Find the mistake and correct it

I was doing some questions about "used to" when i saw this question which puzzled me. It said find the mistake and correct it:

1) I would have a white cat .

2) I used to drive to work last year .

If any one saw a mistake in these two sentences , please enlighten me

Thanks in advance

Original Post

Yama, welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

Both of your example sentences are grammatically correct, strictly speaking, but they both sound somewhat unnatural.  The same can be said about some of the other sentences in your post.  May I ask where you are from, and what the source of your questions is?  (Actually, that sounded somewhat unnatural as well, but it makes grammatical sense.)

While it is not incorrect to say "I would have a white cat", I am guessing from your initial statement that the author of your textbook or workbook is expecting something more like "I used to have a white cat", which means something entirely different.  Please help us help you by giving us more specific information.

Also, please use a subject heading that is more specific to the essence of your question.  This helps us when we have to research answers we have given in the past regarding certain subjects.  "Find the mistake" is too broad.

Thanks.

DocV

Welcome to GE, Yama.

May I ask [...] what the source of your questions is? 

DocV, I think Yama's questions must come from some ESL book dealing with past habits where a distinction is made between used to and would. While used to can be used both with dynamic and stative verbs, would can only be used with action verbs:

1.1) I used to have a white cat.

1.2) I used to / would stroke its hair for hours.

As regards example (2), I think its unnaturalness arises from the use of a limited time adverbial. The sentence would sound better, in my opinion, if a more extended, less restrictive time adverbial were used. Otherwise, the past simple would be more suitable:

2.1) I used to drive to work when I lived in the countryside.

2.2) I drove to work every day last year.

Thank you Doc V and Gustavo . Gstavo's guessing was100% true when he said " I think Yama's question must come from some ESL book dealing with past habits where a distinction is made between used to and would ." . I'd like to ask Doc V what you meant by "unnatural " regarding my sentences in the post so that I'd learn from my mistakes .

 

Yama,

To address your question about what is "unnatural", it is often in the ear of the listener, and sometimes there is no other justification but for an educated native speaker to say "this sounds right to me and that does not".  Personally, I hate to resort to that argument.  It's like when a child asks her mother why she has to do something unpleasant and the mother answers "Because I said so!".  So let me try to sort this out.

I was doing some questions about "used to" when i saw this question which puzzled me.

The meaning of the phrase "doing some questions" is unclear to me as such, so it sounds unnatural to me.  My esteemed colleague Gustavo, who is brilliant in his analysis of English grammar even though it is not his first language, has provided the clue to what you might mean to say, that you are actually trying to address exercises in your ESL textbook.  If that's true, just tell us.  It makes things easier for us.  Help us help you.

Your example (1) is a rare construct where I live, but it's easy to understand.  The phrase "want to" can substitute for the single word "would".  The fact that it is unusual does not make it incorrect, even though it might sound "unnatural" to some ears.  Also, even though this might sound awkward to our modern ears, I would that the cat that lives in my house continue to stay with me.

I suppose I deliberately avoided your example (2) because I didn't have a good answer for it at the time.  I like Gustavo's reply.

If any one saw a mistake in these two sentences , please enlighten me

If anyone sees a mistake in these sentences, please let me know.

I hope you see the difference.  I'll be glad to discuss this further if you don't.

Respectfully,

DocV

Yama, I beg your pardon.  I seems that you and I were writing at the same time, as often happens on this forum.

As to your latest question, my answer is that it still doesn't sound right to me.  But since you addressed the question to Gustavo, I hope that he will give his informed opinion.

DocV

Yama posted:

Gustavo ,

 

would it be suitable to replace " used to " with "would" in the second sentence ? 

Unlike "used to," which expresses habit by itself, I think that for "would" to work in the second sentence some adverbial of frequency denoting repetition of the action in the past would be required, for example:

1.3) When I lived in the countryside, I would drive to work every morning.

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