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.


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.


  • 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.


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.






Dear Sir,
I have problem with a few sentences and use of will/would. (Martinett, Thompson)
1.Do you think You would be able to look after Tim for a week? -we are talking about the future why then we cannot use will instead . I do not understand use of would in that sentence.
2.I 've just heard of a job that would exactly suit him. - can we use will instead? Why would is the answer?
3.I would be grateful if you would tell me whether you supply sheets. -first part sounds as politeness , but I do not understand usage of would tell.
4. If You know his address I would be grateful if You would tell me.
5. Would I be able to travel without a car? Is is a hypothetical question ?can we use will?
6. i would be grateful if you would ask your quests to leave more quietly-I do not understand usage of second would in the sentence.
7. Would Thursday afternoon suit you? Tom would be able to do you at 4- again can I use will in the first sentence and why in second sentence there is would-we are talking indeed about the future.

I would be very grateful for Your help as I am so confused :( and I'd like to understand the difference in full for my coming exam.
Thank You in advance,

Hello Natalie,

I'm afraid I can't go into each of the seven instances you ask about, as our main purpose here is to help users with the materials directly on our site, but I'll explain 1 and 2 for you.

In 1, 'would' is used interpersonally, which means that it is a polite form. Often, less direct forms are preferred in polite contexts. For example, just as 'Would you like a coffee?' is a more polite form of 'Do you want a coffee?', here 'would' (and, in fact, 'do you think') is used as more indirect forms of 'Can you look after Tim?'

In 2, 'will' doesn't work, as the sentence is about a hypothetical situation. This is why 'would' is most appropriate here.

If you have one that you want to ask us about, please let us know which. Alternatively, you might want to consider taking a class at a British Council centre in Poland, where your teacher could help you in much more detail with all your questions.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk,

Thank You very much for the big help. I will strongly consider taking some classess either with You or with the institution You recommended. Can I ask You how Your website works? I have seen some courses but can You do individual lessons as well? I would be grateful for reply,
Thank You,

Hello natalie23,

LearnEnglish is a website which is free to use and which provides original materials to help learners of English, as well as to increase knowledge of British culture and history. We do not organise lessons on the site, however; these are done in British Council Teaching Centres. To find a class with the British Council please use the link that Kirk provided.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank You Peter- I will do that and I will use your webiste as well- its is absolutely great!

Best regards,

These people (can) contribute effectively to the economy, because healthy workers (could) become more productive. Furthermore, having more aged people would provide more jobs, since there (would) be more retirement homes.

tis the use of would,could and can correct in this sentence?
if not why?

Hello mohammedrefat1993,

Welcome to LearnEnglish!

Without knowing the broader context it is not possible to answer this question with certainty. It appears that you are mixing a real possibility (can contribute) with an unlikely or impossible possibility (could become), which would require an unusual context. However, it is possible, in the right context.

Please note that the role of the team here at LearnEnglish is to provide help with the material on our pages rather than to check pieces of writing or tasks from outside. Generally, we do not check such things for users - if we tried then we would have no time for anything else!


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, Sir
I'm really confused about using: It/that will be nice and It/ that would be nice
like in these examples:
We're going to Cornwall for the weekend. that will be nice
How about going to Cornwall next weekend? That would be nice
could you please tell me the difference because both examples taking about the future
so why in the first (will be) and the second (would be)
and when I use will be+adjective and would be+adjective
Thank you, Sir.

Hello sunrisereham,

'Be going to' is used for describing plans and 'how about going?' is used to make a suggestion. Since the plan refers to the future, 'will' is appropriate and 'would' is not. The suggestion, on the other hand, refers to a hypothetical or unreal time, and so 'would' is more appropriate.

I hope that helps.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you, Sir
that means If I say that will be nice as a reply with 'how about going?' it is not correct
and If I want say 'yes that is a good idea shall we go' as a reply it is not correct too
Thank you, Sir