You are here

'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.

Beliefs

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.

Willingness

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

GapFillDragAndDrop_MTYzNzQ=

will and would 2

MultipleChoice_MTYzNzU=

will and would 3

GapFillTyping_MTYzOTk=

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

GapFillDragAndDrop_MTY0MDA=

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

GapFillDragAndDrop_MTY0MDE=

Expressions with would 2

GapFillTyping_MTY0MDI=

Comments

Hi ,
What should be used when we imagine the situation in present and future?
As we know "would" is used for past hypothetical. Can we use it for present or future hypothetical too??

Hello Rsb

In most cases, 'would have' + past participle is the form we use to speak about a past hypothetical action, and 'would' + base form is used to speak about a present or future hypothetical.

I'd suggest you have a look at our Conditionals 1 and 2 pages, where you can see more examples of 'would' and 'would have' used in this way.

Hope this helps.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi
"I would blame it partly on the fact that he's not very reliable."
please could you tell me the usage of "would" in this sentence? why is it used here?
thanks a lot

Hi atya

I'm afraid I can't really say without knowing the context, but it could be, for example, that I'm giving someone a recommendation, or making a hypothesis about an imaginary situation (e.g. if someone asked me why customers are complaining about service).

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello atya

Thanks, that's very helpful. I'd say that it's a hypothetical statement that is part of an implied second conditional. Although it's not stated, what you seem to be saying is something like 'If I had to say why it happened, I would blame it ...' The 'if'-statement ('If I had to say why it happened') is implied rather than explicitly stated. 

I hope you manage to reconnect with your cousin.

Best wishes

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

hi,
is would always used to denote past tense or can it also be used to denote present in some sentences

Hello Aditya Nair

As is explained above, 'would' has many different uses and can be used to refer to different times or even times that, in a sense, don't exist -- for example, hypothetical or imaginary times. It is also often used to make requests (e.g. 'I would like a coffee, please'), which refers to your wishes in the present.

As you can see, modals verbs can be used to mean many different things.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear teachers, recently I read this sentence and I wonder the use of "would" in it:

I would you to start our lesson with a speech.

Usually "would" is followed by a verb, e.g. would like. Is this way of using "would" common and if yes, when do I use expressions like this?

Hello anna from germany

It looks to me as if the writer left out the word 'like' ('would like you to start'). As it is, the sentence is not correct, so please don't take it as an example!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Can "Would" may use as a possibility? like in this sentence" Beetoven displayed flashes of the creative imagination that would eventually reached further than any composer's before or since." how would is used? please clarify me.

Pages