Unit 5.1

Past Habits with Would + Zero Infinitive

Introduction

The main function of  would + zero infinitive is to talk about our repeated actions in the past (past habits).

Form

We find would in these three forms: affirmative, negative and interrogative.

Affirmative

Its structure, in the affirmative form, is:
Subject + would + zero infinitive + …

Negative

Its full structure, in the negative form, is:
Subject + would not + zero infinitive + …

Negative short form is wouldn’t:
Subject + wouldn’t + zero infinitive + …

Interrogative

Its structure, in the interrogative form, is:
Would + subject + zero infinitive + …?

Example

  • I would travel on national holidays.
  • I wouldn’t travel on national holidays.
  • Would I travel on national holidays?
  • My interns would work hard.
  • My interns wouldn’t work hard.
  • Would my interns work hard?

Use

We use would + zero infinitive only when we talk about things that happened in the past but do not happen anymore.

Summary

The main function of would + zero infinitive is to talk about our past habits that do not happen anymore.

We find would in three forms:

  • affirmative: we start with the subject of the sentence followed by would and a verb in the zero infinitive form and the rest of the sentence.
  • negative: we start with the subject of the sentence followed by wouldn’t or would not and a verb in the zero infinitive form and the rest of the sentence.
  • interrogative: we start with would followed by the subject of the sentence and the verb in the zero infinitive form and the rest of the sentence (the sentence ends with a question mark).

For example:
— Affirmative: “I would go to the gym every day.”
— Negative: “I wouldn’t go to the gym every day.”
— Interrogative: Whould I go to the gym every day?
♦ “I used to go to the gym every day.”
= We can also use the structure used to to talk about things that happened in the past but don’t happen anymore.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.


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