In a test there are such sentences:

"When I was little, I shared a bedroom with my sister Catherine. As I was eight years her junior, I obviously
(used to go / would go) to bed earlier than her."

The test says that the only correct answer is "used to go".

I've read in the rules that we can use would "to talk about repeated past actions". Also the rules say that "would should not be used unless it has already been established that the time frame is in the past, while used to does not require this" (http://www.learnersdictionary.com/qa/the-difference-between-used-to-and-would).

But doesn't the phrase "When I was little" set a time reference? Or it's not related to the second sentence? Or it should be in the same sentence? Or maybe there is another rule I missed there?

My question is: can we use would go there, and, if not, why?

  • 1
    Oftentimes the "right" answer is based on what the teacher was recently teaching. In your example, I would have no problem using either. Also, keep in mind that the editor on Merriam Webster saying something is "awkward and ungrammatical" is just her way of saying "to me it doesn't sound right." Of course there are things that are definitely "wrong" such as saying "I are have a headache," but many things are flexible. A good teacher or test provider will see that the question is ambiguous and change it. Mar 26, 2019 at 4:24
  • Personally, I would actually tend to use would more. But both are perfectly acceptable. Unless there is something that's hasn't been made clear, the only objection here is based on subjective style, not on grammar. Mar 26, 2019 at 5:06
  • I think either word is fine, though when would is used to describe a past habitual action, an adverb like obviously usually comes before it - so I think used to go is a better answer, but I also think it's a bit unfair to mark would as wrong.
    – user339660
    Mar 26, 2019 at 10:49
  • @Minty, when you said "an adverb like obviously usually comes before it [would]", did you mean "Obviously I would"? The original phrase in question was "I obviously would go to bed earlier". Mar 26, 2019 at 16:00
  • @Ernest yes, sorry I said before when I meant after. For me As I was eight years her junior, I would obviously go to bed earlier than her is the natural word order.
    – user339660
    Mar 26, 2019 at 16:45


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