Which one is the correct sentence?

  • She would always call me when we were apart.

  • She always called me when we were apart.


She would always call me when we were apart means that she did it regularly in the past. Geoffrey Leech et al. in English Grammar and Usage describes would in this case as past insistence or refusal, which indicates that she insisted on being in touch with him even though they were apart. It also might indicate something negative for the speaker - he didn't want to be in touch with her anymore or it was too much for him, but she still insisted.

The second sentence She always called me when we were apart just states a fact without any emotional feelings.

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With all due respect to the above comments, I don't see that there is much difference between:

She would always call me when we were apart


She always called me when we were apart

Any nuance -- such as the current status of your relationship to her -- depends entirely on context. For example:

When I was very young. my father was a traveling salesman, and was frequently on the road and away from home. But, no matter how far away he was, he would always call me / always called me right at bedtime to read me the same story.

In this context, whether we use "would always call" or "always called", we have no information whether the father is still alive, or still in communication with the child. All we know is that the narrator is talking about past events. For example, the narrator could continue:

Now that I'm older, and my father is retired, he still calls every evening to read that same story to my own children.

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The use of "would" speaks to probability of making that choice, and therefore "would always call me" may imply that she no longer does. Whereas "always called me" does not talk of the will to do it, just states the fact of past action.

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  • I disagree with the statement on probability. "Would" in this case is just an alternative for 'used to'. – Mr Chasi May 5 '18 at 0:31

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