will or would

 

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

Comments

Dear the LearnEnglish Team members,

1) Would you please tell me if the following sentences have the same meaning and are grammatically correct?

a) Nancy would rather her mother cooked dinner today.
b) Nancy would rather cook dinner by her mother today.

2) Please kindly let me know if I can put “than + a bare infinitive” at the end of a sentence (as below) to make a comparison.

“Nancy would rather her mother cooked dinner tonight than eat out.”

3) Can “would rather” be used to talk about preferences in the past?

Thank you in advance.

Rgds,
bnpl

Hello Swapnilutkarsha,

'wouldn't' doesn't really make sense here, though it's not possible to say for sure without knowing the context, i.e. what ideas come before and after this sentence.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, educator
what will i do to remember these structures for talking or using them on real speaking with people?
would you mind to suggest usage effectively.
thanks and sincerely
paeng

Hi paeng,

There is no magic potion for this! The way to remember and learn to use structures and phrases is to use them. Practice and more practice is key: this is the way you will create a deployable set of structures. You can find some concrete tips and suggestions on different aspects of English on our Help page.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,

I am sorry, if i have posted this question in wrong section;I couldn't find out the right section and i hope this will be appropriate section

I want to know the usage of "would you mind"

Is this sentence correct?
Would you mind if i said i would chat later? I am very keen to know how will native speakers say this sentence

Hi bharathkumarreddy,

It depends on what you want to say. For example:

Would you mind doing it later? [you are asking the other person to not do it now]

Would you mind if I do/did it later? [you are asking if it is OK for you to delay it - 'did' is a little more polite]

With 'chat' you have different options as both you and the listener are participants in the activity. If you are asking if a delay is OK then I would suggest the following:

Would you mind if we chatted later (rather than now)?

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hi dear admin! i just wanted to thank you for these useful information you have provided ! the only reason i'm posting this comment is to know the meaning of the following sentences ! i'm not basic english learner ... i read many newspapers and stuff .. i wanna now the real meaning of would .. i know this can be used as habitual action and polite request and past form of will and indirect speech ! i know all of'em ! but there are some kind of sentences that reall drving me crazy when i wanna translate them and get to the bottom of the message ! look at these example below :

1) " he invented a new way that would increase income .... "
does this sentence say , his was was increasing income for long time in the past and his way was being used for a long time ? am i right ?

2 ) " i would tell you i love you ! " i know will here can be used as well but why people use "would" ?

thank you in advance ! :)

Hi unknwon,

'Would' can be used in many ways, as you say. It's often used in hypothetical sentences (conditionals) and sometimes when we create such sentences we omit the condition because it is obvious, leaving only the result clause. Although it is difficult to be certain without knowing the full context, I would suggest (if you were to press me) that this is the case with your examples:

...he invented a new way that would increase income (if it were implemented)...

I would tell you I love you (if you asked/if you weren't already married)

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
1.can we use could for present.
for example: i could do that tomorrow.

2.And with negative for present.
for example : i couldn't do that tomorrow.

Thanks and regards,
Nandish BC.

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