We use will:

  • to talk about the future – to say what we believe will happen
  • to talk about what people want to do or are willing to do
  • to make promises and offers

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 – things that are imagined rather than true.
  • for politeness.

Beliefs

We use will

  • to say what we believe will happen in the future:

We'll be late.
We will have to take the train.

We use would as the past tense of will:

  • to say what we believed would happen:

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

Offers and promises

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

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

Willingness

  • 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.

We use would as the past tense of will:

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

We had a terrible night. The baby wouldn’t go to sleep. He kept waking up and crying.
Dad wouldn’t lend me the car, so we had to take the train.

  • to talk about something that we did often in the past because we wanted to do it:

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

Conditionals

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

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 talk about hypotheses, about something which is possible but not real:

  • to talk about the result or effect of a possible situation:

It would be very expensive to stay in a hotel.

  • in conditionals with words like if and what if. In these sentences the main verb is usually in the past tense:

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 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.

Phrases with would:

  • 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 that?

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

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

  • 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 that one.
I’d rather go home now.

  • 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.

 

 

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

Which sentence is correct?
1. Knocking down the museum would prevent that entirely.
2. Knocking down the museum will prevent that entirely.

Hello Menna Amin,

Both of these are possible and which is correct depends on the context. The first sentence describes a hypothetical situation (the knocking down is unlikely) while the second describes a real possibility.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Here is a video explaining WOULD in a different way.
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Hello kuknisti,

Thanks for your goodwill, but I'm afraid we don't publish links to most other sites, simply because we are too small a team to be able to check them thoroughly.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hello sir,
which of these sentences is correct if i want to imply a mere possibility(i don't know for sure) about the government's capability of passing the bill,but at the same time i know that they surely won't?:1)they could pass this bill but i don't think they will.
2)they could pass this bill but i don't think they would
3)they could pass this bill but i don't think they won't
4)they could pass this bill but i don't think they wouldn't

Hello magicspeechqwerty,

Sentence 1 is closest to expressing what you describe. Since they have so many different uses, modal verbs can sometimes be ambiguous, so if you want to be more precise in communicating only one meaning, you're probably better off not using them. For example, you could say what you described above or something like 'It's possible they'll be able to pass the bill, but I'm sure they won't'.f

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Teachers
I wanna ask a question please about " would is the past tense of will"
for example
if i traveled to liverpool by plane but i wanted to travel by ship but i didn't find tickets
Is this sentence true ??
I would travel to Liverpool by plane but i didn't find tickets

Hello MoHa-Mo,

Yes, that sentence is fine, provided the trip has not yet happened (and so it is still theoretically possible for you to go by plane, if unlikely). If the trip has happened, and can no longer change, then we would say 'would have travelled'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for replying me
But I mean that I have already traveled by ship but I wanted to travel by plane so which is true
Saying #I would have traveled to Liverpool by plane but I didn't find tickets
Or #I would travel to Liverpool by plane but I didn't find tickets

Hello MoHa-Mo,

If the hourney has already taken place then the correct form would be 'I would have travelled...'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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