jobachand: "Would" can refer to a habitual action in the past, as well as to a future conditional. E.g. When she was a girl, she would always play soccer. ..meaning she was in the habit of playing soccer. And: She would still play soccer if she had time [present/future conditional].
I wouldn't know how to explain it, but in Spanish this would be "¿Cuándo llegaba el cartero?" which is basically the same, "llegaba" is past meaning "he was arriving". When someone tells you they will come at X time or they always arrive at the same time you can use that construction to ask when they will arrive. It's something close to "when was he supposed to be arriving?"
Not quite. Using "would" in this way implies a repeating action in the past. E.g. "she would make me tea every morning" is the same as "she used to make me tea every morning" or "she made me tea every morning". These things make me glad to be a native English speaker, I appreciate it must be very confusing for non-English speakers.
I answered "when did the mailman arrive" which was accepted but looking at the answer as DL has given it, and reading these comments, I don't think it should have been! My answer would be a one off question (as in, when did he arrive this morning?) while DL's solution is more like a regular occurrence, something Commisario Montolbano would ask (as in, when would he arrive, normally?). Do they actually mean similar things in Italian?
You are all wrong. I'm not a native English speaker but even to me it is obvious that it has to be "use to" in negative sentences or questions. You say "I went to the store." but do you also say "I didn't went to the store." or "Did you went to the store?" NO! So then why would you do it in this case? I'm not trying to be mean here but sometimes I wonder why Americans even think about learning another language when they don't have a firm grasp of their own language.
This is what the Oxford American Dictionary says: 1 The construction used to is standard, but difficulties arise with the formation of negatives and questions. Traditionally, used to behaves as a modal verb, so that questions and negatives are formed without the auxiliary verb do, as in it used not to be like that and used she to come here? In modern English, this question form is now regarded as very formal or awkwardly old-fashioned, and the use with do is broadly accepted as standard, as in did she use to come here? Negative constructions with do, on the other hand (as in it didn’t use to be like that), although common, are informal and are not generally accepted.<pre>
2 There is sometimes confusion over whether to use the form used to or use to, which has arisen largely because the pronunciation is the same in both cases. Except in negatives and questions, the correct form is used to: we used to go to the movies all the time (not we use to go to the movies). However, in negatives and questions using the auxiliary verb do, the correct form is use to, because the form of the verb required is the infinitive: I didn’t use to like mushrooms (not I didn’t used to like mushrooms).</pre>
" I'm not trying to be mean here but sometimes I wonder why Americans even think about learning another language when they don't have a firm grasp of their own language." Wow, way to generalize all Americans the same way. Maybe you should focus on your own learning challenges and not others' difficulties.
cekay1:: DL is an interactive, user driven site. For the most part, as best I can tell, its users are amateurs trying to help themselves acquire a second language and ideally helping others in the process to understand the target language better or their own as native speakers. It serves no useful purpose, unless of course your goal is to offend, even antagonize an entire cultural group, to make the kind of silly broad generalization about Americans that you did. Pitiful.
"When did the mailman use to arrive?" is correct." See here: >http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/used-to
Longman is a well established reliable English Grammar used in both native English speaking countries and worldwide in EFL teaching.
I also checked it on Grammarly with the same result. >https://app.grammarly.com/
jaye16: I'll defer to Longman but to be honest, I'm not buying it. Using examples, without explanation or justification, in which 'use to' instead of "used to" are provided, doesn't make it right. If Longman indeed is used to teaching EFL, then as far as I'm concerned you're going to have students around the world using the phrase incorrectly.
As Longman did not fill the bill I'll present some other sources. I've taught EFL/ESL in the US and around the world for over 40 years.
:Oxford and Cambridge two major universities. MacMillan major language publishing house grammar.ccc.commnet.edu
I think I see the problem. My objection was to saying or writing something like "She use to do X" which I hear and read all the time and which I consider incorrect, rather than "she used to do X' in other words simple past. I wasn't considering a sentence like "Did she use to do X," and wouldn't think of saying "did she used to do X," so maybe we're on the same page after all.
It's true that when you're asking a question in English, the verb usually goes before the subject. For example, "Are you there?" If you're using two verbs, though, the subject goes between the two verbs most of the time. So the sentence would be "When was the postman arriving?" "The postman" is the subject, and the two verbs are "was arriving". Another example would be, "When did you get here?" I hope this helps.
It is because we don't study grammar in English. 'When did the postman arrive' is passato prossimo (I don't know the name in English) and 'when had the postman arrived' is more in the past - note that the first uses arrive (present) and the second arrived (the past participle).
Edit after looking stuff up:
When did the postman arrive (generally / on a regular basis) = imperfect = arrivava.
When did the postman arrive (yesterday) = present perfect / passato prossimo = e arrivato. (accent on the e)
When had the postman arrived = past perfect / trapassato prossimo = era arrivato.
Sorry, you are are getting a bit mixed up and I'm not helping. Passato prossimo is the verb to have or to be plus past participle e.g. Lui e arrivato (can't do the accent) the example you have given is trapassato prossimo. I've looked it up: Passato prossimo =present perfect Trapassato prossimo = past perfect http://italian.about.com/od/verbs/a/aa081005a.htm
I've edited my post above to include what I learnt there.
I have read the discussion here and contributed a bit. I think the big problem is that in English we don't really have an imperfect tense. It seems as though we do by using 'He used to do this' or he was doing' but really it is ok for us to say 'the postman arrived at nine' meaning that he always did this or 'the postman would arrive at' meaning he did this regularly as described by celanba. If duolingo allows all of these its ok. (and its not conditional) These are all different ways we express the imperfect in English.
tehgote: yes and no. If "would" is being used in its conditional form, then yes, they're opposites: one is past, the other present or future conditional, as in "when would the mailman arrive, if he drove a truck instead of walking?" On the other hand, "would" can refer to a PAST factual, habitual action as in "When would the mailman arrive, when you lived on a farm?" Meaning: When would he usually arrive or when was he in the habit of arriving. So in this case 'when did the postman arrive' and 'when would the mailman arrive' are similar since they both refer to past actions. Even the first sentence can refer to an habitual action: "When did the postman arrive when you used to live on a farm?" Hope this helps.
DaGot66: I believe it'd also be "When would the postman arrive" BUT not in the factual sense of "When did he in fact use to arrive? Rather in a conditional sense, e.g. "When would the postman arrive, if he were given more mail to deliver." I'm not sure, but I think that's the difference.
Speaking as a purist, in (British) English I do not like the use of "would" to represent the imperfect. It is really a conditional. It is more natural to just say "when did the postman arrive?", leaving it open and subject to context to determine whether the questioner means on one occasion or habitually.
DaveVelo1: No. Your suggested translation is incorrect because 'arrivava' is the imperfect past tense, not a form of the present. It translates as "When would the postman arrive" referring to a habitual/repetitive act in the past, as in "When would the postman arrive, when you lived in rural Alaska?" Or it'd translate as "When did the postman use to arrive?" -- again as a past habitual event.
Martin...this is used to describe an habitual PAST action, not future. "Would" in the above translation is not a future auxiliary/conditional. It refers to the past and means: "was in the habit of usually doing" whatever action is described. I hope this helps. As for daily usage, yes it's used when talking about things that routinely occurred as a customary action in the past, not a single, one-time event that'd be expressed by the present perfect.
hints leave you with no clear idea as to what they want. When would the mailman arrive, vs when does the mailman arrive. In the USA when asking about the arrival of the mailman, milkman, anyone, we would say/ask when does he arrive. Because when asking 99.99% of the time, we are asking at what time the mailman will show up. We would never say when would. Because when would implies why is the mailman showing up. We know why the mailman is showing up, he has mail to deliver. So there is no reason to ask when would in this situation.
32vld: In this case you're incorrect. The sentence isn't present tense and the 'would arrive' is NOT conditional, so your reasoning's wrong. "when would he arrive" is past tense as in" When you were a child, when would the mailman arrive." You need to learn the difference between "would" as a conditioinal verb form and "would" as a past tense form expressing an habitual action. In this sentence it's the past tense used to express an habitual or repetitive action.
madredomo: Since use of the imperfect suggests a repetitive action, while your sentence suggests a 1-time event, you might want to add a phrase such as "When did the postman as a rule/normally/usually/etc arrive?" Then the habitual nature of the action would be clear.
what in the hell is a mail carrier ffs - i suppose that in the states things have to be made clear as in "horse back riding" instead of just riding a horse- where else would you sit on a horse other than on its back or like "sidewalk" instead of pavement because they have to be instructed to walk on the side of the road. But mail carrier!! Really in the UK we have a Postal Service [generally shortened to the Post] and the people that deliver said post are postmen quite simple really