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    #1

    used to have - had

    We ---- some poplar trees in the backyard , but they fell down.

    a) used to have
    b) had

    Is there a difference between a and b? Which would you use here?


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
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    #2

    Re: used to have - had

    'had', being the Simple Past tense, indicates 'a fact' - a person either has one, or doesn't/I had one or I didn't have one.

    'used to have' introduces the idea of 'having for a period of time'.

    So - I had a bad fall from that horse.
    versus
    I used to have a Ford Whizzer, but I traded it in on a Mazda Whazoo.
    (Indicates ownership for a period of time.)

    I used to have trouble with my swing, until I took some lessons with Tiger Woods.

    or

    used to have bad headaches - had them over a period of time before, say, a new drug got rid of them for me
    compare
    I had a headache. (A one-off and took an aspirin).

    In your sentence, you are referring to the fact that one day they were there, the next blown down - so: 'had'
    BUT: if you were feeling nostalgic and felt like you had lost trees that you had grown up with and loved (kind of thing!), then 'used to have'
    In your sentence, it depends on the speaker's point of view. Is he a hard-nose realist, or a softy at heart?
    (The words people choose to express their view of the world can be very revealing about their nature and mentality, and they often don't realize it!)
    Last edited by David L.; 22-Mar-2009 at 14:03.

  1. Monticello's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: used to have - had

    Quote Originally Posted by Trex View Post
    We ---- some poplar trees in the backyard , but they fell down.

    a) used to have
    b) had

    Is there a difference between a and b? Which would you use here?
    Hi Trex,

    In the context of your sentence, "used to have" and "had" provide virtually the same meaning. "[U]sed to have" provides emphasis of the fact that you once owned some poplar trees in the backyard that are now gone.

    Do you want the emphasis? Then choose a); otherwise, b).
    Last edited by Monticello; 22-Mar-2009 at 15:26.

    • Member Info
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    #4

    Re: used to have - had

    Thank you David L. and Monticello.

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