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

in use of will you said we use will to tell about what people want to do. In your explanation of 'phrases with would' you explained "I would like..." is used to express what we want to do.

My question is, what is actual difference between
1. I will like to go home.
2. I would like to go home.

Hello eArsalan,

'will' is used to express what we want in mostly interpersonal ways, e.g. when we are asking someone to do something or making a promise. For example, if I say 'Will you please call me tomorrow?', I'm asking you to do this thing I want; or, 'I'll call you tomorrow' is a promise that expresses my desire to call you. But 'will' is not used in sentences like your sentence 1, which is a simple declaration. Instead, you should use 'want' or 'would like' if you want to be polite.

'would like' is used as a polite version of 'want' when we ask for something. For example, in a restaurant I can say 'I'd like an order of samosas and palak paneer' - this is a polite way of saying 'I want an order of...', but essentially means the same thing. Or, as in your second sentence, it can be used to express a wish: 'I would like to go home'.

Learning how these forms are used takes some time and practice, so please keep studying and notice how they are used when you see them. It will slowly make more and more sense.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Team,

Would you please tell me what's the difference between these two sentences If one wants to tell their willingness. Which one is more appropriate and sounds good?

1. We’ll see you tomorrow.

2. We would like to see you tomorrow.

Thanks in advance,
Eng.Learner

Hello Eng.Learner,

The two sentences have different meanings. In the first sentence the speaker is describing a certain fact in the future - there is no doubt that they will meet tomorrow. In the second the speaker is expressing a wish or hope which may or may not come to pass.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I'd like to ask you about the structure "I would say... ". Should we use past or present tenses here? For example, is this sentence correct: I would say, I spoke English well now? Thanks.

Hi Uliana,

'I would say' means simply 'my opinion/view/judgement is' and tells the listener that the speaker is not completely sure that they are right - in other words, that they are making a judgement as best as they can. It can be followed by any tense:

I would say, I spoke English well.

This sentence is about the past - at that time (in the past) I judge that I spoke English well.

I would say, I speak English well.

This sentence is about the present - I judge that I speak English well now.

In your sentence you have the word 'now', so you are clearly trying to make a judgement about the present; therefore the correct verb form is 'speak'.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

will you come today?
this sentence is in a question form which refer to things in future

is this explanation correct?

Hello quicklytextme,

It could be, but it could also be a question about a decision in the present. It really depends on the context. I'd suggest you also take a look at part 2 of our Talking about the future page.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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