From a lesson named (WOULD as a past tense), I quote the following:

[You cannot use WOULD for a past state or things that lasted a long time. "I USED TO smoke" that's correct, but you cannot say "I WOULD smoke"]. (end of quotation)

My question is: (smoke) is an action verb (not stative) refers to a past habit; why it can't be used with "WOULD" as stated above in the example given.

Thanks in advance.

2 Answers 2


"Would" has a range of meanings, and in a simple sentence

I would smoke

is ambiguous. The likely meaning is a conditional

I would smoke (if I had matches)

But given the right context, you can get the past habit sense

Every morning, John would smoke his pipe in the garden.

On the other hand "used to" only has one meaning. So a sentence with "used to" will be less ambiguous


When you want to refer the habit in general, you use 'used to'. And, you know that!

I used to smoke (smoking was my habit/addiction in the past)

And, you can also use would to show habit. But then, it would be specific.

He would smoke when in depression

So, when you use would, it may require more context, IMO.


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