Ok, This site says

We use would to refer to typical habitual actions and events in the past. This is usually a formal use and it often occurs in stories (narratives):

I had a friend from Albany, which is about 36 miles away, and we would meet every Thursday morning and she would help us.

Then he would wash; then he would eat his toast; then he would read his paper by the bright burning fire of electric coals.

However, it also says:

We can’t use would in this way to talk about states. In these cases, we say used to instead of would:

I used to live in Melbourne when I was a kid.

Not: I would live in Melbourne when I was a kid.

So, what does "to talk about states" mean?

  • When they say "talk about states" I think they mean states of being, and I think you may be confusing that with "states" as in "geographical divisions".
    – stangdon
    Feb 8, 2017 at 0:29

1 Answer 1


In this context, a state is a sitution that exists without change for a period of time. If you live in New York, that's a state. If you visit New York regularly, that's not a state: it's a series of separate events which you could describe as a habitual action.

I used to live in New York - state
I used to visit New York regularly - habitual action
I would visit New York regularly - habitual action

As you can see, used to can be used about both states and habitual actions, but would can only be used about habitual actions.

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