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'will' and 'would'

Level: beginner

We use will:

  • to express beliefs about the present or future
  • to talk about what people want to do or are willing to do
  • to make promises, offers and requests.

would is the past tense form of will. Because it is a past tense, it is used:

  • to talk about the past
  • to talk about hypotheses (when we imagine something)
  • for politeness.


We use will to express beliefs about the present or future:

John will be in his office. (present)
We'll be late. (future)
We will have to take the train. (future)

We use would as the past of will, to describe past beliefs about the future:

I thought we would be late, so we would have to take the train.


We use will:

  • to talk about what people want to do or are willing to do:

We'll see you tomorrow.
Perhaps Dad will lend me the car.

  • to talk about typical behaviour, things that we often do (because we are willing to do them):

We always spend our holidays at our favourite hotel at the seaside. We'll get up early every morning and have a quick breakfast then we'll go across the road to the beach.

We use would as the past tense of will:

  • to talk about what people wanted to do or were willing to do in the past:

We had a terrible night. The baby wouldn't go to sleep.
Dad wouldn't lend me the car, so we had to take the train.

  • to talk about typical behaviour, things that we often did (because we were willing to do them) in the past:

When they were children they used to spend their holidays at their grandmother's at the seaside. They'd get up early every morning and have a quick breakfast. Then they'd run across the road to the beach.

Promises, offers and requests

We use I will or We will to make promises and offers:

I'll give you a lift home after the party.
We'll come and see you next week.

We use Will you … ? or Would you … ? to make requests:

Will you carry this for me, please?
Would you please be quiet?

will and would 1


will and would 2


will and would 3


Level: intermediate

Hypotheses and conditionals

We use will in conditionals to say what we think will happen in the present or future:

I'll give her a call if I can find her number.
You won't get in unless you have a ticket.

We use would to make hypotheses:

  • when we imagine a situation:

It would be very expensive to stay in a hotel.
I would give you a lift, but my wife has the car today.

  • in conditionals:

I would give her a call if I could find her number.
If I had the money, I'd buy a new car.
You would lose weight if you took more exercise.
If he got a new job, he would probably make more money.
What if he lost his job? What would happen then?

We also use conditionals to give advice :

Dan will help you if you ask him.

Past tenses are more polite:

Dan would help you if you asked him.

will and would: hypotheses and conditionals


See also: Verbs in time clauses and conditionals

Level: beginner

Expressions with would

We use:

  • would you…, would you mind (not) -ing for requests:

Would you carry this for me, please?
Would you mind carrying this?
Would you mind not telling him until tomorrow?

  • would you like ..., would you like to ...  for offers and invitations:

Would you like another drink?
Would you like to come round tomorrow?

  • I would like …, I'd like … (you)(to) ... to say what we want or what we want to do:

I'd like that one, please.
I'd like to go home now.

  • I'd rather… (= I would rather) to say what we prefer:

I'd rather have the new one, not the old one.
I don't want another drink. I'd rather go home.

  • I would thinkI would imagine, I'd guess to give an opinion when we are not sure or when we want to be polite:

It's very difficult, I would imagine.
I would think that's the right answer.

Expressions with would 1


Expressions with would 2



Hello Rsb,

Start is an example of an ergative or labile verb. This is a verb which can be used both transitively and intransitively:



The LearnEnglish Team


I will suspend you.

You will suspend.

Is "suspend" here labile verb?

Hello Rsb

No, 'suspend' is not an ergative verb -- it is only transitive. In your first sentence, it is clearly active. I'm afraid that the second sentence is not correct in standard British English.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Sir ,
If I say "you will be suspended" (passive) here suspend is not an intransitive verb????

Hello Rsb,

If suspended is a verb then it is being used as part of a passive construction (be + past participle) and so it cannot be an intransitive verb. Intransitive verbs have no object and so cannot be used to form passives.


You could also see suspended as an adjective complement (be + adjective).


As it stands, without any other context, it is ambiguous whether this is a passive construction or an adjective complement. It's also unimportant. Nothing changes in terms of the meaning, however you choose to label the item.



The LearnEnglish Team


Overall, since passive form always begins with the "direct object" so verb (3rd form) in the passive construction can't be intransitive as intransitive verbs have no objects.

Hi sir,

Die, sit, laugh, cry, go, etc. These are the verbs which are only intransitive.

Do we have some example of verbs which are only transitive??

Hi Rsb,

The majority of verbs in English are transitive. You can use any dictionary to check a verb, as this is one of the pieces of information included in each entry.

We don't have a list of transitive verbs on the site but you should be able to find such lists quickly with an internet search.



The LearnEnglish Team

Ok sir!

Sir, please let me know
Separate and undress are both labile verbs here and also represent an adjective???
1. He separated the car from the tunnel. (Transitive)

2. The couple separated after 25 years of marriage.(intransitive)

3. The couple got separated after 25 years of marriage.(separate an adjective compliment)

3. He undressed me in a minute.(transitive)
4. He undressed with in a minute. (intransitive)
5. He got undressed with in a minute.(undress an adjective)


The couple separated after 25years of marriage.(intransitive verb)

Is subject 'the couple' performing an action on itself ? Could u explain me pls