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  1. Nightmare85's Avatar
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    #1

    Is "used to" really needed here?

    Hey guys,
    Yesterday I was talking to a friend regarding the English language.
    He had to pass an English seminar for his army job.
    Then he gave me this example:
    When I was young I often played football.
    When I was young I often used to play football.


    He said the correct answer was sentence #2, because you are not playing football anymore.
    However, you are not young anymore either.
    I thought maybe the part "When I was young" would make it clear that this period is over, so it wouldn't be necessary to add the "used to".

    By the way, he gave me the hint that often was an important word in that sentence as well.

    What do you think?

    Cheers!

  2. apex2000's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Is "used to" really needed here?

    'Often' is important as it reveals that he was not a once only player, or that there was just one period when he played.'Used to' is not necessary but is quite normal.

  3. 5jj's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Is "used to" really needed here?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare85 View Post
    When I was young I often played football.
    When I was young I often used to play football.
    If the test question simply asked which of these two was correct, then it was a bad question. As appex suggested, both are correct, though there is a difference in emphasis.

  4. engee30's Avatar
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    #4

    Post Re: Is "used to" really needed here?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare85 View Post
    [...] He said the correct answer was sentence #2, because you are not playing football anymore. [...]
    ♥♦♣♠ NOT A TEACHER ♥♦♣♠

    That's why the answer considered as correct was #2; sentence #1 doesn't say explicitly whether or not you still often play football.

  5. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Is "used to" really needed here?

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    ♥♦♣♠ NOT A TEACHER ♥♦♣♠

    That's why the answer considered as correct was #2; sentence #1 doesn't say explicitly whether or not you still often play football.
    Unless he was specifically told to express the idea that he no longer played, then the past simple is also correct.

    If that were not the case, then the use of the past simple would rarely be correct.
    Last edited by 5jj; 30-Jan-2011 at 16:56. Reason: typo

  6. engee30's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Is "used to" really needed here?

    In any army, you are supposed to express your ideas clearly, without leaving your interlocutors in ambiguity. I reckon the test was especially designed for such purposes, to test one's ability to put their ideas into words of explicitness.

  7. 5jj's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Is "used to" really needed here?

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    In any army, you are supposed to express your ideas clearly, without leaving your interlocutors in ambiguity. I reckon the test was especially designed for such purposes, to test one's ability to put their ideas into words of explicitness.
    Then I hope that the question itself was at least phrased fairly.

    As I wrote before: "If the test question simply asked which of these two was correct, then it was a bad question."

    As nightmare wrote: "I thought maybe the part "When I was young" would make it clear that this period is over, so it wouldn't be necessary to add the "used to"."

    There is no question of there being any ambiguity about When I was young I often played football.

  8. apex2000's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Is "used to" really needed here?

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    In any army, you are supposed to express your ideas clearly, without leaving your interlocutors in ambiguity. I reckon the test was especially designed for such purposes, to test one's ability to put their ideas into words of explicitness.
    It does not matter whether this is for army use or otherwise; the responses given by fivejedjon are correct. We who use English all use the same language.

  9. engee30's Avatar
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    #9

    Cool Re: Is "used to" really needed here?

    Quote Originally Posted by apex2000 View Post
    It does not matter whether this is for army use or otherwise; the responses given by fivejedjon are correct. We who use English all use the same language.
    It appears again that I've been misunderstood through my posts by some. Not once in this thread did I claim that fivejedjon was wrong in his opinions. I merely wanted to say that if I had been asked to express something that was the case in the past but no longer exists, in an explicit manner, which might have been the case in that army test, I would definitely have used the form used to. That's the core point I've been trying to make all along. It's obvious to me that the two forms are correct when it comes to talking about someone's activities happening on a regular basis in the past.

  10. 5jj's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Is "used to" really needed here?

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    It appears again that I've been misunderstood through my posts by some. Not once in this thread did I claim that fivejedjon was wrong in his opinions,
    Fair point, but the last few posts were in response to your:
    That's why the answer considered as correct was #2; sentence #1 doesn't say explicitly whether or not you still often play football.
    and:
    In any army, you are supposed to express your ideas clearly, without leaving your interlocutors in ambiguity. I reckon the test was especially designed for such purposes, to test one's ability to put their ideas into words of explicitness.
    The implication was that you thought #2 was correct(and #1 incorrect) and that it was correct because the test was designed to test the clear expression of ideas.
    I merely wanted to say that if I had been asked to express something that was the case in the past but no longer exists, in an explicit manner, which might have been the case in that army test, I would definitely have used the form used to. That's the core point I've been trying to make all along.
    Once again, fair point, but you never actually wrote that.

    It's obvious to me that the two forms are correct when it comes to talking about someone's activities happening on a regular basis in the past.
    Once again, you never actually wrote that.

    I sometimes feel that I may be being a little petty when I question what you write, engee, but I am very aware that this is the 'Ask a Teacher' forum. Many people who read it believe that the answers posted can be taken as the words of an expert. You sometimes write things that can appear to be authoritative pronouncements or, as in this case, appear to cast doubts on something that has been written previously and that is, in fact, correct.

    I accept that you did not write certain things, and I also accept that you did not mean to imply them, but we have to consider the impression the reader may receive. Had you been as clear and explicit in your first post as you were in your last, this thread would have been a little shorter.

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