkelens Jul 9 at 11:21

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That sentence is correct, and you could indeed use 'would' as you have suggested. –  user8543 Jul 8 at 13:54
    
@user8543 which one sounds better? –  martin4567 Jul 8 at 13:56
    
Neither, they both sound fine –  user8543 Jul 8 at 14:50
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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Your sentence is fine and natural. Changing had to to would is also natural, but it does change the meaning slightly:

  • The original, all he had to do (which might be paraphrased as ‘the only thing he was required to do’) emphasizes that no further effort was necessary.

  • The rewrite, all he would do, loses this particular emphasis—it simply reports the fact that showing his wallet is all he did do. In fact, you could also communicate this meaning with a simple past: ...all he did was just show his wallet.

There’s also a possible rewrite in the first clause. In the dialect spoken where I went to high school, would was replaced by used to (‘useta’):

When I was in high school one of my friends used to get a date every single day ...

There’s no difference of meaning or emphasis there, just a dialectal preference for useta in contexts like this.

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Your sentence is correct and would sound natural in conversation. Changing "had to" to "would" won't change the meaning significantly.

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Technically, this is a run-on sentence. You have two clauses each of which is a complete sentence on its own: "When I was in high school, one of my friends would get a date every single day" and "all he had to do was just show his wallet". Slapping them together like this is called a "comma splice" and is incorrect. You should either break it into two sentences, connect them with a semi-colon, or add a conjunction:

  1. When I was in high school, one of my friends would get a date every single day. All he had to do was just show his wallet.

  2. When I was in high school, one of my friends would get a date every single day; all he had to do was just show his wallet.

  3. When I was in high school, one of my friends would get a date every single day, as all he had to do was just show his wallet.

Of course in spoken language the difference between a comma and a period or semi-colon is hard to identify precisely.

Also, "all he had to do" and "just" is a shade redundant. I'd probably say either "all he had to do was show his wallet" or "he just showed his wallet". But that's getting nit-picky.

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