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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.

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?

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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

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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.

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Comments

Sir
According to your below answer , when will you come and when would you come. " would " indicates less possibility as you may not come..
Can I say.
It would rain tomorrow (without If clause) = it may rain tomorrow (would have slightly strong possibility than may) ?

Example :
I know below sentences are correct..
That would have been Della's car. (guess)
john would be calling (guess)

Can I say
It would rain tomorrow (guess )

Hello sameer,

We don't use would just to guess about the future, but rather in certain contexts when we are talking about the result of an unlikely situation (hypothetical conditionals) or an explanation of something we see (speculation about the present). Without knowing the context of the sentences it's not really possible to say if they are appropriate/correct.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir
According you we also use would in explanation of something we see (speculation about the present). If I see cloud at present then possibly I can say it would rain now?

Hello sameer

I'm sorry, I couldn't find the comment ('below answer') that you were referring to. In any case, 'It would rain tomorrow' is not grammatical if it is used without an 'if' clause.

You could say something like 'There's a good chance it will rain tomorrow' to make a stronger prediction than 'may' or 'might'.

Hope this helps.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

I still need to get to find out the subtle distinctions between so many phrases and use them just like you both teachers in my day to day English speaking. But for now, could you tell me the most basic subtle distinction between, "at night" and "in the night"?

Hi! I would like to know the difference between these sentences
I believe you wouldn't understand the text
I believe you won't understand the text. Thanks

Hello riverolorena67,

The difference between will and would here is one of likelihood. We use will when we think there is a good possibility of the situation occurring and we use would when we think that the situation is hypothetical.

In your context this means that the speaker uses will when they think that the other person will see and read the text. They use would when they think that the other person will not ever see or read the text. Would here implies an if-clause:  I believe you wouldn't understand the text (if you ever saw it).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I m afraid these questions aren't relevant here but still I am asking them to you, Sir.
Question.1:-
The book I gave you was costly.
The book I gave to you was costly.
Which one is correct and why?
Question.2: Can't we you the modal verb 'will' in the following sentence?
I hope he wins the finals.
As many dictionaries say that the verb 'hope' should always take the present tense form of a verb used in its following clause.
Is it so?

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