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    • Join Date: Jun 2008
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    #1

    proper use of "would" in past tense

    Are the sentences below correct usages of the word "would"? If so, what tense would this be called?

    "Almost every day in the summer I would walk through the field and wait for my friend Donna Jean. I would practice my grass blade whistle and watch for her. And when she appeared at the top of the hill, I would run to meet her. She would smile and take my hand and we would walk down the hill and to the creek where we caught tadpoles."

    Thank you!

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: proper use of "would" in past tense

    Habitual past. It's used to describe something that was repeated frequently.

    (Not a teacher)


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #3

    Re: proper use of "would" in past tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Poetess View Post
    Are the sentences below correct usages of the word "would"? If so, what tense would this be called?

    "Almost every day in the summer I would walk through the field and wait for my friend Donna Jean. I would practice my grass blade whistle and watch for her. And when she appeared at the top of the hill, I would run to meet her. She would smile and take my hand and we would walk down the hill and to the creek where we caught tadpoles."

    Thank you!
    Just one small point.

    "proper use of "would" in past tense"

    This isn't 'would' operating as a past tense. In modern English, modals are tenseless.

    It's would operating, as Barb mentioned, to describe an action that was habitual/routine/frequent. We can see that it isn't a past tense because it won't act like one when it's put to the "past tense" test.

    Almost every day in the summer I would walk through the field and wait for my friend Donna Jean. One day, *I would walk around the field to surprise her.*

    The asterisks [* *] denote an ungrammatical sentence. 'would' just can't be used in the manner that a past tense is used.

    Further, would can also be used as "would for the future in the past".

    He failed in his first test as a politician and yet, a mere ten years later he would become the leader of his country.

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