1. A few years ago, they would practise cricket over there, but now they don't.

  2. I used to go to my sister's to play chess, but now I don't.

I would like to know why it is not they used to practise because the habits was in the past, this habit is over


"They would practise cricket" is perfectly acceptable.

An alternative would be "they practised cricket".

The difference between "would practise" and "practised" is that there is an implication of frequency.

They would practise cricket

This implies that practising cricket is something that they would do, perhaps only infrequently, as there is no inference of regularity.

They practised cricket

In the context you gave this sounds more like cricket was a full-time occupation for them, although to stress this is just an inference.

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  • yes but "used to be" could be acceptable – user5577 May 10 '18 at 15:02

Both used to and would can be used for describing repeated actions in the past. However, only used to is usually used to (sorry):

  1. refer to the past states (e.g. I used to own a house, because the ownership is not an action, but a state).
  2. refer to the regular and important habitual actions (e.g. I used to smoke, because that was my everyday habit).

Since practising cricket from your example is an action, both would and used to should be OK there. Maybe would is a little more suitable because their habit of practising was not that regular and important - and it probably wasn't, considering that they were not able to keep it up.

My primary source was Practical English Usage, 3rd ed. (Oxford University Press, 2005) by Michael Swan.

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