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

There is going to be a match between ind vs aus.both sides are equally good.i cant say like india will win the game as both sides are equally good .what should I say?if india win the game I will give u 100 ruppees or if india won the game iwould give u 100 rp.i think first one should be the answer right as india winning the game is not an unlikely event as india also stands an equal chance of winning this game in speakers perspective.and al

I think I understand now.i have taken a lottery and is waiting for the results.my friend asked me what u will do if u win the lottery.now consider another example .I havent taken any lottery. So my friend asked if u won the lottery what would u do.
The difference bet the first and second sentence is that speaker thinks that it is a real possibility .he has taken a lottery so he might win the lottery.but in second sent ita just a hypo. Sent just like my father asking me If u become a prime minister what would u do .my father never expects me to be pm and all but just asking me what u would do in such imaginary situations.whereas in first sentence speaker thinks that although I have very less chance of winning the lootery I might w8n the lottery. But in 2nd sent he does not expect me to win any lottery cause I havent taken any lottery but is just asking for fun what u would do if u won the lottery.am i right?

Hello jino,

Yes, that's the idea – it sounds as if you understand it now. I just wanted to point out that you could still use the second conditional even when talking with someone who has a lottery ticket. Since, as Peter reminds us below, the odds of winning the lottery are very low (millions to one), one can certainly see winning as an unlikely event and use the second conditional to express that.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

U didnt get my point. Thats not what I meant to say.my qn is that if the speaker thinks whatever he says is going to happen like he is 100 percent sure that it will happen then we will use first condirional. But if the speaker is not so sure like 50 50 chance then what we will use 1st conditional or 2nd one?

Hello jino,

I'm afraid you are confusing how the speaker sees an event with the real probability. Conditionals are about the speaker's perception, not the objective likelihood of something happening. Thus, I can say either of the following:

If I win the lottery, I'll buy a new house.

If I won the lottery, I'd buy a new house.

The only difference is my (the speaker's) perception of whether or not winning the lottery is plausible. In the first sentence I'm suggesting this is a real possibility in my life; in the second I'm suggesting that I know this is just a fantasy. But the objective probability has not changed (several million to one!).

Conditional forms require different possibilities, even if those possibilities are entirely fantastical. If a person is 100% sure that something will happen (i.e. is allowing for no other possibility) then they use a regular verb form without 'if', or use 'when' in place of 'if'.

Trying to base conditionals on real-world probability will not help you. Conditionals are about perception, not reality.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

That is not what I meant to say.first conditionals is used for sure thingswhich will happen anyway.if it snows ,I wont go out. Snowing is a sure thing and it will happen right.but on ur conditional page it says that snowing might happen as an explanation.so first conditional can be used for things which is not 100 percent sure as well as for sure things.2 cond is used only for impossible things.so u should have given like snowing will happen as an explanation.why u given snowing might happen.or first conditionals can be used both for sure as well as for little sure like 50 percent ?this is what confussing me.u

Hello jino,

Using first versus second conditional has nothing to do with certainty or uncertainty – it has to do with possibility or likelihood, and always from the perspective of the speaker. One person might choose the second conditional whereas another might choose the first conditional – it depends on how they see the situation.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

On ur conditional page in the example shown if it snows iwont go out.below that page it says that it might snow.will is used only for sure things right. But here it says it might.might means unsurality

Hello jino,

That's correct – 'might' can be used for possibilities, whereas 'will' can be used to express certainty.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

We use would for impossible things or possible things?

Pages