Using would for the past

When I lived in London, I would do my shopping late at night

What do you understand from this sentence? You may have learned that “would” is used as a conditional, describing unlikely or hypothetical situations. That’s obviously not the case here, as there is no “if” and a past verb,”lived”.

“Would” can be the past of “will”. Sound strange? Here’s how to use it:

It is possible, then, to use “would” to describe past actions, a little like used to”

The difference between ‘would’ and ‘used to’ is that ‘would’ needs a time reference as the example above, ‘when I lived in London’.

Here are some other examples of would in the past that are very common amongst native English speakers:

My car wouldn’t start this morning
ma voiture ne demarrait pas ce matin

I wanted to go, but she wouldn’t let me
Je voulais aller, mais elle ne m’a pas permis