can I say " I used to smoke for 5 years "?

is it correct?

And if no, which tense should I use?

Should I say "I had smoked for 5 years?"

Thanks a lot.

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    What do you think? What research have you done to try to work this out for yourself? – SamBC Feb 28 '19 at 16:18
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    I used to smoke for five years. is a better version than your second sentence. As used to indicates a habit you used to do in the past but not in the present time anymore. And specifying time/period after it is necessary. – Tasneem ZH Feb 28 '19 at 18:18

I agree with @FumbleFingers. "I smoked for 5 years" is correct, and "I used to smoke for (time period)" is not. "Used to" is implied when you use the past tense - i.e., it is understood that you no longer smoke. Like @FumbleFingers says, "for (time period)" only makes sense if you're describing how long each discrete instance of smoking lasted. Not the case here.

(EDIT - the following paragraph is just intended to show the different meanings indicated by the different tenses - I still think the simple past is correct in this case!)

"I have smoked for 5 years" (present perfect) would tell me that you still smoke now after doing so for 5 years. In other words, using this tense would mean "I used to smoke and continue to this day". This would be in contrast to "I smoked for 5 years" (again, simple past). The connotation of the latter is "I used to smoke but no longer do." I think this is what you're getting at, and therefore you should use the simple past, "I smoked...", as explained in the first paragraph.

| improve this answer | |
  • @EdGrimm my point is that it sounds like Taras Kryvko no longer smokes, and therefore he should use the simple past (as opposed to the present perfect, which would be used to indicate he still does smoke). Maybe I'll edit my answer to make that more clear. – Mixolydian Mar 1 '19 at 3:24
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    It must be past my bedtime, my reading comprehension is apparently shot. Sorry about that. – Ed Grimm Mar 1 '19 at 4:19

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