How do you say 'used to be' (as in the past) in Spanish?
what i'm trying to say is 'manchester used to be very industrial' but i need help with saying 'used to be'. how would it be said?
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Used to be is translated as solía ser. Manchester solía ser muy industrial.
You would use the imperfect tense. This simply means a continuing action in the past. Example: Hablar=to speak; hablaba=I was speaking/I used to speak. You can go into the dictionary on this site and type in different verbs, scroll to the bottom, and see the conjugations. There are other rules, but this is a start.
soler - verb, used to say 'to be accustomed to...'.
In the past tense it means 'used to...'.
Check the conjugation!
Suelo pasar las vacaciones a la orilla del mar. - I am accustomed to spend holidays at the seaside.
Solía pasar las vacaciones a la orilla del mar. - I used to spend holidays at the seaside.
The Engish Modal "used to" is formed in Spanish either by using the verb "soler" or by conjugating the verb itself.
I used to live in London - Solía vivir en Londres.
Vivía en londres.
I used to speak Danish - Solía hablar danés
I agree with Beatrice that in the example in the question, the imperfect tense would be used.
Manchester era muy industrial. I cannot see Soler being applicable in this example as it is used more to indicate being accustomed to being or doing something. A simple test is to see if you can substitute accustomed to' for 'used to'. If that sounds ridiculous, use the Imperfect tense. I can't see that Manchester can be the subject of the verb SOLER at all.
I used to be a fireman ... (yo) era bombero
I used to play tennis every week ... Solía jugar al tenis todas las semanas.
Clearly to say "I was accustomed to being a fireman" to mean "I was a fireman" is not right.
"I used to live in London" meaning that London was my normal residence, I would say "Vivía en Londres'. I don't think SOLER would apply in this instance.
However, I would be very happy for somone to correct me and explain how it could be as I too am still climbing the ladder!!
I cannot see Soler being applicable in this example as it is used more to indicate being accustomed to being or doing something. A simple test is to see if you can substitute accustomed to' for 'used to'. If that sounds ridiculous, use the Imperfect tense.
According to the RAE (Nueva gramática de la lengua española) the verb phrase, "soler + infinitive" denotes the repetition of an event or a state of things. Moreover, it is likened to such adverbial expressions as "generalmente, por lo común y otras similares."
It goes on to say the following:
En contextos genéricos introduce generalizaciones que se aplican a la mayor parte de los miembros de un conjunto, como en
Los municipios de esta zona suelen ser pobres. [The towns in this area are generally poor].
Real Academia Española © Todos los derechos reservados
Perhaps from this last bit, it might be clearer now how "solía ser" is being used in the expression "Manchester solía ser muy industrial" to make a generalization about the way Manchester used to be. In any case both Usarenzo (who originally made the statement) and Gekkosan (who made no objection to this usage) are native Spanish speakers. As such, I would presume it fair to say that they probably have at least a passing familiarity with how the expression tends to be applied.
I used to be = solía o acostumbraba
I used to be a policeman = (Yo) Solía ser un policía
I used to be there every morning = (Yo) Acostumbraba/solía estar allí todas las mañanas.
to be= ser o estar.
Following on from Izanaonis last post I have checked this with a native Spanish speaker from Columbia who affirms that solia ser would be used in this context:
This is her translation from the copied and pasted sentence given here which I gave her in Skype: La ciudad de Manchester solía ser muy industrial