The Free Dictionary  
mailing list For webmasters
Welcome Guest Forum Search | Active Topics | Members

Used to Options
D00M
Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 5:02:52 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/24/2017
Posts: 1,498
Neurons: 7,144
Hello respected teachers,

Are the following correct?

I used to study Spanish when I was a child.

I used to study Spanish when I was 10 years old.




The custom of speaking is the original and only just standard of any language. Joseph Priestly- Rudiments of EG, 1761.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 5:31:33 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 29,947
Neurons: 174,377
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hi!

That's a very good question . . . Think

I don't think that anyone could really say either of them was incorrect.

However, the first one sounds 'more correct' than the second.

"Study" is a verb which takes time to do. (It is not a 'punctual verb' which only takes an instant to do. "He shot the gun" takes one instant. "He studied Spanish" takes a long time.) Past verb-forms mean slightly different things for these two types of verb.

"Used to" (for this type, a "durational verb") is used when it took a LONG time. It is used with a 'time-frame' which is relatively long and often is rather vague.
"When I was a child" covers maybe ten years - quite long and not very specific.

"When I was ten" is more specific and it is quite a short period (relative to the sixty years since then) so "I studied Spanish when I was ten" sounds much more 'natural'.

*************
If you are interested, for punctual verbs, "used to" implies a repeated/habitual action - whereas the normal past verb only mentions one time (unless the rest of the sentence specifies a larger number).

He used to shoot guns for sport (every Saturday for years at the gun-club).

He shot the gun when the target appeared.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
ozok
Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 8:38:22 AM
Rank: Member

Joined: 7/24/2018
Posts: 85
Neurons: 448


‘Studying’ is rather a big word for a kid of 10.

‘Learning’ sounds more childlike.




just sayin'
D00M
Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 9:05:01 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/24/2017
Posts: 1,498
Neurons: 7,144
Are both the following okay?

I used to try to learn Spanish when I was 10 years old.

I would try to learn Spanish when I was 10 years old.


Which one would you choose and why?


The custom of speaking is the original and only just standard of any language. Joseph Priestly- Rudiments of EG, 1761.
renee talley 1
Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 10:44:22 AM
Rank: Member

Joined: 8/1/2018
Posts: 78
Neurons: 1,928
Speak to the hand Anxious Speak to the hand The choices I used to was way off track. Now I choice making wise decisions used to scare me to be a horrible experience without an end.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 10:47:48 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 29,947
Neurons: 174,377
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hi again.
It would be better to also get the opinion of someone a little more 'academic'.
My vocabulary is a bit biased towards northern, working-class.
I went to Salford University, which is rather different from Oxford and Cambridge - when I was there, there were about twenty students in the 'Humanities and Arts' department and hundreds in the various science departments.

I would not use "would" in that way to describe a continuous action like this in the past.
I understand it and it is totally correct - but I wouldn't use it as it sounds highly formal and a little 'dated' - to me it sounds too 'posh' for normal English.

Like the other sentence - "When I was ten I tried to learn Spanish" sounds normal.

"When I was ten, I used to try to learn Spanish" sounds like something you would start every couple of weeks and then give up (it gives me the idea of a repeated action - the same first lesson done several times during that year).

However, do listen to other opinions, as mine may be biased.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
NKM
Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 11:44:51 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/14/2015
Posts: 4,875
Neurons: 264,619
Location: Corinth, New York, United States
D00M wrote:
Are both the following okay?

I used to try to learn Spanish when I was 10 years old.

I would try to learn Spanish when I was 10 years old.


Which one would you choose and why?

══════════════════════════════════════════════

As DragO says, "I used to try" sounds like trying (unsuccessfully) several times. But it's not something you'd be likely to say.

The second sentence ("I would try …") doesn't seem normal, unless it's in a context that suggests a "past future" connotation.

"I had started learning French when I was eight years old. Later, when I was ten, I would try to learn Spanish."

Users browsing this topic
Guest


Forum Jump
You cannot post new topics in this forum.
You cannot reply to topics in this forum.
You cannot delete your posts in this forum.
You cannot edit your posts in this forum.
You cannot create polls in this forum.
You cannot vote in polls in this forum.

Main Forum RSS : RSS
Forum Terms and Guidelines | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2008-2018 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.