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 tomorrow?
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

Dear sir

"She would visit her mom tommorow"
Can it mean: she likes/tends to visit her mom tommorow??

Suppose that I'm soon going to watch a movey, but my friend asked me to go with him somewhere, so can I refuse his request by saying: I would hate to miss the movey??
Other hand, can I accept his request by saying: I would hate to miss the movey, I'm coming with you though ??

Hello Yasser Azizi,

It's hard to say what the sentence means without a clear context. The most likely meaning is an implied hypothetical: she would visit her mom if she had the time (but she does not). The word 'tomorrow' suggests a single action on a particular date, whereas 'tends' would suggest typical behaviour, so there is an inconsistency there.

A lot of what we say in conversation takes its meaning from the context. When talking to a friend the sentence 'I'd hate to miss the movie' could well mean that you can't go with him. To accept you could say 'I was looking forward to the movie but I'll come with you (since you've asked me)'. 

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
I have been reading the comments about the word 'WOULD' and it is really a confusing word for me.
I just want to know that do we use second conditional for possible and impossible or unlikely situation in the present or future depending on context?

Hi Farooq,

That's right: we can use the [if + past... (then) would + base verb] to talk about hypothetical situations in the present or future. Other modal verbs can be used instead of 'would', but this depends upon the meaning intended.

You can read more about conditional structures on this pagethis page and this page.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hi...I would like to know if this sentence is correct.... he said, "my son would leave to mumbai tomorrow".......or it will be... he said"my son will leave to mumbai tomorrow."......please help me....and please describe why one of them is correct.

Hello soumya,

If your son is definitely leaving then 'will' is the correct form. 'Would' here would be used only if leaving is unlikely or impossible because of something else, making the sentence a conditional describing something not true, impossible or very unlikely. For example:

My son will leave for mumbai tomorrow - he is definitely going.

My son would leave for Mumbai tomorrow if he had enough money - he does not have enough money and so is not leaving.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi
What about this way of using would ? Or which grammar above explain this
" I'm sure your mum and dad WOULD be pleased we're giving you all healty food "

Hello Rezaya,

The sentence you ask about has an implied second conditional, which is used to talk about something that is not real. In other words, the sentence is understood to mean '[if they knew it] your mum and dad would be pleased we're giving you healthy food'.

By the way, our Conditionals 1 page has more about the second conditional if you want to know more about it.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Friends,

I was wondering if you could let me know which sentence is correct ?

1- if kids were to take all their relevant decisions, there would be a heterogeneous society in which, everybody (puts his/her) first.

2- if kids were to take all their relevant decisions, there would be a heterogeneous society in which, everybody will put his/her interests first.

Is it possible to use 'will' as it used in the second sentence after would ? and what is the relevant grammar ? Is it possible to do not use the word 'interests' or not ?

thanks

Hello bany,

The verb form to use here is the past subjunctive, which is identical in form to the past simple ('put'). This is because you're speaking about a hypothetical situation -- in such situations 'would' and past subjunctive forms are used. 'will' is not correct in such a context.

The sentence wouldn't make sense if you removed 'interests', but you could change it to say 'himself/herself first' or 'themselves first' instead.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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