He would always say hello to me when he saw me in the street.

Is this sentence equal to 'He always said Hello to me when he saw me in the street'? If not how can I write it without 'would'?

  • 2
    Both of these are fine. Another alternative is "He always used to say . . . "
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 23:21
  • 1
    Whenever he saw me in the street he said 'Hello'. Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 23:45
  • 2
    "Would", to me, has a suggestion of past events that won't be repeated, as if he had died. e.g. "He would... but won't any more." Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 0:57
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    @JackO'Flaherty, yes, but to me the simple past makes the same suggestion.
    – Peter
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 3:15
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    @Armen I'm in the middle of the USA. I can't point to supporting information, it's just the way I hear the expression with "would". Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 17:22

1 Answer 1


There's one very small difference: "He would always..." (or similar things like "he always used to") makes a vague or general statement about a tendency. For instance:

"Your honor, the defendant is a kind person. I grew up on his block, and he would always say 'Hello' to me when he saw me in the street."
"Oh really? We have video evidence here that on June 15th he passed you and did not say hello!"
"Come on, you know what I mean! It's a figure of speech! Maybe you found one time when he didn't, but I mean that he usually did."

If I used a construction that omitted "would"—"He always said 'hello' to me"—I might have the same meaning, but the connotation would be just a bit more absolute. I might still mean "usually," but my exact words have now claimed that it happened every time. If someone tried to prove me wrong, I might still claim that they're missing my point, but I might not be so exasperated at them for interpreting my words unreasonably.

  • 1
    Right, and would is almost used to always say.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 18:51
  • @AndyBonner Hi. Thank you for the answer. If I got it right ('would say'- can be 90% of the truth) ('said' - can be 99%-100% of the truth) and for 100% of the truth it is something like 'said every time'? Is it right?
    – Armen
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 19:41

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