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I have some sentences. Do they mean repetitive actions in the past?

a) When I go to your home everyday and see your door was locked.
​  (Meaning I had gone to my friends home 3 times but it always locked)

b) In his container he carried chemical to destroy it in water.
  (Meaning every time he use his container to carry chemical to destroy it in water.)

c) When there were no races, the animals were rented out for weddings and other functions.
  (Meaning whenever there is race the horses are being given on rent)

Please correct me if I am wrong about the meanings.
What if I use used to/would/being in above sentences instead?

Also, I've come across some web pages where they mention that: Simple Past = Used to
(For example, http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/simplepast.html)

  • I am unable to make sense of statement b. "to destroy it in water" just doesn't compute for me. Maybe, "In his container he carried a chemical in water (e.g., mixed or dissolved in water) to destroy it." – Jim Dec 2 '14 at 7:32
  • Maybe what he means is that he used to carry some chemical in his container to dispose it in water. – v kumar Dec 2 '14 at 9:09
  • Or chlorine for the swimming pool, taking "destroy it" to mean "kill whatever was in the water". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 2 '14 at 20:55
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I've fixed up some of your sentences.

I went to your home every day and saw that your door was locked.

This means repetitive actions in the past, but that's because of the adverbial phrase every day and not because of the verb. If you said yesterday instead of every day, the sentence would mean that you made only one visit.

In his container, he carried a chemical to destroy it in water.

This could mean repetitive actions, but it could just as easily mean a single action. Carried is simple past tense, without habitual aspect. The habitual aspect would have to be inferred from context, not on the basis of the grammar but on the basis of the meanings of the words. (By the way, I'm not sure what it refers to in this sentence. Presumably, it refers to something previously stated. It doesn't seem to refer to anything within the sentence.)

When there were no races, the animals were rented out for weddings and other functions.

This definitely suggests that the animals were rented out repeatedly, but again this derives from the most likely intended meaning of the words, and not strictly from grammar.

How to indicate the same thing using grammar

Here are some examples of how to reword the sentences to exploit English grammar to indicate repeated actions in the past:

I used to go to your home and check that your door was locked.

I would go to your home and check that your door was locked.

The first one is unambiguous. The second one can mean the same as the first, but it can also mean something like considering a plan for the future, like "If you pay me to watch your house, I would go to your home…" In this future-hypothetical reading, there's no clear implication of repetitive action.

In his container, he used to carry a chemical to destroy it in water.

In his container, he would carry a chemical to destroy it in water.

Same remarks as for the previous sentence. Would can mean repeated or habitual action the same as used to, but would can also indicate the conditional mood.

When there were no races, the animals used to be rented out for weddings and other functions.

When there were no races, the animals would be rented out for weddings and other functions.

This time, because of the past-tense were in the clause at the beginning of the sentence, would unambiguously means the same as used to: the animals were rented out repeatedly or habitually.

As you can see, your guess about used to and would was correct. I'm not sure what you had in mind regarding being.

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I think the webpage you mentioned is a very good place to start learning these stuff. It says that you can use the Simple Past tense when you are talking about:

  1. Completed Action in the Past
  2. A Series of Completed Actions
  3. Duration in Past
  4. Habits in the Past
  5. Past Facts or Generalizations

So, you see a simple past sentence: He played the violin. The sentence can mean many things depending on the context. For example :

  • At yesterday's concert, he played the violin.(USE 1/USE 3)
  • He once played violin. Now, he usually plays piano.(USE 4)

If you just say He played the violin then it's unclear. There are many words that you can use to indicate that you are talking about a habit such as: always, often, usually, never, when I was a child, when I was younger, whenever, wherever, etc.

Now, let's come to your question.

(A) When I go to your home every day and see your door was locked.

The tense is wrong as many have already mentioned. go and see in in the present while was locked is in the past. So I will try to write it this way:

(A.0) When I came to your home every day, I saw that your door was locked.

Which sounds quite awkward. I think we don't use every day and when like this.

(A.1) When I came to your home, I saw that your door was locked.

(A.2) Every day, when I came to your home, I saw that your door was locked.

(A.3) Every day I came to your home, I saw that your door was locked.

(A.4) Whenever I came to your home, I saw that your door was locked.

Without any context, (A.1) sounds like one completed action in the past rather than a habit. (A.2), (A.3), and (A.4) sounds fine for me.

(B) In his container he carried chemical to destroy it in water.

I think it's better to say He carried chemicals in his container to dump it in water.

I think the word chemical is better in plural in this context(though I don't know why) and well, we can't destroy chemicals. We can destroy chemical weapons but not chemicals.

Also, prepositional phrase often comes right after what it describes. "In his container he carried chemicals..." might be interpreted as "He is in his container" which doesn't make any sense.

(B.1) He carried chemicals in his container to dump it in water.

(B.2) He often carried chemicals in his container to dump it in water.

(B.3) He used to carry chemicals in his container to dump it in water.

Without any context, (B.1) sounds like one completed action in the past rather than a habit. (B.2) and (B.3) sounds fine for me.

(C) When there were no races, the animals were rented out for weddings and other functions.

This one is fine.

  • I took the liberty of editing the PS out. I prefer to consider myself a learner more than anything else. I've learned a lot of things from this site. I just try to contribute back to the community when I think I can. Thanks for admiring me. :-) – Damkerng T. Dec 9 '14 at 9:53
  • Why did you make "races" singular? – fluffy Dec 10 '14 at 3:24
  • @fluffy I think it sounds better... No? – Santi Santichaivekin Dec 10 '14 at 3:29
  • I don't see the difference, the last sentence sounds fine to me. – fluffy Dec 10 '14 at 7:20
  • Okay, I think I will edit my answer. – Santi Santichaivekin Dec 10 '14 at 7:35
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a) When i went to your home your door was locked.

Your tense in there was wrong. You used the present tense, It should be past.

b) In his container he carried a chemical to destroy it in water.

The tense here is fine. You just used the word "chemical" wrong. It isn't an uncountable noun like "water".

c) This one is fine.

With the first two sentences, there is no way to know whether the action is done repeatedly. That will have to be inferred from the context.

  • But to match the stated meaning in sentence a, it should be, "When[ever] I go to your house, the door is locked." – Jim Dec 2 '14 at 7:29
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You can write the sentences as following to mean repeated actions in the past :(using used to and would)
a) Whenever I went to your house, your door used to (would) be locked.
b) In his container he used to carry (would carry) chemical to destroy it in water.
c) When there were no races, the animals used to (would) be rented out for weddings and other functions.

  • In b), "a/the chemical to destroy it in water" or "chemicals to destroy them in water". – user3169 Dec 2 '14 at 17:35
  • a/the chemical sounds more apt. multiple chemicals in a single container doesn't make much sense. – v kumar Dec 3 '14 at 6:52

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